Question about aging


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9 hours ago, Philc2001 said:

You'll get all sorts of opinions on this, and here is mine. 

My strategy is to smoke my favorite cigars as often as possilbe and mix in a few new ones here and there so I am continually expanding and trying different cigars, whether through trades, splits or box purchases. But when I find a specific vitola that really lights up my taste buds I'll load up on that vitola and if possible I try to get the same factory code and month. This keeps me stocked up with the cigars I love most, while letting me build up and expand my palate to new vitolas. For the most part, I try to keep 3-5 different favored vitolas stocked up so I have enough of a rotation of different cigars. 

So with that backdrop, the process of stocking up is pretty straight forward. I smoke about 3-5 cigars per week, let's say an average of 4 cigars per week. That means a box (25) lasts 6 weeks. Therefore, in order to have enough cigars for a year I need eight and a half boxes. To go two years deep, I need 17 boxes, five years deep is 43 boxes or about 1075 sticks. Let's just say 1,000 sticks (40 boxes), and the rest will be cigars for sampling throughout the year to determine what to buy next.

Once you're stocked up, then it is a matter of replenishing your stock as you smoke. In this scenario, I would need to add one box every six weeks or so. It sounds simple when you do the math, but keeping with the routine is not always practical depending on finances or competing priorities. But as a guideline this gives you some idea of how you can pace yourself to get to the 5-year stash you desire. YMMV. 

This is also how I work it!  I currently have stock of regular production vitola for just over 10 years smoking based on my current smoking frequency of 1 per fornight.  I want to build that to allow myself 1 a week rather than the 1 a fortnight currently, so I can see boxes evolve over that period and enjoy a cigar more often.  So I am increasing my stock 2 fold.  As Phil has said, it is sometimes difficult to be this rigid, but it makes a good starting point!

Only trick is to adjust smoking rotation to allow for the best ageing for individual brands/marca.  Monte, SLR, RA - 3-5 years, Partagas, PL, Boli 5years+, for example.   Certain vitola stand out for aging longer, Party Lusi, PLPC, H Upmann Mag 46, for example.

Some may say bah!  Just enjoy smoking, and forget all of this anal nonsense!  And I agree with those people for the most part - but I am a scientist, so I enjoy adding a bit of "science" to every hobby I take up!

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Why bother? Yes i will be the black sheep here. Do you like to smoke cigars? Yes, go to next question. Do you currently have personal preferences? Yes, go to next question. Do pref

I kind of think this is something that has perhaps morphed over time. There was a time when Cuban cigars needed down time due to overall production methods, and perhaps to a lesser degree, tobacco str

Before I write my post I would like to add that I know I know I'm not a regular forum member so I understand if my post doesn't hold any weight. I read here pretty regularly but don't have the energy

1 hour ago, PigFish said:

Yet the collector community insists the answer is yes because they trade in the aged cigar market place.

I agree with most of what you said, but I have to disagree with this statement.  I think of cigar and wine collecting/aging to be very similar.  The market demands a higher price for aged cigars/wine for a good reason. Cigars, just like wine, can improve with age if the product is good to begin with (as you said).  Therefore, if you have a good wine/cigar and you enjoy the benefits of aging (which some but not all people do), the cigar/wine becomes more aligned with your pallet.  I enjoy young bordeaux, but aging definitely rounds out the tannins and brings out some wonderful complexities in some of the better bottles that you would not get when the wine is young.  The same happens to some cigars. Just my 2 cents.  

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Aging as the result of incidental hoarding pretty much fits me :) I buy what i like... and buy more than i need! What i will like 10 yrs from now... well that may be a crap shoot. And with the inconsistencies with CC who knows. Smoke, love, and laugh today and enjoy. And whatever is left 10 yrs from now, enjoy those too!

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I would like to add something - I don't see much difference between purposefully hoarding or incidental hoarding, if the purpose is to find out for yourself how cigars age over time.  I wish I had the funds to just be able to smoke whatever I want whenever and to buy more and therefore incidentally age, but I do need to bring some form of control over this hobby.  Even with this control, some incidental hoarding will occur because life tends to prevent being rigid about smoking frequency.

I have been smoking for a while, but I have never tried ageing boxes to see how they evolve - so I am performing my own experiment using the cigars I like to smoke, rather than simply agreeing with other people on either camp, one of which will say hang it, buy more of what you like so you hoard incidentally (I wish), or those that will argue on the collecting side for ageing or investment purpose.  I see no point in being so serious about it.

I am neither a collector nor an investment buyer.  I like to smoke, and I like to experiment.  I also don't like to have to buy cigars all the time, but rather be able to cherry pick only when something special takes my fancy, knowing I have enough stock to fulfil my normal smoking and to perform my little experiment on the side.  After all, knowledge comes through experience.  And experimenting for yourself is fun :)

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Agree on what @PigFish wrote. Aging cigars is neither mandatory nor economically advisable for enjoying cigars. Unfortunately, it gets strong support from many enthusiasts, and as such it drives behavior. it's very easy to get swept up in the culture and enthusiasm.

