Today's subject is how to properly age and maintain your cigars to increase the odds of a better smoking experience.
Aging cigars is an art itself because patience takes practice. So quick today are we to just find a good cigar in our local shop and as soon as we get home we immediately cut the head, and light it up. I want to share some information that might help you enhance your smoking experience and get the most out of your cigars. Several cigar manufactures age their cigars before they ship them out to tobacconist shops, which hopefully will give you a little shortcut to getting a proper smoking experience without you having to age it yourself.
Ideally for proper humidor aging you want a 70% relative humidity and a 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For longer term aging you may want to consider a 66 to 67% percent relative humidity and a 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit. This should allow the oils from the cigar to permeate at a slower pace and age longer. Perhaps, if you are a avid cigar smoker, have two humidors; one for more recent smoking cigars and a second humidor to age special cigars for longer periods of time
Cigars of this caliber need to be handled with care and compassion. I recommend this pattern, finances permitting of course. Buy 2-3 boxes of your favorite smokes, and since the typical box comes in 24, set the second or third box in a long term aging humidor. Smoke 1-2 cigars out of your first box per month, By the time you get to your second or third box you would have aged them for around a couple of years. You would be amazed how the flavors meld together, the tobaccos harmonize, and rough edges are smoothed out.
Keep in mind not all cigars in your humidor age very well. Depending on the quality of tobacco blend used in the cigar, and how the cigar was handled before you purchased it, can play a part on how well they age and how much the cigar's profile will change. A general rule of thumb is the stronger the cigar, meaning more nictone buzz, the longer it could take to properly age. There are two main components to maintain and regulate the temperature and humidity in your humidor; a hygrometer and a humidifier.
Also, there is a difference on how well your cigars age based on what types of devices you use to humudify your cigars. Most people tend to you use passive humudification. Passive humidification are best used for smaller humidors or enclosures where humidity and temperature are more easily controlled. Examples of passive humidification systems are evaporation humidifiers or two way humidifiers. An evaporation humidifier has a simple spongelike material that is encased in a plastic or metal case with holes to let the water naturally evaporate. A two-way humidifier will seek equilibrium at a specific humidity level such as 70%. The two way humidifier, (also knows as reverse osmosis) uses hygroscopic properties to help create equilibrium. You might see them with a green foam and absorb a blend of equal parts Propylene Glycol/water mix to achieve 70% rH. You may also see a Propylene Glycol jar of "crystals" instead of foam to achieve the same effects. Be aware that using too much pg can sometimes clog your humidifier. If this happens dilute the pg with more distilled water and gradually add more pg as your humidor needs. Remember to use ONLY distilled water in this process. [For best results consult your local retail tobacconist]
To insure the most efficient and accurate humidity/temp, I would reccomend using an active humidification system. An example would be the Cigar Oasis(Tm). It's one of the most popular brand name active humidification systems on the market and has been tested tried and true. Active humidification systems use a reservoir of distilled water and most of the time are plugged into a power source, which actively sets and regulates the humidity via a hydrostat, or humidistat, to regulate your humidor. This will maintain consistency and not have to worry about checking your hygrometer every few weeks or few months. Whichever device you choose, remember to only use distilled water. Tap water can contain contaminants and alter the humidification process.
I would also recommend using a digital Hygrometer over an analog one. Digital hygrometers work by using electric currents to measure humidity. Some benefits of using a digital hygrometer is they tend to be more accurate than an analog hygrometer. Most of the time they come from the factory pre calibrated and also available with a temperature readout for more consistent conditions in your humidor.
Keeping your humidor regulated is not just to keep your cigars in top notch, it's also for your own health. If there is too much humidity in your humidor this could result in developing mold on your cigars, and if the temperature is too high then your cigars could be susceptible to tobacco beetles.
Whether you age your cigars for long term or short time, remember they require proper humidification and temperature to maintain consistent quality and quite frankly safety from getting you sick. The very premise of making a cigar is all about patience. From the time the farmer waits for the harvest, to the time the tobacco is fermented, to the time it takes to roll the cigars, the time it takes to distribute them, even the time it takes to smoke them. Nothing about the premium cigar making process is easy or rushed through. Patience is the key and if you can give your cigars the proper time, they can reward you ten fold.
"I can resist everything except temptation"