The primary takeaway from this article is that cigars should be stored in a humidor until they’re ready to be smoked. When necessary, a sealed plastic bag with a small, damp paper towel may suffice for a day or so. But, for the sake of your cigars, a humidor is an essential piece of equipment.
A humidor is an elegantly simple device that keeps cigars at their best by maintaining them in a controlled environment.
Left out in a heated or air-conditioned room, a cigar can dry out in as little as an hour. However, in a properly maintained humidor, cigars can be kept for years, not only maintaining their quality, but in many cases improving with age.
Dedicated aficionados often have multiple humidors, including travel humidors. Some aficionados even keep different humidors for different brands of cigars, or to separate cigars based on provenance, as the scents from various cigars can in fact mingle causing subtle shifts in flavour.
WHAT IS A HUMIDOR?
Simply, a humidor is a storage container designed to allow controlled air flow, and maintained internal humidity; its internal temperature should be maintained in a narrow range of about 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidors come in all sizes. Travel-sized humidors hold just a few cigars, while room-sized humidors hold thousands of boxes of cigars.
Note that a humidor is not a sealed environment. Inside an airtight moisturized container, cigars are likely to become moldy. For that reason, it’s better to have air circulating between the cigars in your humidor than it is to pack them in too tightly.
SEASONING A HUMIDOR
New humidors require a bit of patience and preparation before they are suitable for your precious cargo. Resist the temptation to rush the process, as putting cigars into a dry humidor can ruin good smokes.
Most humidors have an interior made of untreated Spanish cedar, the preferred wood for aging premium cigars. The wood needs to be humidified, or seasoned, before the box is ready to hold cigars. Some humidors have varnished or finished wood interiors that don’t need to be seasoned however.
To season, take a new, clean, sponge and wet it with a liberal dose of distilled water. Wipe down all the exposed wood, including any trays and dividers, and the interior lid. Avoid using a paper towel or a fraying cloth; these will literally leave a paper trail on the wood. After you’ve wiped down the wood, squirt the sponge with more distilled water, then place it inside the humidor on a plastic bag — to avoid direct contact with the wood — and close the lid.
Next, prepare your humidification device according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Close the humidor with its humidifying element and the damp sponge, and leave it overnight. The next day, refresh the humidification device (it may not need it) and check the sponge. If it is fairly dry, add more distilled water. If it is very damp, leave it alone.
Let the humidor sit another night, and then remove the sponge and plastic bag. The walls of the humidor have now absorbed all the water they need, and now you can safely store your cigars. It’s time to buy some cigars!
Note, for cigars packaged in aluminum tubes, it’s best to remove the cigars entirely from their individual packaging before placing in the Humidor. As mentioned, airflow is important, and removing cigars from tubes ensures the best environment for cigar storage. Tubes may be kept and used for short-term cigar storage. Cigars wrapped in cellophane may be kept in individual wrappers. Cellophane is a breathable material which allows your cigars to age while protecting the wrapper.
MAINTAINING A HUMIDOR
Humidors are relatively simple to maintain. All you have to do is keep the humidor shut and periodically add distilled water to the humidifying device. Exposing a humidor to temperature extremes such as in direct sunlight or on top of an air conditioner or radiator is bad for the humidor — and your cigars, so it’s better to keep your humidor somewhere cool with a relatively constant temperature.
CIGARS ON THE GO
Cigars packaged in aluminum tubes are suitable for travel, and can help maintain humidity for a few days. Leather cigar cases are an elegant travel solution but provide no long-term conditioning for your cigars. Therefor, the ideal solution for portable cigar storage is the Travel humidor. Many travel humidors are compact enough to easily slip into your briefcase or the small bag, and help ensure that your smokes are in perfect condition for the holiday smoke you deserve.