A few words about aged cigars, also known as vintage cigars. The dominant opinion in cigar circles is that cigars, like fine wines, rugs and women (!) age better with time. This ageing is obviously dependent on the storage environment being sound, i.e. the correct temperature and more importantly the humidity, as well as the type and size of the cigar.
Cigars are made of plant matter and all plant matter changes with time, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The amoung of impact that ageing has on the cigar depends mostly on the cigar itself, some cigars age better than others. One of the more important factors in the capacity of the cigar to age well is the strength of its tobacco and the total quantity of strong tobacco used in the cigar blend. Cigars that are made with a lot of ligero (tobacco from the higher part of the plant with darker and thicker leaves) will have the greatest capacity to improve with time. If kept in the right conditions these cigars will develop complexity and balance.
The thicker the cigar, the greater the variety of tobacco leaves and therefore the more complex the final flavour of the cigar will be. Also, as the inside of larger cigars tend to be somewhat shielded from the outside environment, less apt to be affected by fluctuations in humidity and temperature.
Generally it is agreed that Cuban cigars age far better than non-cubans. Many cigars, especially ones from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, have been aged already and are ready to be smoked immediately. The tobacco has been fully cured and completely fermented. It has likely been baled and aged for 2-3 years and after rolling they typically receive another 3 months or longer resting in aging rooms before they're shipped out.
The longer cigars have been aged, the more mellow they become due to the reduction of ammonia and other compounds. Various other compounds within the tobacco will also change over time which leads to a more even burn and will result in subtle changes in the flavour, a process called “marrying”.
With age the flavours become less distinct, more mellowed and blended. This is a good thing for the cigar will be much smoother and will display less bite and inconsistancies. The cigar becomes more complex with the emergence of layers and multiple combinations of flavours.
Here at Cigar Malaysia, we're pleased to announce the launching of our Vintage Aged section on the site. This section is for cigars with a box year of at least five years previous. There is no consensus on what constitutes an “aged” cigar, so we're setting the benchmark at five years. Take a look, give them a try and show off to your friends that you have aged cigars!