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Cigar Diary: Mexico's Cigar King

Max Gutmann is one of the world's great collectors of Cuban cigars as well as Mexico's official Cuban cigar agent.
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Armand Assante, Mar/Apr 2008

(continued from page 7)

Gutmann: I guess it was about the same time. I started buying a couple of boxes here and there and I started a small collection. I realized that cigars were like wines; they got better with age. And now I have cigars in my collection that are over 50 years old, pre-Castro cigars. It's fun to have them and smoke them from time to time. They are not cigars that you are going to smoke every day.

CA: How many cigars do you have in your collection? It seems like a lot.

Gutmann: No, no, I only have about 1,500 boxes or so. I take very good care of my cigars and now it is easy to know how old they are because every box has a date on it when the cigars were put in the box. No one really cared about that until about 10 years ago. It was when you broke the story on the special code on the back of the box that told where the cigars were produced and when they were put in their box.

CA: Some people argue that cigars do not improve with age. What do you think?

Gutmann: Of course they do. But they have a certain lifetime. It is like wine. They can improve, but there is a point, if you don't smoke them, that they don't get any better. They lose some of the quality. But easily up to 15 or 16 years.

CA: What period is your favorite time to smoke a Cuban? Five or six years?

Gutmann: I have a lot of my cigars from eight to 10 years of age. I don't mind smoking younger cigars, but I like them with age.

CA: When do you think the 109 will be right to smoke?

Gutmann: I smoked the 109 the other day, from the Partagas anniversary humidor of 1995, and when I took the cigar from out of the box I thought it smelled perfect. It was unbelievable and I think that my 109 will have the same thing. In five years, it is going to be incredible. I hope we don't smoke them all!

CA: What do you think is a good strategy for someone who wants to start a cigar collection?

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