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Long-term Aging in Ziplock Bags

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Tonight, I smoked a very interesting, and exceptionally delicious cigar:

A 2001 Partagas Corona from an original cab of 50. When I first got the cab, in 2004, I set aside 25 cigars to smoke, and put these into a cedar SLB. I placed the remaining 25 into another cedar SLB which in turn I sealed in a ziplock bag. Then stashed 'em down deep. Both boxes have been stored in the same humidor, under otherwise identical conditions.

I've been smoking the "unsealed" cigars now for several years. Originally, these were very good, very strong cigars. But by the time I had finished the "unsealed" cigars, they had lost most of their strength and much of their flavor. After all, I reasoned, they were ten years old.

When I finished the last of the "smoking" stash a few months ago, I dug down and found the ziplock-sealed box. Tonight, I smoked the first from this "sealed" SLB. The contrast was nothing less than stunning. The first example from the "sealed" SLB was still strong, robust and flavorful. It was also much sweeter than the last of its "unsealed" siblings.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
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Interesting, I'd like to hear how the rest of the sealed cigars turn out. I've heard that cigars which are sealed or don't get much airflow tend to age slower. So perhaps what you're tasting is that youthful strength that you had at the beginning?

EDIT: This sounds like a pretty cool experiment, tempted to try it for myself and see if I get a similar result

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This sounds really interesting. I don't suppose you had the foresight to do this with any other cigars as well so you can compare?

Call me selfish, but now that I have heard about it, I don't want to have to wait 10 more years to hear about the comparison...

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I've kept mine in ziplock bags through the years and as a common sense ploy left some of the zip lock unzipped. Basically I don't find it very helpful as it seems to over-humidify my smokes. Just best to get a good air-tight humidor that will keep your smokes properly benefiting from the cedar lining. I've also noticed that cigars left in their cellophane sleeve (NC's) and then immediately smoked after removing them have left eye-burning smokiness in the air, whereas my seegars taken and smoked from being left open and resting in the humidors have that wonderful, relaxing, velvety blanket of Habana dreams :cigar::daydream:

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This sounds really interesting. I don't suppose you had the foresight to do this with any other cigars as well so you can compare?

Yes, I have. I'm a fan of the Hoyo Regalos EL's, and bought several boxes of the original release. I put one box in a ziplock bag, and set it aside. I smoked an entire box of the "unsealed" Regalos, and just loved 'em. I'm now about a third of the way through the "sealed" box, and while the effect is nowhere near as dramatic as with the ten-year old Party Coronas, I can tell the difference. The cigars from the ziplock-sealed box are richer, stronger, and IMHO, more flavorful. I've also got an uncracked box of 2002 Ramon Allones 898's which has been in a ziplock for over six years. Maybe it's time to sample...

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Yes, I have. I'm a fan of the Hoyo Regalos EL's, and bought several boxes of the original release. I put one box in a ziplock bag, and set it aside. I smoked an entire box of the "unsealed" Regalos, and just loved 'em. I'm now about a third of the way through the "sealed" box, and while the effect is nowhere near as dramatic as with the ten-year old Party Coronas, I can tell the difference. The cigars from the ziplock-sealed box are richer, stronger, and IMHO, more flavorful. I've also got an uncracked box of 2002 Ramon Allones 898's which has been in a ziplock for over six years. Maybe it's time to sample...

I know you are on to something, I used them all the time but with pillows and cedar chunk of wood.

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This has me quite interested, Bob - great thread!

Can I just clarify exactly what you're doing? So you boxed the cigars, zipped up the box in a ziplock, and placed the box/bag into your huimidor to rest for all those years. Nothing else in the bag but the box and cigars.

I'm very curious to try these with some of my cigars.....but I'm also wondering if some of my older boxes have lost or will now lose their flavour and strength, not being bagged or anything in my humidor. I don't really have many old Partagas cigars to see for sure what happens in my humidor. Should I start bagging my full boxes for aging?

I think If I am able to buy multiple boxes of the same cigar during my deployment, I will try this - Thinking specifically of the stronger ones, the Punch PCs, RASCCs, maybe even those Trinidad Coloniales that blew me away. Not sure how much difference I will notice If I did it with ERDM PC's.

