How can you tell if a cigar is fresh?

Like a good wine, often cigars will become better with time and thus the concept of a “fresh” cigar is misleading. If your cigar has a dry appearance, is beginning to unravel or seems peeled and flaky then it hasn’t gone bad, it just hasnt be treated with the proper care it needed. This can include being stored outside of a humidor and in an environment which was too hot or dry. This can also happen when the cigar was stored inside a humidor where the temperature was consistently fluctuating causing the tobaccos contained within to expand and contract. This can cause damage to the outside wrapper giving it a cracked or peeled appearance and potentially making it seem like it is not fresh. There is a way to revive these cigars to improve them but to get them to their original state may be unrealistic. This method takes a lot of patience but it can bring even the most destitute cigars back to life.

A new cigar which may be considered “fresh” is more likely to burn unevenly and have a stronger and sometimes even bitter taste. The same cigar placed for a long period of time within a humidor or appropriate instrument will become more mellow over time allowing the flavors to become more refined and giving you a more pleasurable smoking experience. This is particularly true for larger ring gauge cigars. These cigars tend to have a greater volume of tobacco, a lot of which is not directly exposed to the outside environment. This makes them the optimum cigars for aging and you can leave them in the humidor for as long as you see fit, at which no point they are going to become stale. It is, however, important to note that cigars which have a cooked or cured wrapper will not dramatically improve with time though they won’t necessarily get worse either. This may also be true for cigars of a lower quality which tend not to yield much improvement with time either due to the original quality.

Cigars are a complex recreation and one mans disaster may be another mans victory. You may prefer the stronger, more potent flavor or a cigar which has never been aged or you may prefer to covet your cigars within your humidor for years before finally indulging. There really is no right or wrong answer and even cigars which seem at first glance to be a lost cause can be brought back to life by a little TLC.

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