Over the four-day weekend I selected three cigars from my Lost Sticks tray to see how they fared after some aging. Each of these cigars was older than my youngest son.
Thursday night -
Gran Habano #5 Pyramid (5 years, 4 months)
Paired with Jameson Select Reserve
Smoked with Steve and Shaun on my back porch
Wow, wow, wow... The difference in this cigar was apparent as soon as I freed it from the yellowed cellophane. The wrapper was glossy and shiny, literally glistening with oils. Prelight aroma was still strong. Overall strength had abated somewhat. The signature pepper-and-spice flavors were still very much present. The "sweet flavors" and "lingering tart" finish I described in my 2007 review had metamorphosed into something altogether different. This cigar now had the richest, deepest, strongest finish of any cigar I've ever encountered. It was like my mouth was coated with a thick coat of tobacco goodness. The closest cigar I can compare it to is the Cuban Cohiba, only bolder and better. The draw was easy but not too loose. Construction was good; the cigar only needed a single touch up over 90 minutes.
Friday night -
Gran Habano #1 Robusto (5 years, 10 months)
Paired with Thomas H. Handy Sazarec Rye on ice
Smoked with Steve and Shaun on Steve's back porch
When I reviewed this cigar in 2009, I described it as "a very light, airy cigar that is slightly sweet on the tongue but slightly bitter on the finish". Well, no more. This cigar, too, benefited from age.
The cellophane sleeve was faintly yellowed, and this cigar had a toasty, pungent prelight aroma. Whereas the GH #5 Corojo sported a glistening, oily wrapper after five years, this Connecticut wrapper had grown very dry to the touch and wrinkled. The first thing I noticed upon lighting it was a burst of pepper that had definitely not be there six years ago. This lasted for a good 10 minutes before it subsided into a decidedly mild-medium taste profile, but still heavier and more flavorful than it used to be. There was no touch of sweetness anymore. The best improvement was clouds and clouds of thick, creamy, white smoke on every puff. This was a remarkable improvement for what had been a very average cigar.
Saturday night -
Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet Toro (5 years, 4 months)
Jameson Irish Whisky, standing in the pool on an unseasonably cool night
Much like the Gran Habano from Thursday night, this Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet also mellowed, replacing some of its original strength with richer but less potent flavors. There was just a trace of pepper that stood out in my nasal cavity but not on my tongue. This particular cigar did not develop any tooth. Draw was pleasant, and burn was ok. It produced a speckled black-and-white ash.
No doubt the Sol Cubanos benefitted from their five year nap, but not as much as the other two cigars. Why is this?
Perhaps I can speculate that, as a general rule, very strong cigars benefit the most from extra age; it allows them to add flavor, and the corresponding loss of strength is not detrimental because they were overly strong to begin with. Mild cigars can also benefit; the loss of strength and spice is barely noticeable, if at all, because there was precious little to begin with, and aging them fosters richer, creamier tastes. If there is any latent spice in a mild leaf, aging may also allow that develop a little more. Medium and medium-full cigars benefit the least from extra aging because the improvement of the flavor is offset by a losses in body, strength, and spice that significantly alter the fundamental profile of the cigar.