One last question, Bob - were those '02 Coronas in a ziploc bag? B) The one I tried before I left was strong, rich and wonderful - I cannot wait to try the next one when I return from sea next year!

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Fascinating. Thank you for reporting on this. May I ask in what kind of storage you kept the cigars? Perhaps a large armoire-style cabinet?

Wilkey

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Very interesting.

Is it a safe assumption then that one would notice more difference with stronger cigars (the Partagas Corona) than with milder cigars (the Hoyo Regalos)? Or is that just too much of a generalization?

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Very interesting.

Is it a safe assumption then that one would notice more difference with stronger cigars (the Partagas Corona) than with milder cigars (the Hoyo Regalos)? Or is that just too much of a generalization?

I think that's a worthy hypothesis to test. If preservation operates by reducing the percentage of flavor lost, then it makes sense. For example, dropping 2 units of flavor out of 10 would be a more subtle change than dropping 20 units out of 100. First, the absolute number of flavor units lost is greater with the stronger cigar and second, the remaining 80 units of flavor would provide a greater quantity to sense, detect, analyze, etc.

Note, here I'm mixing up "flavor" and "strength" a bit as I'm not yet clear on how or whether the two relate in this thought experiment.

Wilkey

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Hello Fellow FOHers,

A very interesting topic, to be sure. The flip side to the zip-lock bag question though is, what does this say about the normal aging process, or those cigars left in their boxes in the humidor? What I mean to ask is, I thought one of the goals/delights was an aged cigar, which over time might become more rich and complex. What I am hearing by this experiment, is rather that the cigar is becoming less rich and complex over time?

Thank you all for sharing,

Curtiss

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This is a good thread! :clap: Thanks for sharing the information.

I assume that cigars in tubes could act quite the same way as cigars in zip-lock bag. Reduced breathing in both cases.

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I'm wondering if the zip locked bag cigar matured differently than cigars stored in the humidor or if they stopped maturing when they were sealed.

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Very interesting. I'm going to be watching this topic.

I would believe two boxes of cigars, one in a ziplock bag one not, would have differing effects on how the tobacco ages and it's properties change over long periods of time. Be it better or worse I'm not going to say.

I take it you try to squeeze as much air out as possible? Not a big puffy air filled.

I keep singles in ziplock bags, sure doesn't hinder their flavor.

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Definitely very interesting. I've been debating about this for a few years myself. Hmmmmm......

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Great stuff - thanks for sharing the your findings.

May I ask in what kind of storage you kept the cigars? Perhaps a large armoire-style cabinet?

Wilkey, not to speak for Shrink, but I seem to recall him having a large beverage cooler - like the ones you see in a convenienve store with

the sliding glass doors for soda, etc.

A very interesting topic, to be sure. The flip side to the zip-lock bag question though is, what does this say about the normal aging process, or those cigars left in their boxes in the humidor? What I mean to ask is, I thought one of the goals/delights was an aged cigar, which over time might become more rich and complex. What I am hearing by this experiment, is rather that the cigar is becoming less rich and complex over time?

Great question. From what I've read here, I've taken to understand bagging as slowing down the aging process. But I'm now left with more questions

as well.... Is it possible that bagging allows for maturation (melding of flavor, etc) without the detrimental effects (flavor loss, etc) of aging (time) ?

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....From what I've read here, I've taken to understand bagging as slowing down the aging process. But I'm now left with more questions

as well.... Is it possible that bagging allows for maturation (melding of flavor, etc) without the detrimental effects (flavor loss, etc) of aging (time) ?

Great thoughts and observation, Ross. That's exactly my thoughts.

This is kind of putting things on their head, compared to what I've understood about bagging as well.

Definitely interesting.

Would this then similarly relate to how the jarred cigars are such a classic item then? How they age and mature well, but the flavours and potency stay omnipresent, for lack of a better explanation. I guess, although to a lesser extent, this would be similar to the varnished box effect, and also for those cigars that are fully parchment-/waxed-paper-wrapped, when compared to standard cigars packaged in standard dress-boxes. Although, to a lesser extent than bagging, these all lead to a form of the same effects, no?

