You see the word “vintage” in a cigar’s name – but what does that actually mean? Go beyond the marketing-speak and get our close-up look at the tobaccos used for premium cigars, what constitutes a true “vintage cigar” and our 10 top “vintage” picks.
Cigar Storage – Dry Boxing, Resting, and Aging
Much to the chagrin of cigar newbies everywhere, even experienced cigar smokers can be imprecise with cigar terms. With that said, I’m going to define and expound upon three common cigar storage modalities: dry boxing, resting, and aging.
By now you may be familiar with the old “70/70 rule,” which some people even quote as “72/72.” It is supposed to represent the optimum environment for cigars in degrees Fahrenheit and ambient Rh (relative humidity) expressed as a percentage. This rule figures heavily into cigar storage, whether short- or long-term, as well as making cigar purchases.
Let’s start with the most common of the three practices, “resting.” This is essentially the practice of not smoking a cigar ROTT, i.e. right-off-the-truck, opting instead to let the cigars “rest” in your humidor for a week or more.
Resting is a good idea when smoking cigars that have been recently delivered from an online cigar retailer. Many such retailers will store their cigars at the highest acceptable humidity, so as to maintain the cigars’ freshness during transit. Some brick-and-mortar retail tobacconists may also store their cigars at a similarly high humidity, because it is much easier to let a cigar “dry out,” so to speak, than to “re-humidify” it.
By allowing a cigar’s moisture content to even out, you are preventing the burn issues associated with over- or uneven-humidification.
Dry Boxing, on the other hand, is the practice of shifting one or more cigars from regular storage to drier storage, usually an empty cigar box that’s outside of the humidor. This practice is particularly useful if you store all your cigars at high humidity. It also comes in handy if you’re planning on smoking a full-bodied stink bomb, which tends to have a large amount of oil in the leaves, and therefore performs better with lower moisture content.
The last of these, aging, is also the least common. Aging is the practice of allowing your cigars to slumber for a year or more, typically in a lower-temperature, lower-humidity environment. The plain fact is that most cigars won’t actually benefit from aging: it won’t turn a cheap drugstore cigar into a $10 smoke, nor will it improve the flavor of a mild cigar. Instead, like wine, it takes a high-quality, fuller-bodied cigar to really see any benefit from long-term aging. Even then, you must ask the question: are you willing to sacrifice strength for nuance? Because that’s the best-case scenario.