Why Age Cigars?
stogies are like fine wines, they often get better with age. Almost
any cigar that is "HAND
ROLLED," with LONG
is more than likely a PREMIUM
CIGAR that will benefit, indeed improve,
said that, the corollary is clearly apparent: SHORT
will not benefit from additional rest in a fine humidor. Thus,
may I say quite frankly (albeit disingenuously)
that, if you smoke such drool, please click the nearest EXIT
link and move on to another site. :-)
With that minor caveat out of the way, I should also
add that, alas, even long filler cigars come in different
qualities, and as
will vary in their abilities
to enhance with aging. Cigars are plant matter and all plant
matter will alter over time,
worse. All the more reason to be concerned with how your premium
stogies are stored.
Given the high demand for cigars these days (yes, I know the"CIGAR BOOM"
has ended, but there is still a high demand for premium smokes),
most cigars do not get sufficient aging time, either in the production
aging rooms or in the retailer's humidor. Of course, you can pay
top dollar to buy "VINTAGE CIGARS",
which use tobacco that has been aged longer, or you can take some
premium non-vintage stogies and lay them down in your own box
Since most cigars enter the market
a "GREEN" state,
you should give them a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks in your humidor
to smooth out the rough edges and bring them up to par before firing
them up. This short term maturation will allow the tobacco to stabilize
levels. However, if you have more time, and sufficient room, most
from at least a year of aging in your
a more smooth, complex and satisfying smoke. Some of the best
cigars will continue to improve over many years.
Throughout the first 3 to 4 months in your humidor, the
tobacco oils and moisture will begin to migrate and distribute
a cigar, creating subtle changes in the flavor. This process
is known as "MARRYING."
This is also why it is a good idea to store the same, or similar,
cigars next to each other in a humidor for long term aging. The
marriage process will distribute oils and their associated flavors
only within a cigar, but across adjacent
cigars. If a humidor is filled with the same, or very similar
smokes, marrying will produce better
consistency of flavor. However, if you mix very different blends
of tobacco (spicy, mild, earthy, etc.) in the same box for a
long period of time, the mixing of flavors can produce nasty results.
A good reason to use the dividers that come with your humidor.
And, for the same reason, be sure not to store flavored cigars
in the same box with your non-flavored premiums.
corner joinery, Elie Bleu
Another tell-tale sign of properly aged cigars
is the appearance of "BLOOM" (also
referred to as, "PLUME").
These special sticks would be quite nice to smoke on the patio
of your favorite smoke spot with the cool breeze of outdoor
fans and your favorite beverage. This appears as a light whitish
gray powder that is left from the cigar's essential oils drying
on its surface, and is considered a very
good sign that the proper aging is taking place. Not all cigars
develop bloom, but those that are heavy in oils almost always do
over time. Cigars exhibiting bloom are typically exceptional in
Some people say that the structure of a cigar will also affect
it's suitability for aging. A thicker (larger RING
variety of tobacco leaves and, thus, a potentially more COMPLEX flavor.
However, I think that the character of the tobacco is more telling.
Tobaccos grown in wonderfully rich soil, with the perfect mix of
sun and water will have a strength and an innate complexity that
will benefit from aging. It is much the same with wines. The
the grape yield, the better is the potential for aging. Some vintages
of grapes, will yield a more complex wine with the potential to
last for many years and improve with age. There are many cigars
that will consistently improve over decades, while other cigars
will have a limit to which they can continue
What's in a Box?
Hinged lid, Elie
Most good humidors come in a box layout with a hinged lid (see
photo at right). These types are essentially a box inside a box.
The outer box is
to provide an attractive
well as to serve as a buffer to prevent rapid
and drastic TEMPERATURE and HUMIDITY changes.
The outer construction can be made
types of woods; from common woods like Cherry, Walnut and Mahogany,
to more exotic types like African ebony, Zebrawood and
Cocobolo, and many more. The type of wood and the quality of construction
will determine the final cost of the humidor in the marketplace.
A high price does not necessarily mean that a humidor is a good
real test is its ability to maintain a CONSTANT
INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT (that's HOMEOSTASIS,
for you biology buffs).
The inner box is
traditionally made from Spanish cedar, a slightly aromatic
wood with properties that make it ideally suited as a humidor
liner. Spanish cedar is moderately porous and has the ability to
excess moisture and release that moisture as needed to keep humidity
levels constant. Some say that the aroma of Spanish cedar is
offensive to TOBACCO
BEETLES, though I have never confirmed
this by asking one. ;-) I do know that the cedar imparts a natural
aroma to the box and cigars.
Outer box seam
and lock, Daniel Marshall
be air tight, which would increase sweating or stagnation. Anyone
who has accidentally left their trailer refrigerator closed while
in storage will relate. For you non-Home-Improvement-types, I can
tell you that if you have left a little moisture in a refrigerator
and then closed it up for the winter (no electricity, thus no air
or cooling), by the time you open it up again
for summer travels you will have a growth of fungus or MOLD that
will ingest small children. Anyway, I think the construction of
the inner box is a more important consideration
not a box is air-tight. A humidor built
Spanish cedar inner box, that has a quality humidifier, will
self-adjust the humidity. Besides, all boxes will need to be
opened periodically to
the humidity and temperature (not to mention extract a stogie
for consumption) from time to time.