If you become a regular smoker, say 3-5 cigars/week, you can easily get by with a desktop humidor, or even just a tupperware container. In fact, you could easily just buy a box, put it into a ziplock bag with a boveda pack, and skip the humidor all together. But, back to the OP's questions:

1) How do you decide what to age? 

I never intentionally determined to age cigars. I just buy what I love smoking, and I can't smoke them fast enough, so they get old. There are folks who seek out specific brands or vitolas they anticipate will appreciate in value, and they may pursue those. I have no desire to be a cigar merchant, so that never appealed to me.

2) Do you base you decision on your love of a certain cigar or if it comes from a certain factory or if it has a certain flavor profile?

Yes, for me it's about what tastes best to me. I sample different cigars all the time, but I don't buy in any significant quantity until I find one that really rocks, and then I stock up on that vitola. Codes/factory are secondary  or even tertiary to me, I try to seek out the same factory/date that hooked me if I can. 

3) Why do certain cigars age better than others?

I don't think they do. Tobacco is an organic product, it starts to decompose the moment it is picked at the farm. When cigars age, in effect they are decomposing, and in the process a certain chemical reaction occurs. As a cigar ages (decomposes) the flavor and intensity may change, which some prefer over what it tasted like when it was young. It's all a matter of personal preference, nothing more. No one can really tell what the cigar will change as it ages, so for me when it tastes good to me I smoke the heck out them until I get tired of them. 

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Some really good advice/feedback.  I'll add a few comments:

- I started my CC journey buying samplers.  This gave me buckets of "sure, this could be for me," and "meh, glad I tried, but not my cup of tea."

- From here I I buy a box of cigars I think I'll like, and after a quick rest I smoke one.  If I like how it smokes, I continue through the box.  If I don't like how it smokes (I'm still too new to the game to determine if the cigar "needs time," or if it may just be an crappy box), I'll smoke something else and come back to the box a few months later.  It may not get better, but in the meantime I'll be smoking other cigars that hit the sweet spot.  So you can call this aging, but I call it always smoking what I like, when I like.  

- To the OP: It seems like storage and funds may hamstring you a bit when it comes to aging.  One thing you could do is grab some samplers to find what you like.  If you find a "standout cigar," try to hunt down an aged box of those specifically.  

 

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2 hours ago, helix said:

I'm in your camp piggy , what if tomorrow never comes ? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar . Now, what to smoke next......................

The question, old as manhood - should I be fatalistic, live only for the day and believe in kismat? Or be forward-looking and planning for a future?  :D

If I'd only hope for the worst, I hadn't planted an apple tree, built a house and fathered a child.... :lol3:  (and wouldn't possess a single box of cigars)

Aging, collecting or even, if you will, hoarding cigars and enjoying them is not mutually exclusive. Everybody needs to find his/her happy medium. But sparing cigars for later, while not having anything to smoke now - is non-sense. If that is meant I concur, but apart from that, aging cigars - be it for one year, be it for a decade - holds a special right in itself.

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6 hours ago, PigFish said:

Yes i will be the black sheep here.

Haha, you know Ray, in this respect - and respectfully - I disagree with many points here (as usually ;) when about this topic), but I like your post! In particular as we all know, you are a keen collector of the fine smokes!

Don't tell us it's by coincidence - it is all a well laid-out plan.  :lol3:

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I smoke on average 3 cigars a week, and buy way more than that. Most of what I buy goes into deep storage, with the occasional box going into the humi to smoke now. Smoke now stuff is mostly PCs and minutos that do alright young, as well as the occasional purchase from forum buddies that have fivers or samplers for sale.

My goal is to not crack a box until 5 years post box date, and at this point I have only one box that meets that criteria. In the next two years, however, I should have lots more available and my NC stash should be depleted by then, so I can sample stock at will and see how things are going.

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19 hours ago, Philc2001 said:

True. Cigars released these past 3-4 years seem to be quite approachable with minimal box age. However, I'm finding recent crop improves notably with 2 or 3 years age... so 2014 and some 2015 are smoking very well right now, and to me they are noticeably more flavorful than 2016 stock. I hope they continue to improve further.  

Agree 100% 

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1. Find what you like in an AGED cigar by sampling lots of different aged cigars as singles or fivers - lots of readily available sources for that.

2. Once you find what you like in an aged cigar(s), buy quality boxes of the current vintage for long term storage.

3. Bite the bullet and pay the upcharge to buy a box of the aged cigar(s) (you determined you like) to smoke right now.  Depending on how many cigars you smoke/week that will determine how many aged boxes you need to find.