Never really thought about it being to obvious this way. Always just thought about bagging as exclusively slow aging them, not really flavour-preservation, so to speak. Always been something that we talk and discuss from time to time, with how some people "bag" their cigars, but this just is a nice chunk of comparison now.

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I have heard about this for quite some time and have a friend who seals every box he buys to age in a vacuum pack, without sucking all the air out. I tried one of his aged 2004 Ashton VSG's and it was exceptionally good. I don't think it proves that aging boxes inside sealed bags is better than not, but it doesn't seem to adversely affect the cigar.

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Very interesting. Sealed or not..the air is going to enter the ziplock via osmosis. Of course that depends on the type of ziploc you're using. The air entering will enter at a slower rate..the air within the ziploc will also seep out via osmosis so the ziploc is just slowing things down. As to how this affects the cigars all I can guess is that the reduced air exchange aids the "aging" process. The "freshness" of the cigars is maintained over time. So far the experience on this is positive. What I'd be concerned about is capturing the less ideal conditions in that ziploc'd bag. Such as too much humidity that could cause damage over time. Cigars last because they can "breathe" over time in the right conditions. I've put some customs in ziplocs just to prevent any possible beetle outbreaks but now I'm wondering if I should do a similar experiment? Take a fiver of a particular cigar and seal them off and try them again in a year and compare against the non sealed version. For those of you that have Cazadores, is the foil pack airtight? A better experiment would be to take two boxes with with the same codes..unseal one...let both sit for a couple of years and see what difference it makes.

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I wonder if the difference between the two groups of cigars is not the bag, but simply that you hadn't opened the bagged box for 7 years.

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I vacuum packed some cheap NCs about 7-8 months ago to see what would happen to them. I had seen some sold in Costco that had been vacuum packed and I wondered if this would hurt them.

Also I was curious if one could vacuum pack and then leave out of the humidor.

I used a kitchen style food vacuum packing device readily available in the US. I packed 5 cigars together and included a round, disk-type hygrometer on top of the cigars.

I did a "light" vacuum packing instead of creating a high vacuum. In a previous experiment I saw a high vacuum tended to crush the cigars.

For the first several hours the hygrometer seemed to hold the humidity at 70% even while out of a humidor.

The next morning the hygrometer was reading 66% if I recall correctly.Over the next 24 hours (36 hours total) the humidity in the package was in the lower 60's (Ambient air humidity was around 40%)

I figured this wasn't going to work so I put the sealed cigars back in a humidor. 24 hours later the humidity in the sealed package was nearly identical to the humidors.

So, it appears the vacuum sealing material slowed down but did not halt the diffusion of water vapor from the package to the room air. And the process was reversible.

Maybe slowing the water-vapor and air exchange does slow the process of aging.

Bob

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I ziploc all of my cigars (see pics here: http://www.friendsofhabanos.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=84876&st=20) to slow down the aging process as much as possible -- at the rate I smoke, they would expire otherwise. I have found that the cigars that are bagged do taste more concentrated (regardless of level of strength), but take a very long time to get "ready." I have some Partagas Tres Petit Cornoas from 1997, and some Partagas Coronas in cabinet from 1998, that still taste pretty closed. The TPCs are super strong, and the tastes haven't fully coalesced, despite the box being 15 years old.

My preference is for smokes that have matured, so this method works best for me. Someone who likes fresher smokes (with a bit of mongrel, as Rob might say) may not find this methods as appealing.

FWIW, I keep my smokes at 61% humidity/60 degrees Farenheit.

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Seems like two things could explain the differences:

1) The humidity in the sealed bag, if truly sealed, might have varied from that in the un-bagged box- as a result of the bagging; and/or

2) The cigars in the un-bagged box oxidized and off-gassed differently than those in the bagged box.

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Would you do that with a 2010 or 2011 box?

I always vent my boxes or leave it cracked open a bit to let the ammonia escape. :confused:

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Awesome thread! I'd love to hear from more people who've done this type of aging (i.e. without any fresh air being introduced).

I've considered this myself, especially on older cigars or cigars that I think are great but on the verge of loosing something.

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