New enthusiasts may not fully understand the importance of keeping premium cigars in a proper environment. For enthusiasts who usually enjoy their cigars as soon as they purchase them, chances are you’re getting a perfectly humidified cigar. If you plan on aging them, however, you’ll need to consider a humidor and follow some critical guidelines to ensure they remain in perfect condition.
It shouldn’t be difficult to determine the condition of a cigar simply upon sight and touch alone. A cigar that is dry will be hard to the touch without any give and become highly susceptible to cracks in the wrapper. If your cigar has dried out, slowly re-humidify it by being placing it in a properly maintained humidor for a few weeks. On the other hand, an over-humidified cigar will be very soft to the touch, become hard to light and keep lit, and have a bitter taste. An over-humidified cigar will also have filler tobaccos that swell up that can cause damage to the wrapper. Over-humidified cigars should be dry boxed back to optimum humidity before enjoying. To dry box, simply place the cigars in an empty cigar box without a humidifier so that the dry air and wood can remove the excess moisture. Also, adding in a shot glass of plain, dry white rice will help speed up the process and absorb additional moisture. Usually, this process takes only a couple of days. Some aficionados will often dry box all their cigars with thicker wrappers (typically maduro or Habano wrappers) for a day or two before smoking as these are the varietals that tend to be over-humidified.
In order to prevent your cigars from being too dry or too humid, cigars should be kept in a place that mimics the environment in which they were born. A humidor is essentially any enclosed environment with a constant humidity. For instance, you can keep cigars in a Ziploc bag, however, without the introduction of any humidification element inside, the cigars will gradually begin to deteriorate and dry out over time. At that point, the interior environment will gradually adjust to the relative humidity outside the Ziploc bag.
Tupperware containers and coolers can also be used as humidors for a short time. The problem here though is the completely air tight environments hold humidity so well that without anything to absorb moisture other than the cigars, you run the risk of dangerous spikes in humidity. This is why a two-way humidification devise that can both emit and absorb moisture is essential when storing cigars on-the-go. Humidified herf-a-dors and travel cases are perfect for bringing cigars along on trips and vacations but generally not recommended for long-term storage. And don’t even consider using your refrigerator as a humidor. Besides the temperature being way too cold, refrigerators remove humidity from the air as they cool making the environment unsuitable for cigar storage for any length of time.
A well-crafted, traditional wood humidor has reigned supreme amongst aficionados for ages. The wooden interior of the humidor has the ability to absorb moisture which in turn helps to regulate the humidity inside. That is why it is important to season a brand new humidor or one that has been out of use by introducing the interior wood to enough moisture first before placing your cigars inside. Most quality humidors come equipped with a Spanish cedar interior which is less prone to warping in higher humidity levels and can impart a pleasant aroma to the cigars over time. The humidifier, interior wood, and your cigars all work together to keep this stable environment.
Lastly, it is important to purchase a humidor in which you’ll be able to keep adequately filled. For instance, if you try to only store five cigars in a large 100-count humidor, the empty space will put your humidifier in overdrive and make it hard to sustain a high enough humidity level. For this reason, it is recommended that you keep your humidor at least halfway full at all times. Ranging in size from small personal desktops to large-scale walk-ins, the temperature and relative humidity inside a humidor needs to be regulated just the same. Besides humidity, temperature plays an important role as well when attempting to maintain a proper environment. You should keep your humidors in a place with a constant comfortable temperature. If the temperature within your humidor goes above 75 degrees Fahrenheit for too long, you may run the risk of the developing mold, especially if the humidity is also high. Depending on personal preference the humidity can vary within a window of 65 to 72 percent. Both can be monitored easily using a calibrated hygrometer.
Although storing your own cigars may sound a bit overwhelming at first to newcomers, with a little know-how and the right equipment you’ll be on your way to aging and enjoying your own collection of premium cigars – a worthwhile hobby to say the least.