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David Savona

Better With Age

Posted: Dec 12, 2012 12:00am ET

I turned 44 this year, so I don't consider myself old but I'm far from young. I'm reminded of my lack of youth on a daily basis, whether it's from looking in the mirror at my bumper crop of gray hairs or in the little reminders I hear from coworkers. One of them in particular (I'll keep him anonymous, but his last name rhymes with "Fittaker") enjoys reminding me that he was only eight years old when I started working for this magazine, more than 17 years ago. Funny guy.

An even more painful reminder of my fleeting youth came about a week ago, when I played in my annual football game. While I failed to shed blood on the gridiron (that was my friend Jim) and didn't need to be carried off the field (that dubious honor went to my buddy Tim), going head-to-head with a stronger, faster, 27-year-old player left me with a misaligned shoulder. Pass the Advil, and forgive me if I don't raise my arms above my head for awhile.

So my body isn't improving with age. But cigars certainly do. I'm reminded of this fact as I puff on a Davidoff No. 1, a gran panetela that was rolled in Cuba way back in 1986, the year I graduated from high school and went on to college.

Davidoff gran panatela band.

Back in 1986, my hair was jet black, my knees were sound and I would have bounced back from that football game in about 15 minutes, rather than needing weeks of physical therapy. The years have taken a bit of a toll, you might say. But the Davidoff I'm smoking has fared quite well. The cigar burns absolutely perfect, and has developed notes of caramel, honey and almond, with exceptional balance. It was 7 1/2 inches long when I started, and I've just removed the band to keep on smoking. I'm not going to tell you the score—I'm saving that for the Connoisseur's Corner page in the February issue, which will be out in early January—but I think you can tell it will be quite high.

There's a vibrant market for aged cigars, especially ones that have been properly stored, as this one was. In a recent London auction, these smokes commanded more than $100 apiece.

Those prices are certainly not for everyone, but you don't need a fat bankroll to smoke aged cigars, you only need patience. I wish more cigarmakers dated their products, but I make a point to write the date on the back of every box of cigars I come across. When I find a particularly great one, I try to lay some down to see how they mature. Age won't make a bad cigar good, but it can make a good cigar great, and can turn a great cigar into a classic.

Try it yourself.

You can follow David Savona on Twitter at

Comments   15 comment(s)

Andrew Sobota — King George, VA, USA,  —  December 12, 2012 10:25pm ET

Great post. I find the Personal Humidor very useful. I wouldn't be able to keep track of all my singles and five packs without it! I've started collecting as many cigars as I can store properly, so I'll be interested in comparing my reviews as they age over the years. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to the Top 25 countdown.

Ryan Breeland — Oxford, Mississippi, USA,  —  December 14, 2012 1:41pm ET

Tell Clay to shove it. My brother went to school with him. Anyway, I heard about the Connecticut shootings, and wanted to extend my condolences. I hope there wasn't anyone you knew directly affected by the tragedy. Of course, anyone with kids in one way or another is affected.

Taylor Franklin December 17, 2012 12:45am ET

David, the new coiffure suits you, gentlemanly, refined, artistic, overall a befitting vintage.


Mike Gardner — Sandy, UT, USA,  —  December 18, 2012 1:04am ET

Great blog post. I have just a few years on you and not to try and discourage you, but consciously enjoy your near vision because one day in the next few years you will be reaching for some reading glasses so you can cut your cigar.

David Savona December 19, 2012 2:42pm ET

Ryan, the shootings in Connecticut have affected all of us in one way or another. As the father of a young child, I can't imagine the grief of the parents who lost their children. I have never been so troubled by the news. It's hard to even write about the subject. I have a few friends who live in Newtown, and I'm having dinner with two of them tonight. Thankfully, none of them lost a child or a loved one in the attack. But they are suffering nonetheless. This brutal tragedy would be unbearably painful for any community.

David Savona December 19, 2012 2:42pm ET

Taylor, thanks very much. Vintage: I like that. And Mike, thanks for the warning about the reading glasses!

Gary Korb — Easton, PA, USA,  —  December 21, 2012 9:17am ET

Hi David,
Excellent post. I, too, have felt the sting of middle age, and a lot longer than you. I'm also impressed that 1986 Davidoff held up so well. I suppose some cigars fare better than others. My stash ranges in age from several months to almost 10 years, and the older sticks have been excellent. Take good care of that shoulder and have a Merry Christmas.

Salomon January 2, 2013 11:17pm ET

Great post!
Sometimes you have to be very brave to not smoke a great cigar and have the patience to wait a few years -while you are seen it in your humidor at daily basis- to smoke it. But I totally agree. It is worth it.
Best greetings from Mexico City!!!

Marilyn Rosica January 4, 2013 12:06pm ET

Have a suggestion for a profile with a former record industry exec who has been smoking cigars daily for MANY years. How can I reach David Savona?

David Savona January 4, 2013 2:10pm ET

My email is

Thomas Person — louisville, KY, USA,  —  January 4, 2013 5:50pm ET

I so want to steal this paragraph and have bumper stickers or plates made for it!

"Age won't make a bad cigar good, but it can make a good cigar great, and can turn a great cigar into a classic."

Well said sir!

David Savona January 4, 2013 9:45pm ET

Gary, Salomon and Thomas, thank you.


David, In all of the recent videos you use a cutter that I am not familiar with. May I ask you what it is? Thanks!

David Savona January 7, 2013 9:17am ET

Angelo, that's a Lamborghini Le Mans cutter. I like it quite a bit.

Rachel Mendler April 4, 2013 4:47pm ET

Aged cigars are really great, I agree!

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