Aged Cubans


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Why do you personally feel Cubans improve with age?

What about them do you feel improves?

 

Haven't ever smoked but a couple aged Cubans, so I'm curious about why people prefer them

 

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I can give you one example--I have a box of 2017 Bolivar PCs that I bought a couple of years ago--I was sampling them from time to time, and not getting much from them, so I hid them where I could forget about them.

This morning I pulled one out of the box and it totally blew me away--one of the best Cubans I have smoked so far.

Every cigar is different, but for this particular box the four year mark is magic.

 

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I think the common consensus is that Cuban tobacco isn’t aged prior to rolling it like non Cuban tobacco. Therefore it doesn’t really hit its perfect smoking age for a few years. Regarding the flavor the intensity and hot burn settles down a bit, the nuanced flavors come out more and the smoke becomes smoother on the aged cubans.


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I have limited experience, but in my limited experience sweet flavours come in stronger after a few years (then possibly fade away later), and strong pepper/spice flavours weaken slowly over time. Longer term it is hard to say, I have had some cigars in the 20 year old range, and they've generally been more complex, some having faded in taste, but having a lot of flavour, others still having a lot of taste as well as a lot of flavour. It's hard to say because in the period 1998-2003 where those cigars were from blends and strains of tobacco were different and it's hard to say what is due to aging and what is due to the difference between cigars of that time and now.

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I’ll mail you some if you can quit smoking!  PM me when you do. 
I will run out of cigarettes this afternoon and don't have the money to buy any more, so it looks like I'll be quitting later today.
I know that I'm certainly ready to quit.
I'm actually sick of smoking and get no enjoyment from them anymore

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37 minutes ago, Count of Montecristo said:

Really? I haven’t smoked a Montecristo #4 since 1999, they were my favorite. I picked up a box of Montecristo #5’s from 2019 last month, smoked one ROTT, one at one week, one at two weeks, and one at three weeks . I was sorely disappointed. I’d say these guys are going to acclimate for another three months before I smoke another. I hope the 2003 box of Montecristo #3’s I recently purchased are good. I separated them quickly after I realized there’s a huge difference in tobaccos. There are at least two things I’m aware of that affected the change in the type of tobacco’s they used, I heard Habanos was deliberately trying to mellow out their blends to attract younger smokers, or a newer generation something to that effect, and another thing I heard was they had bad years of tobacco with diseases that affected the top leaves. I would imagine that they had to introduce some new genetics to their tobacco crops at one point to move forward.  Thanks! 

There were two sets of changes in tobacco strains i believe, one in the late 90s and one in the early to mid 2000s, basically it was a weird time 1999-2001 and more broadly 1998-2005. 2006 to now seems to be broadly similar, no sick period and things smoke.better young. @NSXCIGAR and some others can comment as I wasn't really smoking cigars pre 2006. I've smoked old cigars since but I can't meaningfully comment on the effects or 20 years of age vs blend/tobacco differwncws.

What flavours or tastes did you get from the 1999 Monte #5? And vs the 2019 ones. I'd say give them 3-5 years and they might be better. Things are smoking better young now but many cigars that should smoke sweet (Cohiba, Trinidad) are not smoking sweet for me in the first year or two (2019-2020 boxes now).

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6 hours ago, smbauerllc said:

Why do you personally feel Cubans improve with age?

A general overview on aging from CCW:

Aging Cigars


Cigars are a natural, organic product, and undergo a process of chemical change if stored for any period of time.

Traditionally, it was generally agreed that cigars should not be consumed within a year of production.

Since 2006, this appears to have become less critical as Cubatabaco has begun using older leaf in the construction of new cigars, and has introduced new technology and better quality control of its processes, with the result that cigars are smoking better earlier.

Current consensus appears to be as follows:

Newly received cigars should be allowed to stabilise for around one month before smoking.
All cigars benefit from aging. A good benchmark for Cubans is 5 years.
Lighter flavoured cigars will "peak" sooner than stronger flavoured ones.
Cigars stored in less than ideal conditions will probably be damaged over time, rather than improve.
Although hugely variable depending on the specific cigar and storage conditions, most cigars will not benefit from aging longer than 10-15 years. Some rare cigars, however, gain a remarkable complexity when old.
Opinion varies greatly on this aspect of cigars; in the end it is up to individual preference. Establishing your own views on ageing cigars is one of the joys of cigar collecting.