A quality humidor should have precision JOINERY including tight-fitting,
squared corners, properly installed hinges
and a snug-fitting lid that fits evenly against
the lower box without warping or presenting
gaps in the seam where humidity might be lost (see photo at left).
Humidity and Temperature
Cigars are plant products and, thus, need moisture if they are
to stay smokable and age properly. A
cigar that is dry smokes too HOT, too fast and unevenly. On the
other hand, a cigar that is too moist will be hard to puff, difficult
to keep lit, will promote the formation of mold and/or
the wrapper will swell and split open.
The HUMIDIFIER is
at optimum values. Usually that means a safe range between
65 and 72 percent. Higher or lower humidity can wreak havoc on
mold/rot or dry, brittle cigars, respectively. Though keeping
the humidity within the above-mentioned range is important, it
is best to maintain a constant humidity, rather than having the
swing back and forth between the extremes of 65 and 72 percent.
The actual humidity is a matter of personal preference, some
like their smokes a bit drier or wetter, whatever you choose,
try to keep humidity as consistent as possible and within the
cassette with adjustable vents
The humidifier may
be the most important piece of equipment for the ultimate
health and longevity
The original MECHANICAL
(PASSIVE) HUMIDIFIERS were
simple sponges placed in a plastic or sometimes metal cage.
Though sponges are still used in many humidifiers, they
are starting to be replaced by other materials and technologies.
One of these materials is humidor foam. The foam itself
is a porous, synthetic
polymer crystals. It can be treated with antibacterial processing
and, since it is able to absorb a lot of moisture and exude it
evenly, it can guarantee a uniform humidity in all parts of the
humidor. Ideally, humidor foam requires
dampening with a mixture of 50 percent WETTING
SOLUTION and 50 percent water. Use the wetting
solution about every 6 months and water every month or so. Since
the wetting solution
evaporates less than water, you need to replace water more often.
Eventually, the foam gets hard and loses
its absorbency, so it needs to be changed every year or two.
Humidor foam is placed in humidifying
cassettes, which can be adjustable or non-adjustable.
Non-adjustable humidifiers are easy to spot by their flattened form
and wide slits.
they are made of plastic, sometimes of metal, and
the moisture evaporates from them gradually, but invariably in
uniform amounts as the cassette cannot be adjusted. Adjustable
humidifiers (see photo at left) can be of different shapes and they
are made chiefly of metal.
humidor can be regulated by hand – usually by altering the
width of the slits. If they are widened, the humidity goes up;
if narrowed, it is stabilized or reduced.
There are other more portable mechanical humidifiers that use
different technologies: Humidor
Bag® uses a patented 2-way humidity
control system, while products like DryMistat and
Pillows use gel crystals to maintain humidity.
These humidifiers will last from 6 months to a year and
range in cost from .35 to $10.
(ACTIVE) HUMIDIFIERS are
mainly used for large walk-in humidors or cabinet humidors.
and can be fairly expensive. This type of humidifier works very
much like the thermostat in your home and can be very convenient.
While a thermostat controls temperature, a HYGROSTAT controls
the humidity through various sensors. This "set and forget" humidifier
can be the perfect solution for those that travel frequently
and want piece of mind when it comes to the condition of
their smokes while on the road.
The HYGROMETER is
a device used for measuring the RELATIVE HUMIDITY inside your
There are two varieties:
Analog - This is the standard type of hygrometer.
It is the least expensive and also the least reliable. The analog
with a needle, controlled by a hairspring that points to the
percentage of humidity. I've never met an analog
hygrometer that I liked, or that has worked halfway decently. In my humble
if you have a choice, don't use one.
Digital - The digital hygrometer is far more reliable,
but also a bit more expensive. It operates on a standard camera
battery and digitally reads
the humidity as well as the temperature.
This device is by no means perfect, but is still much more reliable and
convenient than analog
recommend digital hygrometers.
Since tobacco is grown in warm tropical climates, the finished
cigar does well when stored in a relatively warm, moist environment.
remain at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As with humidity, the consistency
of the temperature is very important. Try to keep your humidor
in a location that has a constant temperature of around 70 degrees.
Be sure to keep the box out of direct sunlight or too near a heating
element. If the room temperature becomes too warm, it may cause
humidity to leach out of your box, it may also lead to tobacco
rot or the
hatching of TOBACCO
If the room temperature is too cold, it may also affect the humidity
and temperature are related and you need to be concerned with both
Now that you have a sufficient amount of information about
premium stogies and the characteristics that make them
require humidification and proper storage, you are ready to think
a small, less expensive model, or a larger, more expensive type,
I would recommend that you read completely the next
section: Your First Box, which will discuss what things
you should consider when purchasing a humidor.