Did you know that your tobacco ages like wine? Actually, I think it ages even better! A lot of tobacco smokers will not even smoke recently purchased tins of tobacco but rather store them for aging, the storage place is called a tobacco cellar. So now you know what people mean by, "hey you should cellar some of this stuff." (see picture above)
Here are some tips on aging/cellaring your tobacco.
#1: When you find a blend you like it is always good to pick up 1 can to smoke now and 3 or more cans to cellar; one can to smoke 6 months later, one can to smoke 1 year later, and 1 or more cans to smoke 5-15 years later. Most major changes occur after the six month mark then the changes are more subtle and take longer to occur. There are general stages: 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years - all of which will show distinct changes but after five years the process will slow significantly.
#2: All tobacco does not age the same or does not deliver the same bang for your buck in terms of aging. Virginias and Perique blends will age most wonderfully. Beyond that you have Turkish and quality Orientals that will do alright, and possible Latakia though not great. Aromatics may or may not age it all depends on the casing which is responsible for killing the early aging process. Just not a good candidate.
#3: Tin vs. Bulk Storage and Aging. The best way to age tobacco is to buy it in a sealed tin and keep it sealed. Bulk tobacco simply doesn't offer the same results. Once you expose them to air the aging process is cut but not all is lost. If you find a tobacco you like you may buy in bulk and if its still fresh you can break up the tobacco and transfer it to air-tight jars like Mason or Ball jars. Make sure your tins are stored in a cool and dry place...you don't want rusting...nothing worse than aging a tin for 10 years only to pop it open to see it ruined by a hole due to rust. No need to refrigerate the tobacco either which may cause damage to the cell structure of the tobacco anyway.
DO NOT vacuum seal! Bad idea all around. You need some oxygen to maintain the aging process so stick with any air-tight jar and you will be good to go.
Also I prefer to store bulk tobacco in smaller jars of 8oz mainly because you are gonna want to test them over time and if you put all your tobacco in one large jar once you open it you are stuck smoking the entire bulk you stored for aging even if you think its not quite ready yet. Whereas if you spread it over several 8oz jars you can smoke up on 8oz jar and leave the other jars for another date should you need to.
#4 Ok you have finally aged a tin of tobacco for six months and you are ready to sit down to smoke it. Before you do though you should go out and purchase a fresh can of the same tobacco so you can notice the changes, especially if this is your first time or you are not yet familiar with the subtleties of the tobacco you are smoking.
#5 Need a way of tracking what tobacco is in your cellar? There is a free online tool that allows you to enter all the data about your tobacco and begins to track the age for you. Plus this will allow you and your friends to see what you have in your collection and aging. Everyone I know uses this online software at http://www.tobaccocellar.org
What you have never had aged tobacco? You can also buy aged tins from smokers like you at the tobaccocellar.org.
Hope this helps! And until next time may your pipes be lit and your cellars full!
*The entire contents of this article are written by Chris Rehers