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Aging: is there such thing as too long?

EmergenCigar

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
20
While still new to the site and search function, I’m pretty certain this subject has not been wholly tackled. I’ve also turned to google and have not satisfied my query.
“By aging most cigars in a properly maintained humidor, the general rule is that the flavor of the cigars will continue to improve for up to ten years. After that amount of time, cigars will no longer show any significant amount of improvement, although they still require proper storage in a humidor to preserve their integrity.”
(noted cigar expert and author, Dr. David Diaz, PhD)

My question is this: Has anyone noticed a decline in taste or experience at any point in time? Does a bell curve exist to indicate a point at which the aging process yields a smoke that has lost its complexity / taste / integrity / depth of character?
*proper storage assumed
 

BlindedByScience

Proud Father of a brave U.S. Marine
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
9,289
Depends completely on the cigar. Some well known brands are made with well aged tobacco and are best smoked sooner than later. I've also got a cherished few Cubans that are 40+ years old and smoke like heaven. So...."it depends" is the only right answer.
 

Thoughts

Forehead wrinkle king
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
1,880
I have very limited data compared to these other guys. My very limited experience has show that CC (Cuba) have shown their colors better with age. Some requiring more than others, and very few requiring a third of the time to start showing awesome flavor. While NC (not Cubs brethren) typically require 1-4 years depending on how well developed the cigar itself is (10$ cigar vs a cheapo).

some things I have found is if you have ANY cigar That is mild to lower moderate in strength, aging is going to develop those flavors so you can access them better, but over 10 years, the mild family becomes milder. This may result in cigars that are lackluster.

again, newbie answering this, stick with the professionals, but this is just from my reading and research here.
 

thinde

Lobstah; the other white meat!
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
3,385
I have very limited data compared to these other guys. My very limited experience has show that CC (Cuba) have shown their colors better with age. Some requiring more than others, and very few requiring a third of the time to start showing awesome flavor. While NC (not Cubs brethren) typically require 1-4 years depending on how well developed the cigar itself is (10$ cigar vs a cheapo).

some things I have found is if you have ANY cigar That is mild to lower moderate in strength, aging is going to develop those flavors so you can access them better, but over 10 years, the mild family becomes milder. This may result in cigars that are lackluster.

again, newbie answering this, stick with the professionals, but this is just from my reading and research here.
Good answer.
 

BlindedByScience

Proud Father of a brave U.S. Marine
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
9,289
I've had cigars like I mentioned, made from very well aged tobacco. After a few years they get surprisingly thin.....almost like smoking air. One recommendation I've heard is to buy a box, then smoke one every three months or so. You'll get to experience the change and can determine your 'sweet spot' for those particular sticks.

Edited to add these were NOT CC's. Bill's post on the issue is spot on.
 
Last edited:

EmergenCigar

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
20
Thanks so all! I had wondered if it could be narrowed down to a particular country of origin, wrapper, filler, or other, but it seems to be on a individual Cigar basis. Great stuff!!
 

CigSid

Love this place...
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
4,585
I have very limited data compared to these other guys. My very limited experience has show that CC (Cuba) have shown their colors better with age. Some requiring more than others, and very few requiring a third of the time to start showing awesome flavor. While NC (not Cubs brethren) typically require 1-4 years depending on how well developed the cigar itself is (10$ cigar vs a cheapo).

some things I have found is if you have ANY cigar That is mild to lower moderate in strength, aging is going to develop those flavors so you can access them better, but over 10 years, the mild family becomes milder. This may result in cigars that are lackluster.

again, newbie answering this, stick with the professionals, but this is just from my reading and research here.
Agree with this, and I will add that for Cuban cigars, in my experience, here is what I’ve come up with:

First of all they “must” be high quality to start out with... Poor quality cigars will not get better with aging. Also, and very important, single cigars will not get better with age, smoke them now. Varnished boxes age the best, followed by cabs (50 count the best, followed by 25 count, then 10 count) followed by dress boxes, followed by cardboard packs. Cigars should be kept in their original boxes, unopened, so they do not have to endure too many micro-fermentations. Like in wine, oxygen deteriorates some of the delicate flavors of cigars. Cigars (ideally) should be kept around 65 degrees and between 65 to 68 percent humidity during the aging process.

1 to 3 years - green:

The “sick period” is typically included in this stage and it is one that needs a lot of attention because in my opinion cigars should not be smoked during this time. Immediately after rolling a cigar undergoes a sick period, during which the ammonia smell is still detectable in a newly manufactured cigar. This is due to the fact that tobacco leaves are moistened before rolling and this accelerates a further fermentation producing a lot of ammonia. How long it takes to get rid of the ammonia scent depends on the fermentation rate, the chemical constituents, the cigar size, the packaging and how we store cigars. For the majority of cigars handled in the usual way, the ammonia smell will be over 90% gone in a few months, 95% to 99% gone by the end of the first year, and practically all gone by the end of the second year. Milder cigars…take even less time.

