While aging cigar tobacco is a massively important part of the process in making a cigar, did you even realize that there’s actually three different steps in aging the smokable leaf? I’ve visited several factories and it is beyond impressive to see all the steps that are involved in making a cigar, and of course seeing how the aging is done is kind of amazing as well.
First off, there are a ton of steps to making a cigar and it’s said that somewhere between 100 to 200 pairs of hands can handle just one single stick. First you seed, then plant, then grow and harvest, then dry in curing barns, then wash, then place into piles for similar color. The tobacco also goes into fermentation which removes ammonia and other nasty things. This helps to bring out the excellent properties in the leaf while getting rid of all grassy or vegetal notes.
And then it’s time to go through the first stage of aging. The tobacco sits for short periods of times in bales where when the middle reaches a certain temperature, then the bale gets rotated until all parts reach that same temperature. Different types of leaf are meant to reach different temperatures depending on how it’s used in the cigar.
Once it reaches the desired heat, the bales are either wrapped and placed on shelves and long-term aged for generally two to five years or, can be placed in barrels for aging. (People don’t realize that ALL of Perdomo’s leaf is barrel aged.) Aging is an expensive and timely process that takes up a whole lot of warehouse space as you can imagine.
After it’s allotted time, the leaf gets taken from the shelves and is used for rolling and creating the cigars. And when the torcedor has done his or her job and the cigar is ready, it goes into the 2nd stage of aging. The rolled cigars are placed in small bales of around 50 sticks wrapped in paper and placed in an aging room on shelves anywhere from a few months to a year or even longer depending what kind of a cigar the master blender is creating. This time allows the filler, binder, and wrapper to marry while achieving the desired result of body, strength, and taste.
Once the cigars are aged, the bands are added, they’re placed in cello, then into their boxes or bundles. Are you starting to get the feel of how much work goes into making good cigars? I’ve always said that it’s amazing they don’t cost five times as much.
Now, I’ve spelled out the cigar factory’s 2 steps of aging process, but the third step is all up to you. It really is up to you how long you’ll let your prize possessions sit in your humidor. Some cigars are just going to sit a few months or a year until you smoke them. But there are those of you who want to age your cigars even longer. And I believe that the key is to age stronger, more full-bodied cigars, not mild to medium bodied. If you age for several years, your sticks will mellow down and smooth out which will give you a ton of flavor in those full-bodied treats you started with.
I know guys who experiment with aging their cigars different lengths of time to find out when they actually hit they’re peak of flavor, and that can be different for almost every cigar that you’re aging. Now of course you don’t have to age at all and most of today’s non-Cuban manufacturers make their cigars ready to smoke when they are purchased. But again, they’re your cigars and it’s totally up to you when you want to smoke them!
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I have found that some brands need to age in my humidor for 60 days or more to reach peak flavor. All Padrons are an exception. They are great right out of the box.
You’re absolutely right about that, Peter… some more, some less…