246 - October 21, 2010
I received a question from DB across the “email counter” a few weeks back:
“should I be smoking my cigars within, say, a month from buying them, or if kept in a humidor etc they will last indefinitely?
Valid questions – and the answer is a guarded “yes / but”
“Yes”, because the premium cigars we receive have all been through the basic ageing felt necessary by the skilled people who have made them.
“But” that doesn’t mean that some cigars won’t improve with extra ageing.
The cedar boxes from Rafael Gonzales, for example, have the message: “IN ORDER THAT THE CONNOISSEUR MAY FULLY APPRECIATE THE PERFECT FRAGRANCE THEY SHOULD BE SMOKED EITHER WITHIN ONE MONTH OF THE DATE OF SHIPMENT FROM HAVANA OR SHOULD BE CAREFULLY MATURED FOR ABOUT ONE YEAR.”
You can make this scientific, as suggested by cigar guru Rick Hacker :
He suggests you smoke one from the box, note on paper your comments on feel, aroma and taste, and the conditions under which you smoked it. Then seal the box and put it away in a humidified place for 6 months. Then try another one.
Compare notes, and if you don’t notice a significant improvement, abort the exercise and put the cigars into your “smoke now” humidor.
Some cigars are offered at their prime and may even start to go downhill. “Edicion Limitada” cigars may be an example of this.
Or you can be lucky, as Neil was when he celebrated attaining his Degree by smoking a 40 year old cigar from a box of Ritmeester given to his grandfather by his father: “The cigars were not dried out at all. They were springy to the touch, the band was not sliding off and they did not smoke harsh at all.”
It seems that these cigars had aged really gracefully.
I was fortunate enough to have been given a few “pre-Castro” Davidoff cigars some years ago. They’ve been sitting quietly in their box in my humidor. I have smoked a few and they are quite stunning.
Very young cigars may be harsh / bitter. If you recognise this, then definitely put the box away – possibly the manufacturer has cut corners and the cigars were not left long enough for the flavours to marry and mature. (Or maybe the cigars were just contrary – it happens.)
The premium brands we sell, matured for 2 to 3 years, are unlikely to have this problem.
Most important for ageing:
During any ageing period, a few months or a few years, keep the humidity and temperature consistent – cigars don’t like drastic changes.
This may be difficult to control if you have only the one humidor, which is in constant use.
Possibly if you’re serious about ageing, you could keep those cigars separately in an airtight, humidity controlled container**, in a relatively cool place – and have your “ready to smoke” or “smoke now” cigars in a humidor close at hand.
** If you don’t use a cedar-lined humidor, keep the cigars in their original boxes (lid off??) or put some cedar sheets in with them. Cedar helps the “Marrying” process.
Read about “keeping cigars in good condition”. Find out about the new technology for maintaining humidity which means that you no longer have to rely on simple Hygrostats (analogue or digital). You can instead, once the humidor is prepared, rely on a Humidifying System from Paradigm, Dunhill, Savinelli or Passatore. These systems automatically release moisture when the ambient relative humidity is below 70% and stop releasing when 70% is reached.
WK from a Cape Wine Estate tells me that he has no time to look at his cigars during the busy January-March seasons. He has found that he can trust the Paradigm System: when, after the harvest, he finally has time to check the stock in his Ageing Humidors (in cool wine cellars) the Relative Humidity is unchanged at 70%. “Ageing?” He is quite convinced that the cigars improve if they are given time to rest after buying. He says that the flavour develops, and the cigars offer a much smoother smoke.
He prepares his Humidors with simple “oasis” humidifiers; checks that they are at 70% with a digital hygrometer; and then maintains the humidity with the Paradigm which he finds needs refilling with distilled water only every 2 – 3 months.
The same should apply to the other Humidifying systems – maybe with slightly different refilling times.
Remember too – don’t mix cigars from different countries in your maturing humidor – the natural flavours should be kept separate.
Because I guess that now is the appropriate time to encourage you to take control of the conditions in which you keep your cigars – here is a special offer on the Humidifying systems.
And just in case you want to keep a close eye on whether they are really doing their job – we’ll include the Digital Hygrostats in the offer. I’ve done such checking and I’m very impressed.
From 28 October – 10 November, 2010
25% off most Hygrostats and Humidifiers
15% off Dunhill Humidifying System or Savinelli Surface Active Liquid
We’ll include the Mini Brick, the Clay/Aluminium Freshener and the Dunhill Travel Humidifiers – designed to maintain the condition of previously humidified cigars.
And while you’re building your “cigar cellar” remember our Selections and Handy Packs
Excellent to experience the differences in size, strength and flavour.
Three new selections available now.
No.246 October 21 – November 3, 2010
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