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Vintage Cigars - Well, What Does That Really Mean?

You hear the term "vintage" associated with certain cigars, so what are your initial thoughts? Exceptional blend? Rare tobacco? Specially aged tobacco? Specially aged cigars? Expensive?

Macanudo Vintage 2006 (left) and Macanudo Vintage 1997 (right) - Courtesy of General Cigar Company

​In the case of cigars, the term "vintage" is not much different from the reference to vintage wine. Vintage refers to the specific year (which may be found on the band or the box) in which the wrapper leaf (or binder or filler tobacco) was harvested. For a manufacturer to make a vintage claim, the year of this particular harvest must be an exceptional year, so that the tobacco leaves cultivated are reserved to age for a future vintage blend to be created. In addition, the term "vintage" may be used in the industry to indicate that specific tobacco is several years of age. And because vintage cigars are limited in production quantity, they are generally pricier.

The problem is that some cigar manufacturers may misuse the term to make their cigars appear to have undergone a longer aging process and make their brands more attractive to consumers. And unfortunately, there are no standards for a vintage designation or classification, so use of the term may be ambiguous. It has been reported that a manufacturer may label unsold batches of tobacco, that they need to get rid of, as "vintage". This false advertising of tobacco that may be of lesser quality than truly aged tobacco of outstanding quality compromises the integrity of this industry - and there's no room for that in an industry in which manufacturers, although competitors, hold each other in the highest regard and respect.

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