Cigars 101

The Basics: How Long to Age Cigars

The Cut-off Point: How Long Should I Age Cigars?

By Gary Korb

how to age cigars
“The benefits of aging cigars will vary from cigar to cigar and may range from considerable to negligible.” – David “Doc” Diaz

With that quote from noted cigar expert and author, Dr. David Diaz, PhD, in mind, we can begin to consider whether or not our prized premium cigars are worth additional aging at home. Other cigar experts, including most of the cigar smokers I’ve met over the years, agree that as little as one month will improve a cigar’s flavor. The question is: How long should you age your cigars? Or, maybe a better question is: How do you know when your cigars have aged long enough? According to an article on aging cigars in a humidor by Gary Manelski, “…the general rule is that the flavor of the cigars will continue to improve for up to 10 years. After that amount of time, cigars will no longer show any significant amount of improvement.”

That said, most smokers don’t have the patience to age cigars for a full 10 years. Moreover, some of them may not even be around to enjoy their cigars 10 years later; and as for those who will be around, will they remember what a particular cigar tasted like a decade ago? Actually, there is a way to remember that I’ll describe later.

In his article, “Long-term Aging of Cigars,” Dr. Diaz points out that it’s hard to predict how a cigar will age, and depending on how long you plan to age it, you may not be sure you’re even going to like it at that point. “The cigar may indeed be smoother and more complex, but there is no guarantee that you will enjoy that flavor profile,” writes Diaz. That’s because there is no established length of time that ensures your cigars will taste better. Only you, the smoker, can really know how much additional aging your cigars require, and that can only be achieved by certain means; that is, by smoking the cigars at various intervals as they age. Before I describe how to go about it, let’s look at some useful info that applies to aging cigars in a humidor:

infused age cigars
Flavored cigars, or infused premiums like ACID cigars do not require any additional aging – only proper humidity levels.

I’ve received a lot of emails over the years from cigar smokers asking if they should age cigars they own, and if so, for how long. The only way to know if a particular cigar is aging well over a given length of time is to smoke the cigars periodically as they age. Using the following guidelines, you should get good results. (I’ve also used this method to address the question of whether you should keep cigars in a humidor with or without the cello wrappers.)

how to age cigars one out of the box
Smoke one cigar from a new box or bundle within 24 hours, and note the cigar’s flavor. Then do it again. Try a third after waiting 6 weeks, and compare it to the qualities of the first two – is this third cigar mellower, smoother, or tastier?

First, buy a box (or bundle) of 20 or 25 premium cigars. Next, smoke one out of the box within 24 hours and make notes on the cigar’s flavor. To be sure, smoke another and compare notes. These are your “control” cigars. Place the remaining cigars in a section of your humidor. If you have a cabinet humidor, put the factory box in there. Don’t smoke another from that box for at least 6 weeks. Now compare it to the first two cigars you smoked. You should taste some degree of improvement. Is it mellower, smoother, or tastier? This first time period may not have been enough to move the needle all that much. Continue this smoking one every 6 weeks and taking notes process until you’ve run the box. With 20 cigars, (actually 18), they will have aged over a two year period. That should give you ample time to see if there’s a significant improvement in the cigars’ flavor profile.

You can also mix it up by using longer or shorter periods between smoking cigars. It all depends on how long you want the experiment to run. Here are a few parting shots to keep in mind:

Finally, remember to be patient when you age cigars. If you have the means, double your box order so you can smoke one to your heart’s delight while the other box ages slowly. That’s the thing about premium cigars; everything, from toasting and lighting your cigar, to the time you take to smoke a cigar, to aging them, must be done in a leisurely manner.