4. Financially this may make the most sense.

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5 hours ago, mcease022 said:

Cigars, just like wine, can improve with age if the product is good to begin with (as you said).

I understand what you're saying, but for me the issue with the wine analogy (which I've used many, many times myself) is the lack of consistency with Cuban cigars. We can use our acquired experience and judgement, but we can never be sure what we'll get from the cigars in a box until we smoke them - early on or down the line.

My perspective on wine is a bit different. I feel much more confident that a good producer, who I've had experience with, will produce wines which will be more consistent in quality. The Cuban cigar industry, as I know it, does not have that track record.

This is not a disagreement with your point of view, or a knock on Habanos - just a point of discussion and a simple truth as I perceive it.

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@Colt45 you are absolutely correct. 

Wine is blended to achive a consistent result across years. 

There is only so much one can do with tobacco leaves. Vintage, finca and factory play important parts. 

My take-away from many a box review was that even within boxes there is a large variety of taste across the cigars. Marca has become a guiding post not an absolute.

Therefore I tend to view each cigar on its own merit, an adventure one might say. 

Although I do not look for great consistency overall, it has been my experience that aging provides room for the tabacco to marry, for the stronger elements to subside to some extent and thusly for the caramel and spices to come to the fore. 

This is how I prefer my cigars. 

As always, suum cuique

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so many good responses here, and I agree its what you would like all about experimentation, I enjoy more of mild smokes with lots of flavor so I tend to age the stronger cigars ( partagas d4 is a perfect example) had a few young ones but towards the end just a bit too strong, then I had some 05 sticks and wow what a difference so smooth even at the end. for the mild smokes its the opposite I noticed towards the end its completely muted ( young glorias, qdo's even siglo 2's I had) but after 5 years those muted flavors come out from hiding just an amazing transformation

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15 minutes ago, RijkdeGooier said:

Although I do not look for great consistency overall, it has been my experience that aging provides room for the tabacco to marry, for the stronger elements to subside to some extent and thusly for the caramel and spices to come to the fore.

Of course :) - I could never dismiss out of hand the possible benefits of intentional aging. I've a number of personal anecdotes and thoughts on cumulative posts here, but I guess I could never prove, with absolute certainty, anything.

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2 hours ago, Colt45 said:

I understand what you're saying, but for me the issue with the wine analogy (which I've used many, many times myself) is the lack of consistency with Cuban cigars. We can use our acquired experience and judgement, but we can never be sure what we'll get from the cigars in a box until we smoke them - early on or down the line.

My perspective on wine is a bit different. I feel much more confident that a good producer, who I've had experience with, will produce wines which will be more consistent in quality. The Cuban cigar industry, as I know it, does not have that track record.

This is not a disagreement with your point of view, or a knock on Habanos - just a point of discussion and a simple truth as I perceive it.

I still stand by my statement, but I don't disagree with you either ?

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2 hours ago, Colt45 said:

I understand what you're saying, but for me the issue with the wine analogy (which I've used many, many times myself) is the lack of consistency with Cuban cigars. We can use our acquired experience and judgement, but we can never be sure what we'll get from the cigars in a box until we smoke them - early on or down the line.

I do not tend to share that notion either. Yes, there will be inconsistency - but it will be in the young, as well as in the aged box. The risk and uncertainty about its future prospect may (perhaps) be higher in cigars, but the wine analogy still appears fitiing. And as to the proof of aging effects - granted - you can only smoke a cigar once. But overall and as a group both young and aged are depicted by a certain and clearly different character and quality that sets them apart. Not necessarily better, as that is a matter of personal preference, but different. Doesn't need a "same stick"-comparison to recognize that over the years.

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Brief note added - as some were bringing up an aspect of aging special or expensive sticks only: Not few of the best aged smokes that I've had had been coming from simple (avoid 'cheap' here), smaller-format but solid standard production boxes. Aging performance and price of a cigar don't go hand in hand. Big mistake to miss out on setting some of the "lesser values" aside for a longer nap (of course, only if you are a believer... lol).

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Great "first" post @Nico (in fact, I think it's your 8th already...:D)

And very much agree with your RyJ assessment. I think, a marca where the aging potential is often underestimated due to its usually good early approachability.

Do stick your head out more frequently here!

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Great post, Nico.  Very good and interesting comments, and your English is perfect, so don't worry about that!  Yes, let's hear more from you!

( The only language I can't figure out on FOH is whatever one they're using in the Cricket thread.  No idea what they're saying.  :)  )


- MG

 

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All the info about ageing is fine but you must store the cigars properly in order to get the benefit of time. My first box of MC#2 was shipped so moist that I couldn't keep the cigars lit. Harsh, acrid, and moist smoke. Much age benefit I  initially attributed to time was actually RH acclimation. For anyone new to the hobby I suggest buying a decent desktop humidor and an accurate hygrometer.If your goals smooth smoke you may find that moisture is the enemy.....not time.

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