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Can a Cigar “Over-Age”?

cigars in humidor box

There’s something about the word “aged” that is typically equated with “better.”  Aged wine is a luxurious commodity, along with aged whiskeys, cheeses and even steaks.  And, yet another good that seems to increase in value when aged is cigars.

Aging cigars is a process that is typically reserved for serious cigar connoisseurs.  But, what are the rules of aging a cigar?  Is it possible for a cigar to age too much, and end up losing its value?

Ten Years is Probably the Max

First, let’s answer the key question of this article.  Cigars can over-age, and many experts will tell you that a cigar is only good for up to ten years after purchase.  After those ten years, the compounds will degrade in an unfavorable way, making your smoke far less enjoyable than its ultimate potential.  The flavor will become weak and disappointing, and in many cases, “off.”  Also, the consistency of the tobacco itself will likely have changed so much that it doesn’t burn in a way that’s satisfying.

Two to Three Months is Sufficient

Most cigars age sufficiently within two to three months.  In other words, after this time period, they’ll be as good as they’re ever going to be.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but this is a good rule to base your aging endeavor off of if you’re new to the game.

Full-Bodied Cigars Age Better than Mild Cigars

Another rule of thumb is that full-bodied cigars are far more likely to benefit from aging than mild cigars.  This is because the flavor compounds in full-bodied cigars are more robust, and will become smoother and more layered as time goes on.  Mild cigars, being milder in flavor, can become weaker in taste the longer they go unsmoked, which could make them “over-aged.”  Therefore, it may not be worth trying to age mild cigars at all.

The Conditions Matter Tremendously

Of course, proper aging depends on the conditions at which your cigars are exposed.  There is a big difference between leaving a cigar in your desk drawer by mistake, and intentionally aging it in a humidor that is set to the right humidity level to enhance the compounds in the tobacco.  A cigar that’s not left in a humidor will be “over-aged” in that its flavor and draw will probably be a disappointment.

Each Cigar Ages Differently

Bear in mind that there is no “one size fits all” rule when it comes to aging cigars.  Each cigar has a different chemical composition that is affected by the aging process.  So, some cigars may age beautifully, while others begin to lose their appeal after just a month of aging.  This is a risk that a lot of serious cigar collectors are willing to take, knowing fully well that they may end up essentially losing a cigar due to over-aging.

Some Cigars Will Never Improve

Finally, don’t both trying to age a low-quality cigar that doesn’t appeal to you at the time of purchase.  Cheap, poor-tasting cigars will not improve while they are aging.  This doesn’t exactly relate to “over-aging,” but it’s worth pointing out regardless.  A bad cigar will always be a bad cigar, no matter what aging techniques you try to apply to it.

Aging a Cigar is a Choice: But Not Always the Right One

While aging a cigar under the proper conditions can give you a more satisfying smoke, it is possible for a cigar to over-age, and lead to disappoint, as well as a waste of money.  If you’re going to age a cigar, it’s a good idea to do some research on the proper process and know whether or not the particular cigar you have is worth the effort to begin with. 

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