One of the greatest aspects of enjoying premium cigars is the unique, personal experience. You wouldn't believe the amount of decision making that takes place when an individual chooses how to enjoy his or her cigars. I'm not just talking about their pre-lighting or smoking rituals, but the many factors that must be decided long before the cigars are actually lit. Each enthusiast must first select cigars to purchase and enjoy, then decide how to store them once at home. High or low humidity storage, long or short term aging, proper temperature control, stock rotation, and many other concepts surrounding cigar care are hotly debated in the cigar community. The only truths that exist surrounding these various philosophies are that there are no truths, only individual personal preferences, and that's what makes being a cigar enthusiast so exciting! One of the most controversial storage questions still remains today: the great cellophane debate, a question we hear on a nearly daily basis. Should I keep the cellophane on or off my cigars?
Cigars have been around for over 500 years. Relative to this time frame, wrapping cigars in cellophane before shipping from production facilities is still a fairly new concept having been developed by the Newman Family in the first half of the 20th century. The advent of cellophane prevented damage when shipping and also preserved freshness. Removing or not removing the cellophane from your cigars before putting them into your humidor remains a personal decision, but there are pros and cons to each. In deciding which route is right for you, consider the following:
How Important Is Aging To You?
It is true that cellophane slows the natural aging process of a cigar. While cellophane breathes, it does inhibit the maturation process. If you prefer to save your cigars for extended periods of time to achieve certain flavor and construction characteristics, changes will happen much faster without cellophane. Conversely, if you enjoy your cigars within a few months of purchase on a routine basis, keeping them in cellophane or not will have little to no impact on your cigar's flavor or performance, so you might as well keep it on.
How Frequently Do You Handle Your Cigars?
If you're like me, you love checking on your collection. This involves the ocular check, but also picking up your sticks and running your hands over them. Over handling your cigars can have an adverse effect on their wrapper leaves; even the oils from your skin can change the flavor or cause burn problems, believe it or not. If you like to handle your cigars regularly, keep the cellophane on. This will ensure the cigar's flavor and construction remain in perfect condition.
Do You Take Your Cigars On The Go?
Unless you only enjoy cigars near your humidor or in your home, you may very often remove a stick from your humidor and put it in a travel case or slider bag, especially if you plan on taking it with you to your chosen destination. Cigars not wrapped in cellophane, particularly aged cigars, are much more susceptible to damage. If you're like me, you're the type of person who constantly keeps a cigar close by; be it in your shirt pocket, car, briefcase, you name it. Leaving the cellophane on will save you frustration.
Personally for me, cellophane is a matter of necessity. Unless you have a good reason to take the cellophane off of your cigars, you should leave it on. In my humble opinion, it adds a level of protection. That said; there are ways to have your cake and eat it too. When I bring a box of aging cigars home for my collection, I always save the cellophane after I remove it and store it near the box. Once my prized cigars are aged to my liking, I put the cellophane back on to slow the aging process in an attempt to freeze them right at my preferred optimum level of maturation. If cellophane slows aging, why not use it as a tool in nurturing your cigars? No matter what you choose, there is no right or wrong answer. It's your decision and as long as you are happy with your decision, that's all that matters.