Cigars bitter at first, then round out

Q. I’ve noticed that no matter what cigar I take out of the humidor, it tastes bitter when I light it up, and then becomes flavorful after it burns for a while. It happened yesterday on two totally different, very high-qualitycigars. Any thoughts on what’s going on?
– Jerry in Reston, VA

A.  I’ve noticed this myself over the years, but only on occasion, not as frequently as you seem to have experienced. I also remember asking about this phemomenon to a very highly-respected master blender a few years ago.

What happens is, sometimes a little ammoniac works its way into the end of the foot during the aging process, which is where the bitterness comes from. Once it burns-off, the cigar rounds out.

The only thing I can think of that would cause every cigar you reach for to taste bitter would be that you have a lot of cigars that were not fermented properly. (See also: “Funny odor in humidor.”)

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