As far as my personal opinion on aging of post-2001 cigars I have two fairly simplistic views.

The first is that it seems some cigars can be muted or bland for several years until things come alive. Aging can make flavors appear, become more prominent and more complex.

The second is that some cigars can be a little "rough around the edges" when young and aging can mellow and smooth things out. Some unpleasant tannic/bitter/ammonia flavors can dissipate with time. This is more of a pre-2001 aging viewpoint as many CCs prior to then could be very harsh, tannic and ammoniac and could be virtually unsmokeable without aging that out. 

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5 minutes ago, NSXCIGAR said:

The second is that some cigars can be a little "rough around the edges" when young and aging can mellow and smooth things out. Some unpleasant tannic/bitter/ammonia flavors can dissipate with time. This is more of a pre-2001 aging viewpoint as many CCs prior to then could be very harsh, tannic and ammoniac and could be virtually unsmokeable without aging that out. 

Of the vintage cigars I've had two still very much had a bitter/tannic aspect to them but not harsh. A 1999 RG Tres Petit Lonsdale and a 2003 SLR Lonsdale. I wondered if that was from the original blend/tobacco or from some aspect of long term aging. For all I know the others I had (1998 Partagas SdC no.3, 1999 Partagas SdC no.1, 2001 Hoyo des Dieux) may have had such an aspect in the past but it was entirely gone at present.

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1 minute ago, Count of Montecristo said:

I remember it was very creamy nutty floral sweet hay cedary and savory and you couldn’t get enough of it the ones I got now is nothing like that 100% mongrel

For me the closest cigars to that now would be RG Perlas and RG Petit Coronas especially: floral, sweet, and maybe the savory.

To me Montecristo 1,3,4 are now cocoa, coffee, twang. Montecristo 2 and 5 are some of that and cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Monte 5 (and I suppose 2) being rougher that 1,3,4 so you might enjoy those more as less mongrel.

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18 minutes ago, Bijan said:

Of the vintage cigars I've had two still very much had a bitter/tannic aspect to them but not harsh. A 1999 RG Tres Petit Lonsdale and a 2003 SLR Lonsdale. I wondered if that was from the original blend/tobacco or from some aspect of long term aging. For all I know the others I had (1998 Partagas SdC no.3, 1999 Partagas SdC no.1, 2001 Hoyo des Dieux) may have had such an aspect in the past but it was entirely gone at present.

I would say the unsmokeably strong bitter/tannic/ammonia flavors were most prevalent pre-96 with Criollo. Typically, they would dissipate within 2-3 years. MRN takes the stance that the presence of those flavors means the cigar hasn't reached maturity. He mentions his 15 year old (at the time) SLR Prominentes that he says still are ammoniac and "not ready". One could speculate whether that's the case or there may have been some sub-optimal processing. But who am I to question MRN...:covermouth: Maybe Nino can ask him if he's finally tried one in the last 15 years.  

Relating to our other discussion, you can see he mentions how strong both Punch DC and Lusi were in those days--unlike today.

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Just now, NSXCIGAR said:

I would say the unsmokeably strong bitter/tannic/ammonia flavors were most prevalent pre-96 with Criollo. Typically, they would dissipate within 2-3 years.

I can't say from firsthand experience. But from scouring old forum posts it seems the disappearance of the sick period wasn't generally acknowledged until around 2006, or some time around then. I don't know if that reflects the reality of the cigars and tobacco or the slow rate of social change in the cigar aficionado community :)

Can't find the original posts right now, but here's a 2011 post from @El Presidente saying that the sick period is less of an issue since 2006:

 

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1 minute ago, Bijan said:

But from scouring old forum posts it seems the disappearance of the sick period wasn't generally acknowledged until around 2006

I could still have been there in 06 but in terms of cigars that were truly unsmokeable young, I would say pre-01. 

MRN believes this first "sick period" lasts at most a year and less for almost all CCs. In those days it was unusual to get boxes that fresh anyway.

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Thanks for the enlightening info from everyone. Due to budget and storage space I can't really do much aging except for some one offs here and there, but have generously been gifted a dozen very nice, well aged smokes from members of various forums.

So far have only had a Diplomaticos no.4 from 2007 that I smoked on my birthday and it was excellent.

