What do you do if someone gifts you a premium Montecristo Supremos Edicion Limitada 2019? You want to save it for a special day, and you don’t yet own a cigar humidor? So what about storing Cuban cigars? How long should you store it before it dries out?
Cuban cigars are firmly at the top of the premium cigar pyramid. There is no competition. Cuban cigars are made of 100 per cent natural tobacco. The Vuelta Abajo y Partido regions of the country are renowned for this. This is an industry with a tradition that goes back to the 17th century, when the first factories started production.
So a luxury cigar experience starts and ends with a Cuban product. That said, let’s get this on the record first. The ideal method to store a fine cigar is in a cigar humidor. It needs to be properly seasoned, humidity between 65-70 per cent. Temperature should be between 68-70 degrees F. Humidors replicate the climate that fine Cuban tobacco was originally grown in. We’ve talked about humidors in the past.
Five things to do to keep your cigar fresh
But what about if you don’t own a cigar humidor? Maybe you are just starting out as a cigar smoker. Or perhaps you are at the cottage, or away from home where your humidor is located. Here are five things you can do. Understand though: these are emergency, short-term solutions only. And whatever you do, don’t put just toss it in the freezer or fridge.
You don’t want to have spent good money on a fine Cuban cigar only to find it dried out because you didn’t store it correctly. That’s especially true in the winter, when the home gets drier. And on the other end, heat combined with too much humidity can cause mould to grow. Storing cigars in a space with the right humidity levels allows you to keep those essential oils in the tobacco. These are natural, organic products. Cigars are sensitive to the surrounding environment.
So temperature and moisture need to be controlled. Remember – once the cigar is dry those oils are never coming back.
Don’t store the cigar in the sun
Reach into the kitchen drawer and grab one of those Ziploc bags if you have to. Seal it up while removing as much air as possible. Even place a small, moist sponge in there. Remember to make sure water doesn’t get on the cigar. And keep it in a cool, dark environment. You’ll get a week, maybe a little more, using this method.
Boveda packs, which regulate humidity, are a must. If you can get your hands on one, go for either 65 per cent or 69 per cent, for a Cuban cigar you are storing in a Ziploc bag. Boveda packs are two-way humidity control packages you can buy online. Just toss one in the bag (or the humidor). They come in a variety of RH (relative humidity) levels depending on your storage situation (including the type of humidor you have). Boveda packs at 65 or 69 per cent RH are ideal for Cuban cigar since they’re tightly wound and will mould at higher RH levels.
Tupperware is good as well, the kind with the snap-on lids for an airtight solution. You’ll easily get a small wet sponge, even a small bowl or shot glass with water into these. Remember to always use distilled water. Tap water is loaded with chemicals and impurities. Again, store it in a cool, dark place – away from heat vents.
And once again, keep in mind that with these are short-term solutions. You are temporarily creating the conditions that a humidor provides. Consistency in temperature and humidity is the name of the game.
Alright, we’re getting a little ghetto here. Truly, the bottom of the barrel. Wrapping it in plastic wrap may work for the short-term, but it’s jumbled and messy, especially if you wrap a small damp sponge or Boveda pack with it.
Cooler or small fridge
If you want to up your game a little bit, and there’s a cooler in the house, you can also create a temporary solution for storing cigars there. A standard cooler will do the trick when it comes to keeping the relative humidity where it needs to be. Toss a wet sponge or a small container with water in there with the cigar.
In all of these short-term solutions, if you are not going to smoke the cigar right away, keep an eye on it. A pinch test between your thumb and forefinger is the best way to test the freshness of the cigar. If it springs back nicely to shape you are OK. If it cracks a little, it’s getting dry. And if it bends or sags slightly, or if the end you light starts to “mushroom”, the cigar is too moist.