3 to 5 years - aged:

When cigars continue to produce incrementally pleasant flavors as a consequence of continuous fermentation. The slower the fermentation, the more time the chemical constituents have to mingle with each other, the more complex the flavors that are generated. As fermentation slows down, less pleasant flavors are lost through evaporation, chemical reactions, self-degradation, etc.

6 to 15 years - mature:

When tannic acids further decompose and this interacts with the improved flavors originating from continous fermentation. This maturation corresponds to the peak for pleasant flavors and might take more than 15 years, depending on the level of tannins and woodiness. This period also depends on the brand of cigars and the size.

20 years and beyond - vintage:

Finesse, similar to that of greatly aged Bordeaux or Burgundy wine, is what begins to appear after 20 years. The chemical reactions behind this kind of aging might be similar to the mysterious ‘wine in a bottle’ maturing process.” The aromas are extremely complicated, the flavors have “married” with the surounding cigars, and in my opinion can be the best tasting cigars on the planet.
 

Cparker

My dogs don't smoke
Joined
Sep 7, 2004
Messages
564
I enjoy aging cigars. Its has a characteristic of computer programming: garbage in, garbage out. There have been times I bought cigars on hype, was disappointed and tried to age out the disappointment. It never works.
 

CgarDan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2006
Messages
2,149
Agree with this, and I will add that for Cuban cigars, in my experience, here is what I’ve come up with:

First of all they “must” be high quality to start out with... Poor quality cigars will not get better with aging. Also, and very important, single cigars will not get better with age, smoke them now. Varnished boxes age the best, followed by cabs (50 count the best, followed by 25 count, then 10 count) followed by dress boxes, followed by cardboard packs. Cigars should be kept in their original boxes, unopened, so they do not have to endure too many micro-fermentations. Like in wine, oxygen deteriorates some of the delicate flavors of cigars. Cigars (ideally) should be kept around 65 degrees and between 65 to 68 percent humidity during the aging process.

1 to 3 years - green:

The “sick period” is typically included in this stage and it is one that needs a lot of attention because in my opinion cigars should not be smoked during this time. Immediately after rolling a cigar undergoes a sick period, during which the ammonia smell is still detectable in a newly manufactured cigar. This is due to the fact that tobacco leaves are moistened before rolling and this accelerates a further fermentation producing a lot of ammonia. How long it takes to get rid of the ammonia scent depends on the fermentation rate, the chemical constituents, the cigar size, the packaging and how we store cigars. For the majority of cigars handled in the usual way, the ammonia smell will be over 90% gone in a few months, 95% to 99% gone by the end of the first year, and practically all gone by the end of the second year. Milder cigars…take even less time.

3 to 5 years - aged:

When cigars continue to produce incrementally pleasant flavors as a consequence of continuous fermentation. The slower the fermentation, the more time the chemical constituents have to mingle with each other, the more complex the flavors that are generated. As fermentation slows down, less pleasant flavors are lost through evaporation, chemical reactions, self-degradation, etc.

6 to 15 years - mature:

When tannic acids further decompose and this interacts with the improved flavors originating from continous fermentation. This maturation corresponds to the peak for pleasant flavors and might take more than 15 years, depending on the level of tannins and woodiness. This period also depends on the brand of cigars and the size.

20 years and beyond - vintage:

Finesse, similar to that of greatly aged Bordeaux or Burgundy wine, is what begins to appear after 20 years. The chemical reactions behind this kind of aging might be similar to the mysterious ‘wine in a bottle’ maturing process.” The aromas are extremely complicated, the flavors have “married” with the surounding cigars, and in my opinion can be the best tasting cigars on the planet.

great explanation as always 👍

I do have some follow up questions:

1) when you say unopened are you referring to the original cellophane ? Does it not make sense to inspect the box for mold and quality of cigars?

2) i totally understand a wooden cab performing better than cardboard when aging but why does the varnished box take it to the next level?

3) is your timeline consistent across brands as long as it’s quality cigars or will some brands benefit from longer aging periods while others will see quality actually start to decline after 10+ years

4) also just wanted to mention your thread on Box codes If I understand correctly most cigars from 2019 and 2020 will age well while most from 2015-2018 might not be worth the effort?

For those who are really interested in learning more about Cubans I would highly recommend the book by Min Ron Nee. Although not cheap it’s still a great reference and learning guide Perhaps Bill can also recommend some more recent books as that one I believe has not been updated for a while
 

CigSid

Love this place...
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
4,585
great explanation as always 👍

I do have some follow up questions:

1) when you say unopened are you referring to the original cellophane ? Does it not make sense to inspect the box for mold and quality of cigars?

2) i totally understand a wooden cab performing better than cardboard when aging but why does the varnished box take it to the next level?

