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Cellophane: The Great Debate


One of the greatest aspects of enjoying premium cigars is the personal experience each one provides. 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 respective 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. Higher or lower relative humidity, 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 My Cigars? 

Cigars as we know them 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 preserve 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 questions.

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, 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.

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 premiums and running your hands over them. Overhandling 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. If you like to handle your cigars regularly, it’s best practice to keep the cellophane on them. 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, you may very often remove one from your humidor and put it in a travel case or slider bag, especially if you plan on enjoying it on vacation (for example). Cigars not wrapped in cellophane, particularly aged cigars, are much more susceptible to damage. If you're the type of person who constantly keeps a cigar close by, leaving the cellophane on will save you from potentially preventable frustrations.

Speaking personally, cellophane is a matter of necessity. Unless you have a good reason to remove it from your cigars, leave the cellophane in its place. 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 at my preferred 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 as long as you are satisfied with the outcome.

Did you enjoy reading about this fruitful debate? Check out some of our other articles from the Study to learn about storing cigars, properly aging cigars, and much more!

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