Winter 96/97
Volume II
Issue 1



by Dr. Adrian Bartoli

It's nearly impossible to turn on the television for any length of time without espying hordes of manly "ho-ho-ho-ing." Santa-esque actors, barely able to disguise their superfection of how all those years of Shakespearian training have come to this. Likewise, it's difficult to smoke even a few cigars without hearing tales of pre-Castro Revolution cigars. Most of use are like to balk when we hear that the going rate s about $75 a stick. What could POSSIBLY make a pre-Revolution cigar SO much better than one rolled today? I mean, the tobacco plants come from the same seed; the rollers are still the same (though they may have relocated.) Yet anyone who has tasted a pre-Revolution cigar will recall its seemingly limitless complexity, a certain musty elan, the sweet kiss of decay that the cigar left gently lingering on your lips. What it comes down to, of course, is aging.

Cigars change as they age. Anyone who has bought a box of cigars, smoked a few and put the rest away for a few months has probably discovered this. The first time it happens, you say to yourself, "I don't remember it tasting like this before..." Then you start wondering if the cigars have gotten some blue mold disease and you start scrutinizing each and every cigar in the box. Then you start wondering if you're going mad. But, don't worry! It's just the natural aging process! (Of course, I mean!) This aging process is probably most pronounced in the first year. Some people prefer cigars young and fresh while others appreciate an older, more experienced cigar -- it's all a matter of taste. To those who prefer the flavor of aged cigars, the obvious question is, "Hey, why not age my own cigars?" Since vintage cigars are not commonly sold (and, when they

are, the prices are exorbitant), this turns out to be a pretty good question.

The basic ingredients of cigar aging are: 1) cigars, 2) a place to age your cigars and 3) time. The amount of time you age your cigars, is, as I said, a matter of personal preference. In general, you should probably age them at least a year, but I've never been able to wait that long. Now, the last thing you want to have happen is to patiently age your cigars for a year or more only to find that after all that, they taste like dirt! This is where #1 and #2 on the ingredient list come into play. The first thing to think about is what types of cigars you're going to age. Like politicians, not all cigars age well. In the game of aging, a cigar must be built to withstand the rigors and challenges of -- well, basically sitting motionless in a box for a really long time. No big deal, right? Wrong! As we shall see when we discuss #2, there is a virtual WAR going on inside your humidor, and your cigars must be built like battleships to survive! With each day that cigars age, they lose an infinitesimal amount of the oils and aromatic compounds that give them flavor and character. If you start out with really light, grassy-tasting cigars, within a few years you will have cardboard! Look at the ends of the cigars to find the ones rolled with darker, richer tobacco. Keep in mind that these cigars, which when aged will have pleasantly rich flavors, when young may smell like a kitty litter box that hasn't been changed in a month, much in the same way that good wines for aging are too tannic to drink when young.

In addition to selecting good tobacco, one

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