Do Cigars Expire?

Do Cigars Expire?

Unlike mangoes, bread, potato chips or milkshake, cigars don’t go “bad”. Quite the opposite, they become finer with time, just like wine. But that does not apply to all of them as some lose the punch along the way.

If a cigar appears dry with some cracks, it doesn’t mean it has expired. It could be that the cigar has been mishandled or was not rolled properly. Most of the times, the dryness and falling apart is attributed to humidity variations which make the tobacco to expand and contract irregularly.

If the cellophane covering on your cigar takes a yellowish tone, you are lucky! You’ve just won yourself one of the finest cigars any aficionado would shell out any amount of dollars just to put it between their fingers.

Once a Cigar has gone stale, there are two things you won’t find in it; nicotine and flavor. It will have a flat taste without any spark. Any attempts to re-humidify it should be aborted pronto. It’s already a lost cause. So, if you bump into some boxes that you had forgotten to put in your humidor, just discard them.

Generally speaking, the more aged the cigar, the smoother and richer it gets. If you bought several cigars and upon smoking one of them, you realize they have a bitter and harsher test, keep them in your humidor for several months. When you smoke them afterward, you will note their taste and strength has improved. Aging doesn’t change a lot about your cigar; it just makes it “rounder” resulting in the cigar having a mellow taste.

“Laying down” your Cigars for some time also makes them easier to burn and draw. Freshly prepared varieties may burn unevenly or even become more challenging to draw. So unlike other products which go bad with time, the tobacco in cigars loosen up and blend resulting in a refined taste.

The next time you see people buying many boxes of cigars and storing them away in their humidors, they know what they are after. When they give you a single stick a year later, you will appreciate the value of patience.

Interested in aging your own cigar boxes? The duration of aging matters a lot. Give them a year at the least. However, low quality cigars may not see much improvement no matter how long you keep them in your humidor. As some would put it, crap in, crap out. Nevertheless, best quality cigars will come out with exceptionally tasting flavors- even if they went in smelling like a dumpster.

Some cigars are designed for aging more than others. For instance, the large ring varieties have more tobacco and will always come out with a lot of flavor improvement. Their large size also makes them immune to the effects of humidity and temperature fluctuations. This stability makes them the best cigars to store for many years.

Also, before you age any cigar, make sure you know what wrapper it’s made of. Some wrappers like those of Maduro varieties may not improve in flavor from the aging process because they underwent “curing” or “cooking” to achieve their strong taste and flavor. The non-natural curing process renders them “unresponsive” and hence can’t benefit from the aging process.

Ligero varieties lose their power upon aging becoming medium-full bodied while their flavor improves. Connecticut wrappers, on the other hand, become more mellow and smooth. The aging process is a transformational one. Therefore, you need to be sure whatever will come out is what you desired.

If cigars had an expiry date, many of them would have probably expired right in the industry and retailing stores. Once processed, some manufactures age them for about 60 days before dispatching them to the retailers and distributors. Some of these middlemen also store them for additional days, months or years before selling them as ready to use- which sometimes comes at an extra cost.

In short, if your cigar appears stale or “bad,” it could be due to any of the factors discussed above; cigars don’t expire.

So, how long can cigars last?

If humidified in the right way, handmade cigars can outlast you. For proper humidification, you need to invest in some of the exquisitely made humidors. To avoid your cigars going stale, keep them at 21° C and a corresponding humidity of about 70%. Any fluctuations in humidity and temperature will result in your cigars cracking or splitting.

Some cigar varieties are just fine the way they are and do not need storing. These include the smaller versions and the European cigars-those that have been “baked” hence eradicating the need for aging as was explained earlier on. Most of these types are the ones you hear people call “dry” cigars.

Generally, the non-aging cigars maintain their freshness for about one to two years. If not subjected to extreme temperatures, they can last up to 5 years without losing their potency or flavor.

What happens when I can’t afford an excellent humidor?

If you don’t have enough cash to go for the top-of-the-line humidors, there are cheaper temporary options. You can buy Humi-pouches from the nearby tobacconist or cigar shop. These plastic Zipped bags come in various sizes and have a humidified lining that ensures your cigars are in the best condition for about 90 days.

Their price ranges between 5-12 dollars. Another popular and cheaper alternative is “Tupperdor,” a Tupperware vessel with Spanish cedar lining that can store your cigars for some time once you’ve added some humidifier in it. However, this is a temporary solution. You’ll need a better alternative sooner if you have many cigar boxes.

Wrap up

Cigars don’t expire. When stored poorly, they are just likely to crack, split or go stale. A stale cigar won’t have the clout it’s supposed to deliver. So, it’ll just be a waste of time smoking it. Make sure you have a good humidor if you hope to enjoy your sticks for long. Hop over to JR Cigars to see some of the great cigars you can add to your humidor.


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