Your Cuban cigars are an investment, so get a quality humidor to maintain their freshness. After all, when you sit down for a cigar after a long day, or have some friends over for a smoke and a chat, the last thing you want is to be handing out cigars that have dried out.
Aging cigars, for example, is a process that takes years. That’s why you need to focus on proper storage. Quality humidors will maintain the right levels of humidity and moisture needed to keep your cigars fresh. So cigars need to stay in a humidor until they are ready to be smoked.
You need to set an internal humidity and temperature range. Keep them there in a sealed environment, in those tropical island-like conditions. Cigars are natural, organic. Tobacco leaves expand or contract based on the air level around them. In a humidor you can store your treasured stash for years, if need be.
Cuban cigars: Protect those essential oils
After all, you don’t want to have spent good money on a Cohiba only to find it smokes like a dried shoe because you didn’t store it correctly. Storing it in a humidor allows you to keep those essentials oils in the tobacco. That’s how it stays humidified and keeps its flavour. Forget it when people tell you that it’s possible to replenish a cigar that’s been dried out. Once it’s dry those oils are never coming back.
And forget about buying a nice cigar, then storing it in a Ziplock bag and expecting it to be fresh when it’s time to smoke it a few weeks down the line. A single cigar in a bag will stay fresh for at least a week (longer if you toss in a Boveda pack).
So for the best bang for your buck, get a cigar humidor. The best way to maintain cigars is by storing them in the same conditions where the tobacco grew, was fermented and where the cigar were rolled.
They are also look great in your home. Humidors are quite elegant. They are larger in size, tend to hold at least 50 cigars. The really nice ones are solid wood, with brass hardware for the hinges and arcs to keep the lid stable.
Here are some basic pointers you should keep in mind, when buying a humidor.
Size of the humidor
How many cigars do you want to store? And are you storing boxes or single cigars, or both? One important rule – don’t over-pack your humidor with too many cigars. You never want to fill it to more than 60-65 per cent of its capacity.
You have set the perfect climate conditions in your humidor (follow the set-up directions when you buy it). It’s vital to allow room for airflow and humidity circulation. Any cigars at the bottom of a large pile won’t be exposed to the same correct humid and temperature conditions as the top rows. Your cigars are a valuable investment – both in the money you spend and the enjoyment you want to get out of them.
If you are looking to get into buying and storing (aging) boxes of cigars, then a desktop humidor (even one that holds 100) likely won’t be big enough. Desktop humidors with built-in dividers can only hold a few different brands. If you are aging cigars, you don’t want different brands of cigars piled on top of each other. Different types of cigars should not touch, so their favours don’t blend. If you are recreational smoker, and not aging stock, get one that will fit 50-75. And make sure you rotate them every two-three months.
Again, depending on what your plan is, decide on the style.
- Traditional or modern
- Hygrometer type: analog, digital, push communication devices. The hygrometer is the device in your humidor that measures both temperature and humidity levels.
What about those deep lacquer finishes and designs on the lid? There are different shapes and shiny wood surfaces. As said humidors are elegant pieces that complement your office or living room.
What’s the primary function? Do you need a travel humidor, desktop, or cabinet style? If you are going to hold a large stock, does your local retailer or cigar club offer rental facilities? Then your desktop humidor is one where you move what you are storing elsewhere over to keep a smaller stash. Perfect. Travel humidors are compact enough to store in your briefcase or luggage and will keep your cigars in tip-top shape during the trip. That’s especially true when looking at the hinges. Travel humidors, for example, will bump around during a a flight, even going through customs. And if you are worried about security buy a lock for it.
This is really where the rubber hits the road. When it comes to climate control, there are the important factors:
- Location of humidor. For relative humidity, you need the right combination of both temperature and humidity. Where you place the humidor in your home will impact that. You are dependent on the temperature of the room. For example, upstairs will be warmer. But if you are storing in the basement the temperature is cooler. You don’t need to plug in cooling units if your humidor is in the basement. Also, keep the humidor away from sunlight or drafts. That can cause temperature fluctuation.
- Maintaining a stable temperature for relative humidity. When buying a humidor, check the lid and the rim. The lid should shut tightly. However a quality-made humidor will still allow a minute amount of air to circulate in and out of the container. That’s a must. Ideal internal humidity level range is between 65-70 per cent. Internal temperature should sit between 68 and 70 degrees fahrenheit.
- Having a cigar cooler or a wineador for warm rooms/locations
What’s the humidification source for the humidor? Most desktop humidors come with a humidifier that you can fill with distilled water or humidor solution. The Spanish cedar that lines the inside of the box absorbs and emits moisture so your cigars stay fresh, age and build flavour.
Remember, after you buy the cigar humidor and bring it home, you have to prepare and season it. That requires patience. Placing your cigars into a humidor that’s dry will ruin them. Take a sponge that’s been soaked in distilled water and wipe down the entire interior of the box. Then leave the sponge on top of a plastic bag. Read the directions on how to prepare the humidification device. Only use distilled water – since tap water has minerals that will negatively impact the device. Leave it all overnight, with the lid closed.
Electronic humidifiers, crystal gel, humidipaks (like Boveda), and silica beads are other ways to add moisture to the cigar humidor after you have seasoned it.
Bottom line: the true measure of success is the condition of the cigars. If there is a little bit of oil present on them then you have done a fantastic job. If the cigars feel dry then get more moisture in there. And if there is mould on the cigars, or even worse, signs of tobacco beetles, you’ve gone a bridge too far. You’ll have to pitch them out. Then get counselling to deal with the depression afterwards.