Tobacco aging process
The third and last process to which tobacco is subjected after harvest is aging. In this stage, a complex ecological transformation takes place which, under certain conditions of temperature and humidity, changes the physical and chemical characteristics and significantly improves the aroma and flavor of the tobacco leaves.
This cycle generally takes 24 to 30 months to allow a host of microbial and enzymatic actions and other chemical interactions to occur in the leaves, which play an important role in improving the quality of the tobacco during processing.
In this phase the treatment of the leaves is differentiated according to the function they will fulfill in the cigar. Thus, the leaves that will be part of the filler and those that will be used for the binder are ventilated for several days, on platforms called barbecue pits. They are then packed in containers called pacas and transferred to the warehouse where they will age for a large period of time.
The strongest leaves that make up the casing, called light and medium time, are subjected to the longest aging period, which lasts at least 2 years. The leaves of medium strength, called dry, require a period of between 12 and 18 months of aging, while the leaves of minor strength (blown and binder) require a shorter time, although it should never be less than 9 months. The variation in the time required for the aging of the different types of leaves according to their fortresses, means that more than one separate harvest is needed to make a quality cigar.
For its part, the leaves intended to act as a layer are packed in containers called tercios, made with yagua, a textile fiber from different palm trees in Latin America.
It is very interesting to know that each bale and each third carry a label that contains all the information about the leaf, including the size, the year of harvest and the date of packing.
The aging of cigars
There is another aging process that can occur after the cigar is completely made. However, it is a completely different process, during which it will only be possible to add value to the flavor or texture of the product if the temperature and humidity conditions in which it is allowed to stand are appropriate, and if the variety of cigar from which it is used treat, meets the requirements to undergo that additional aging process.