By Tad Gage
There has always been a considerable amount of discussion, and information, about aging cigar leaf once it’s picked, the value of aging tobacco for years in tercios (burlap or palm leaf wrapped blocks before leaves are turned into cigars) and the merits of aging cigars once they’re constructed. You often see discussions of vintage leaf and years of aging and maturing.
However, between the initial air curing of the tobacco leaves and their long, slow aging in bales as they await their final destination as cigars is a violent and not terribly romantic period in a cigar leaf’s journey. It is a decidedly nasty process that may also be the single most important stage in creating a good cigar – Fermentation. Imagine a barn redolent with the stench of decaying vegetation. Consider the 12 labors of Hercules as punishment from the Greek gods for his destructive raging after his wife’s death. One of those tasks was to clean the foul-smelling Stygian stables in one day. While Hercules handily solved the problem by diverting a river to wash out the stables, there’s no such luck with a tobacco fermentation warehouse.