The Lifespan of a Vintage Habano


1/03/2014

British Simon Chase awed guests once again with his knowledge on this particular cigar, rolled with extra-aged tobacco leaves

The recently-concluded 16th Habano Festival had one of its peak moments during the master lecture on Vintage Habanos, dictated by UK’s Simon Chase, the auctioneer of choice of the celebrated closing dinners that this time around featured the chance to puff on an aged cigar.

During his presentation, Mr. Chase explained that vintage habanos are rolled with ultra-aged tobacco leaves. That means the leaves endured a long resting process that led to fermentation, owed in part to strict control of moisture, temperature, oxygen and light.

When quoting Min Ron Nee, author of the book entitled “An illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars”, Mr. Chase referred to the four aging stages. The first one entails decomposition –when tobacco fermentation gives off ammonia.

Then –he said- the first ripening sets in, a phase when tobacco reaches its aroma in a process that could take up to fifteen years, depending on the kind of habano. The second ripening, however, could be in the neighborhood of 15 to 25 years, and that’s the time when cigars get mellow-tasting and elegant, a condition that only occurs in strongly-tannined habanos. The third and last ripening –somewhere between 25 and 50 years, is the end result of overall synthesis triggered by those mysterious chemical reactions that, as Mr. Chase puts it, habanos gets an “ethereal” taste.

“Vintage habanos are pretty rare. But the taste you can expect is not always the one you feel. That’s why they are valuable, especially for collectors,” he said.

Also during his presentation, the prestigious auctioneer also touched on the olden character of the cigar boxes, as well as the evolution of warranty seals in the course of history.