3) is your timeline consistent across brands as long as it’s quality cigars or will some brands benefit from longer aging periods while others will see quality actually start to decline after 10+ years

4) also just wanted to mention your thread on Box codes If I understand correctly most cigars from 2019 and 2020 will age well while most from 2015-2018 might not be worth the effort?

For those who are really interested in learning more about Cubans I would highly recommend the book by Min Ron Nee. Although not cheap it’s still a great reference and learning guide Perhaps Bill can also recommend some more recent books as that one I believe has not been updated for a while
1. Sealed would be best, but almost impossible to get nowadays. Once you check them and they become part of your collection, try to forget about them for a few years.
2. Varnished boxes are designed to seal better than SLB and other boxes.
3. Good question, some brands such as Partagas, Bolivar, Cuaba, San Cristobal, Juan Lopez, Vegas Robaina and La Escepcion will continue to age beautifully long past 15 to 20 years, whereas milder cigars such as Fonseca, H Upmann, Por Larranaga and others may become flat and tasteless after the same amount of time. Size and wrapper thickness can also play a part.
4. Another good question... the bold box codes are generally higher quality box codes, with a greater chance of aging better. Late 2019, and 2020 have an even better chance because of the old school fermentation process, imo...

As far as reference material, MRN’s book is still one of the best, although outdated. There is nothing else even close.
 

CigarStone

For once, knowledge is making me poor!
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
3,960
1. Sealed would be best, but almost impossible to get nowadays. Once you check them and they become part of your collection, try to forget about them for a few years.
2. Varnished boxes are designed to seal better than SLB and other boxes.
3. Good question, some brands such as Partagas, Bolivar, Cuaba, San Cristobal, Juan Lopez, Vegas Robaina and La Escepcion will continue to age beautifully long past 15 to 20 years, whereas milder cigars such as Fonseca, H Upmann, Por Larranaga and others may become flat and tasteless after the same amount of time. Size and wrapper thickness can also play a part.
4. Another good question... the bold box codes are generally higher quality box codes, with a greater chance of aging better. Late 2019, and 2020 have an even better chance because of the old school fermentation process, imo...

As far as reference material, MRN’s book is still one of the best, although outdated. There is nothing else even close.
Thanks Bill, I would not have guessed that varnished was the best starting point. I would have thought the varnish could be detected. I love the fact that I can still learn despite being old....remembering it is another thing all together!

I remember a couple trades with Lucasbuck from many years ago, I learned a lot then too!
 

CigarStone

For once, knowledge is making me poor!
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
3,960
Thanks so all! I had wondered if it could be narrowed down to a particular country of origin, wrapper, filler, or other, but it seems to be on a individual Cigar basis. Great stuff!!
Brett, maybe I can put this into another perspective which might help. Think about the Browns, if you had a box of cigars which was properly kept long enough to go back to the days when the Browns were great, it would be really special because they didn’t even know what humidity was back then. And every once in a while, in the midst of the Browns half-decade of occupying the basement of the outhouse, they stuck their head above the seat, saw what good football was, and then went right back to the basement. Now, it looks like they have finally found a compass but gambling on them to properly read it would be like stocking up on grape flavored White Owls in the hope that they would be something special in 20 years.



I hope that helps!:cool:
 

EmergenCigar

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
20
Brett, maybe I can put this into another perspective which might help. Think about the Browns, if you had a box of cigars which was properly kept long enough to go back to the days when the Browns were great, it would be really special because they didn’t even know what humidity was back then. And every once in a while, in the midst of the Browns half-decade of occupying the basement of the outhouse, they stuck their head above the seat, saw what good football was, and then went right back to the basement. Now, it looks like they have finally found a compass but gambling on them to properly read it would be like stocking up on grape flavored White Owls in the hope that they would be something special in 20 years.



I hope that helps!:cool:
I do have a few questions regarding the above but can ask them in person when I next visit you in the old folks home for dinner at 430p. Ha!

In the meantime, does anyone have any recommendations for “cigars that smoke well in the “green” stage while doing the right thing in letting my recent purchases age/mature? I’ve gotta smoke something in the interim, right?

As always, thanks so very much!
 

kann

One Leg Of Fury.
Joined
Apr 29, 2011
Messages
4,748
Almost any NC is ready to smoke now. As for recent CCs, H. Upmann Mag 54 has been phenomenal.
 

mjolnir01

El Cañón de Latón
Joined
Jun 1, 2008
Messages
2,423
While I'm chucking up YooToob links this morning, this one is very much worth checking out: Dr. Joe Show series on Aging (linky). His source for the video is also Min Ron Nee's classic book, so again this is aimed more at Habanos. Bill's synopsis above is superb, almost as if he's done this before... 😆 😆 😆
 

ChiTown_Huck

Active Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2007
Messages
916
I had a 15+ year old LFD Double Ligero Churchill Especiale that still had plenty of flavor and kick.
 
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