Aging cigars is a long, slow and complex process that only seems to end when you smoke it.
It begins when the torcedor (artisan who makes the cigars) moistens the filler, wrapper and binder leaves to make them more manageable and make the binding, the name given to the process of joining them to make the cigar. After binding, they are left to rest for a time, and later the cigars are ringed and placed in boxes to be marketed. The boxes are sealed and marked with the month and year of manufacture, the date from which the age of the cigars contained in the box begins to be measured.
Although before reaching the table of the torcedor, the tobacco has undergone long processes of curing, fermentation and aging that last at least two years, after binding a process begins by which the leaves will continue to undergo micro-fermentation processes that will gradually improve cigars, provided they are kept in the correct conditions.
Like many other issues in this vast world of cigars, their aging is also the subject of great controversy among connoisseurs, so it is not possible to reach conclusions or issue decisive opinions on whether or not to leave them aging once they have been acquired. However, some of the issues to consider are worth knowing.
First of all, it is necessary to know that not all cigars improve their taste and aroma over time. Only premium cigars -though not necessarily all- expertly crafted from carefully selected and processed high-quality leaves, are perfected with aging.
Many people wonder how long would be an appropriate period to age the cigars once they have been bought, and that is another issue where there are no unique truths, because it will depend on the curing process that the leaves used in their preparation have received. But some connoisseurs say that tobacco flavors often tend to become milder over time, because both some of its components and moisture travel through the leaves and are distributed more homogeneously in the cigar, which induces a more uniform combustion that produces subtle changes capable of bringing out flavors that would otherwise be hidden by stronger ones.
To age the cigars once they have been purchased and make these processes occur, humidors are used, which are nothing more than a wooden box, made expressly to store cigars. The humidors provide ideal environments of humidity and temperature so that the cigars do not get wet or dry, in order to preserve their essential aroma and flavors. Many experts agree that they should be left there for at least six months to experience the new flavor combinations that may emerge.
On the other hand, there is a general opinion that cigar boxes with less than two years old in the manufacture should not be bought, but it is important to know that, today, most of the premium cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, are ready to be smoked as soon as they arrive at the retail stores because they are the right age and excellent conditions to be smoked.