Look forward to trying more on future special occasions

4 hours ago, Count of Montecristo said:
Really? I haven’t smoked a Montecristo #4 since 1999, they were my favorite. I picked up a box of Montecristo #5’s from 2019 last month, smoked one ROTT, one at one week, one at two weeks, and one at three weeks . I was sorely disappointed. I’d say these guys are going to acclimate for another three months before I smoke another. I hope the 2003 box of Montecristo #3’s I recently purchased are good. I separated them quickly after I realized there’s a huge difference in tobaccos. There are at least two things I’m aware of that affected the change in the type of tobacco’s they used, I heard Habanos was deliberately trying to mellow out their blends to attract younger smokers, or a newer generation something to that effect, and another thing I heard was they had bad years of tobacco with diseases that affected the top leaves. I would imagine that they had to introduce some new genetics to their tobacco crops at one point to move forward.  Thanks! 

Interesting that you didn't like the recent No.5's.
I have smoked quite a few no.4's and no.3's from 2019 and 2020 and have really enjoyed them rott

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28 minutes ago, Bijan said:

2011 post from @El Presidente

One fascinating concept in that whole discussion was a "bland period" as well.     I am interpreting the "sick period" is when the ammonia smell is still present and the cigars taste awful (for some boxes, lasts no more than a year) while the "bland period" would be the next phase (which may exist only for some boxes) where the flavors are not yet present.

I think these periods are real (again, for some boxes) based on my limited experience.   

 

 

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aged cubans, well aged cigars in general, is a mixed bag.  i find time can round flavors out, sometimes making certain flavors more prominent and sometimes making them more balanced and less distinct.  like some have said, sample from the box over time to see if they are at a point that you like.  a crap box typically will always be a crap box no matter the age.  but if you try one and its in the sweet spot for you move that box into your rotation.  

early in my collecting i used to think ‘wow, this is a great cigar.  i gotta lay them down and let them become a stupendous cigar.’ only to find out a couple years later that they lost what i found to be great.  when the getting is good, smoke them.  nowadays i rarely get a box that has the ammonia punch that i used to get with a fresh box that needed to rest for sometime to become a great smoke.

i’ve also found that buying an aged box comes with some warnings.  i may crack the box and the first couple are great, but they age out quicker than i would expect.  i find aging them myself, where i know the conditions constantly allows me to let them go longer after cracking the box.  goes back to the thought if they are good now, put them in the rotation and not wait.  i’ve got a box of 08 BCEs that i got as aged stock that smoked nice the first few, i out them away for ‘special’ occasions and now they are not special.  shouldve just finished them while the getting was good.

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Very interesting discussion. 

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2 hours ago, smbauerllc said:

Thanks for the enlightening info from everyone. Due to budget and storage space I can't really do much aging except for some one offs here and there, but have generously been gifted a dozen very nice, well aged smokes from members of various forums.

So far have only had a Diplomaticos no.4 from 2007 that I smoked on my birthday and it was excellent.

Look forward to trying more on future special occasions

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Two solutions:

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2 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

Relating to our other discussion, you can see he mentions how strong both Punch DC and Lusi were in those days--unlike today.

The book was published in 2003 no? (reprinted in 2005 I believe) So the transition must have been some time between 1988 and 2003. And the turn of phrase "at that time" makes me think closer to 1988 than 2003.

Very interesting though, and hard to wrap my head around. But I guess that's how things were. I think it'll be hard for me to totally believe it without a time machine 😂

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46 minutes ago, Bijan said:

And the turn of phrase "at that time" makes me think closer to 1988 than 2003.

I would agree he means 88, and because the Prominentes were made only in 88. Criollo was in use then and through at least 95 and 95 was also the year of the "great mellowing", meaning strength was noticeably dropped in many cigars, particularly the Monte 2, PSD4, Lusi, RyJ Churchill and many of the DCs. Strength further decreased in the late 90s into 2001 until we're where we're at today. 

Many theories about the blend changes in 95. I think it's possible they weren't happy with the ligero from Havana 92 so they had to ration the remaining Criollo ligero in the context of tremendous production increases at that time. 

By the late 90s Havana 92 was out altogether so perhaps the new strains' ligero was more usable but still didn't have the flavor properties of the old Criollo ligero. I believe there may be some truth to that. I think the ligero from Criollo had much more flavor than today. In fact, it might have been the source of the rich earthiness of Boli and Partagas that has mostly vanished today. 

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