Aging takes many forms in the premium cigar industry. Cigarmakers age fermented tobacco in bales, typically for two to several years. Aging cigar tobacco gives it more nuance, softens rough edges, and generally improves the product. This is particularly important with stronger varieties of tobacco, such as ligero. Many manufacturers also further age their cigars after rolling. This process can be as short as a month or so or more than one year. Not only does this help the component tobaccos (filler, binder(s) and wrapper) marry, but it can make the cigars more pleasant to smoke. Connoisseurs who purchase cigars often take this step even further by aging their smokes in their cigar boxes inside of a humidor, sometimes for decades. This is known as box aging.
Fine cigars, like fine wines, can improve with age. While not every cigar will get better over time, ones that are full flavored, rich and robust in youth are likely candidates for long-term aging. With almost every cigar there is a point of diminishing returns. Many consider five to ten years to be optimal, but we have smoked—and enjoyed—cigars that were decades old. Cigars that are at least five years old, but often much older, are reviewed in the Connoisseur’s Corner section of Cigar Aficionado magazine, and many receive exceptionally high scores.