There’s nothing quite like lighting up a perfectly aged cigar, tasting that complex flavor, and the perfect aroma. But what if you’ve invested in a collection that has gone bad, simply because you didn’t know how to store your cigars, what each type of cigar’s shelf life is, and what not to do to cut your cigar’s shelf life short? Most cigar aficionados will do whatever it takes to keep their cigars tasting as fresh as the day they were made, especially if they’re premium cigars. Many cigar enthusiasts will even spend hundreds of dollars picking and choosing the finest cigars and planning on smoking each one on a special occasion. But how long do cigars last? Is it really worth it to collect and store high-priced cigars, only to have them lose their flavor over a short period of time? There are many factors that should be considered that can all factor into how long a particular cigar can hold onto its freshness and flavor.
Researching Your Favorite Cigar Brands
In terms of shelf life, do your research before you buy, especially if you’re willing to pay for premium cigars. The lifespan of a cigar will depend on many factors and can depend on the type of cigar you choose. Some cigars are meant to be aged for months or years before they’re smoked, while others are not. You’ll also find that cigars that have already been aged for a lengthy period of time go for a higher price, but if you’re not planning on smoking this type of cigar right away, then opt for a younger cigar so it can age nicely in your cigar storage system. By researching shelf life by brand, age, and environmental conditions, you’ll get a better idea of what you can expect from your collection or a particular cigar you enjoy. Below, I’ll go over these different factors more in-depth, so you can get a better idea of how to lengthen the shelf life of your cigars and what you’ll want to avoid in order to prevent age and poor environmental conditions from impacting your collection’s aroma and flavor.
Protecting Your Cigars-Proper Storage
If you find yourself spending hours choosing the right cigar, you spend a pretty penny on each one, and you enjoy the finest cigars, then the importance of using the best cigar humidor cannot be overstated when you’re talking about protecting your cigars and lengthening their lifespan. A quality humidor such as the Scorch Torch 25-50 Cigar Humidor, can keep your cigars tasting fresh for years. But in order to protect your investment, you need to be prepared for fork over some serious cash. But can a top of the line humidor really lengthen the life of your cigar collection? The answer to this question is dependent on many factors, each of which can determine the quality and longevity that will impact a cigar’s lifespan.
A cigar is made from a naturally grown plant product. The shelf life of any given cigar can be influenced by atmospheric conditions, in addition to many other factors, but storage conditions are very important. If the cigar is stored in an environment that’s too dry, then the cigar will lose moisture eventually and become brittle. If the environment is too wet, then this type of additional moisture can negatively impact the cigar’s flavor and can even make it difficult to light or you will have a hard time keeping the cigar lit. Either of these conditions can have a major negative impact on the shelf life of the cigar, in addition to its flavor and overall quality. A cigar that’s too dry will burn very quickly and will taste hot and stale. A cigar that’s wet will burn too slowly. In both cases, the cigar will not maintain its best qualities which include aroma, flavor, and its texture. Using a humidor will erase these concerns by providing the cigars with the type of optimal conditions that it needs in order to remain fresh and retain it’s best qualities.
Life in a Humidor
When a cigar is stored properly, you can expect its life to be extended by many years, as long as the internal humidity levels and airflow are maintained properly. Additionally, personal preference can often dictate the ideal humidity level in a humidor. However, I recommend maintaining a humidity level that ranges from sixty-five percent up to seventy-two percent. The cigars should also be appropriately spaced in order to enhance air circulation and keep the cigars tasking fresh, aerated and sufficiently moist. When you rotate your cigars on a regular basis, you can also help to expend its shelf life. If you end up keeping the same cigars in the same spot, whether they’re placed close to the humidification source or the reservoir, then the odds are they will end up absorbing a disproportionate amount of moisture over the coming weeks and months. To avoid this, try moving the cigars from the bottom row to the top row and the top row to the bottom row, at least once a month. If you have high-quality cigars then you may want to rotate them as often as every two weeks.
A humidor tends to vary in price, which is based on size, aesthetics, build quality, and other features. But regardless of how expensive or elaborate the humidor is, the most important thing is how well you maintain the conditions. For many humidors, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the reservoir and use only distilled water which will prevent bacteria or mold growth. You’ll also want to ensure that you replenish the humidification device or reservoir regularly. If done right, a cigar can last for many years in a humidor that’s maintained properly.
The Aging Process
Before a cigar can be smoked, it needs to mature over a period of several months before it’s even shipped out for sale. A cigar will develop a more balanced or refined flavor during this process, however, some cigar enthusiasts recommend waiting at least three months before you smoke a new cigar from your collection. Some people prefer to keep the cellophane wrapper on their cigar when it’s stored in a humidor, however this is actually counterproductive. Those new to smoking mistakenly believe that if the cellophane wrapper is left on that the cigar will remain fresh longer when in reality, they’re actually hindering the aging process.
The entire point of using a humidor is to allow the air to circulate around the cigars, freely. The cellophane also can create a type of greenhouse effect that will raise the temperature within the wrapper. However, if you don’t store your cigars in a humidor and there are no dividers in the box you store them in, then keeping the cellophane wrapper on can prevent flavors from mingling. The cellophane wrapper should only be left on if you plan on smoking the cigar within a matter of a few days.
As you store your cigars, you should keep in mind that they often thrive on the fragrance of their environment, so any surrounding objects will have an impact on their aroma. In order to minimize the aromas and flavors mingling and to keep your cigars tasting fresher and lengthen their shelf life, always use dividers in the humidor or storage box.
A fine cigar will grow better with age, however, eventually, it reaches its potency peak in terms of aroma and taste. Once a cigar has reached this peak, then it’s characteristics will start to decline, which means that it will start losing its aroma and flavor as more time passes. Because of this, younger cigars have more aging potential over a long period of time stored in a humidor, while cigars that have already begun to age for many years before they’re sold may not have as much to gain in terms of flavor and aroma.
How long do cigars last will depend on the cigar’s makeup, selectivity and care the cigar maker practiced when creating the blend, and how much attention you give to caring for them. A cigar can last two months or twenty years. There are too many factors to take into consideration to pinpoint an answer that will apply to every cigar.
The average, moderately priced cigar that’s stored in lax conditions in a humidor can stay smelling and tasting fresh for approximately five years. If you want a cigar that lasts much longer and will age nicely, then you’ll need to do your homework, research the brand, and how long the cigar has already aged. You’ll also need to pick up a top of the line humidor, learn how to keep cigars fresh by adjusting the humidity level, rotate your cigars often, and know the signs that indicate some of the cigars in your collection have peaked and should be smoked sooner, rather than later.