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89

Montecristo Platinum

How to Charge a Cigar Humidifier

byGary Korb

You've just bought a humidor for your cigars. Inside the box you'll usually find a humidifier, a hygrometer, and a divider.  Since I've received a number of emails from cigar smokers asking about how to charge their humidifier, I felt it was worthy of a post. First, identify what type of humidifier it is. Many cigar humidors today still come with green oasis foam, while some manufacturers now include crystal-based units. Also note the size of the humidifier, because some humidors include humidifiers that are not adequate for humidifying the capacity of cigars the humidor is designed to hold.  For example, if you purchased a 100 ct. humidor, the humidifier may only be able to handle 50 cigars.  If this is the case, you can still use it, but if it's not doing the job you should either add a second humidifier or use some Bòveda 69% packs.* Otherwise, scrap the factory unit and purchase a crystal-based model designed for your box's capacity. Next, mount the humidifier under the center of the lid. For the purposes of this post we'll assume you have a solid top humidor. (If you have a glass top humidor, you'll have to mount it elsewhere, but that's a topic for another post.)   Once it's in position, remove the humidifier from its mount. If you have a green foam model, make sure you have some 50/50 polyglycol charging solution. You'll also need distilled water - NEVER use tap or spring water.  Place the humidifier in a shallow container. In a measuring cup, mix a solution using two parts charging solution and one part distilled water. This will ensure the foam gets enough polyglycol to prevent mold and keep a steady humidity level, without clogging the pores, which can happen over time if 50/50 is used exclusively. Now, pour the solution over the humidifier until it is completely submerged and let it sit for 15 minutes. This will give it time to fully absorb as much liquid as it can hold. It will be noticeably heavier, when you remove it. Drain-off any excess water and when the humidifier ceases to leak when held facing down, place it back on its mount. For crystal-based humidifiers, using DISTILLED WATER ONLY, fill the unit until the water touches the screen. You don't need 50/50 charging solution because the crystals are made of polyglycol and will fatten-up as they absorb the distilled water.  After 15-20 minutes the crystals will form a solid, gel-like substance. Make sure no excess water is dripping and return the humidifier to its mount. Voila! You're done. [CA] * Note: The Bòveda formula is 1 pack for every 25 cigars.
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Tubo or Not Tubo?

byGary Korb

What advantages are there, if any, to cigars presented in tubos. Recently, I received an email from a reader asking me how long cigars that come in glass tubos will stay fresh without a humidor. The short answer: About as long as cigars packaged in cello or "cabinet" style (no cello).   Cigars en tubo, as the Spanish say it, tend to cost a little more, but they have their advantages. Like cellos, cigar tubes are used primarily for protecting cigars from the elements, but they also make your cigars easier to carry. Tubos generally come in two varieties: glass and aluminum. The obvious differences: glass tubes allow you to see the cigar you're buying, whereas metal tubes do not. Glass tubes are often sealed with a cork or similar type plug, whereas metal tubes use a screw-on cap, though in some cases one end will slide into the other. Glass tubes are more likely to break if dropped, whereas metal tubes will, at worst, dent. Both types of tubos will sometimes have a Spanish cedar lining, which helps keep the cigars fresh and maintain their factory aging room aroma. As far as freshness is concerned, cigars in glass tubes will remain fresh indefinitely as long as 1) the cigar was fresh when placed in the tube, and 2) that your humidor is properly humidified. Some cigar smokers have the impression that a cigar will dry out if left in its tube. It sounds reasonable, but think about it. There are thousands of cigar boxes with glass tubed cigars sitting in factories, warehouses, and cigar stores for months, even years at a time, and just like their celloed cousins, they remain in excellent health. As for metal tubos, they're lighter, thinner, and offer essentially the same amount of protection against the elements. Davidoff Cigars have a very cool metal tube they use for many of their cigars. It's cedar lined, and in lieu of a cap, the top section of the tube slides over the bottom section. Both ends also have a "window" that, when lined-up, exposes the cedar liner and allows air to flow into the tube while the cigar is in your humidor. For traveling purposes, just twist the tubo to cover the opening and you're set. Finally, let's talk storage. If you want your cigars to get the full humidification treatment, simply remove them from their tubes and save the tubo for carrying. A practical method for storing tubed cigars involves removing the cap (or plug) and leaving the cigar in the tube. In this case you get the best of both worlds: more air flow into the tube, while protecting the cigar's wrapper from being damaged when rummaging through your stash. Agree? Disagree? Have a better idea? Please leave a comment. 
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Cigar Storage Options from Soup to Nuts

byBryan Glynn

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of cigar smokers - occasional dabbler, hobbyist, serious enthusiast, or full-out cigar nut, you need a place to store your stogies. In "Cigar Storage Options, from Soup to Nuts," Bryan Glynn reports on the wealth of storage options available to today's cigar smoker, ranging from small makeshift solutions to high-end furniture pieces. Cigar storage is a topic that comes up at different points in your smoking adventure. Not all new smokers realize the need to properly regulate temperature and humidity levels, often unknowingly creating poor smoking experiences and potentially turning them off to the hobby. Even seasoned cigar smokers often need to re-evaluate their solutions due to an ever-increasing collection and lack of space. Serious hobbyists and collectors often treat storage as a large investment in fine furniture. No matter where you may fall in the spectrum at any given moment, the options to properly store your cigars have never been greater! Starting from scratch, the new smoker may select a single or handful of cigars at a local store, expecting to keep them in a drawer at home indefinitely. Of course, not everyone is going to smoke cigars regularly, so spending dozens or hundreds of dollars for the bare essentials doesn't always make sense. In this case, a couple easy and fairly safe solutions come in the form of kitchen storage. A gallon Zip-Lock bag or small Tupperware container make fairly air-tight containers, allowing for a decent environment for up to a handful of smokes. For humidification, look no further than your local shop for a water-pillow, Boveda pack, or even small jar of gel. I would suggest removing most of the gel from the jar if you go that route, but all should provide good enough humidification for a small stash at least short-term - enough to decide if you want to get in to cigars more and buy a humidor. Be sure to keep any of these solutions in a cool and dark place, as close to 70 deg as possible. Desktop humidors come in all shapes, sizes and sources. Most you find, whether online or at your local shop, are made in China - it's just the way it is. Luckily, overall quality these days is very good, so you can shop by features and aesthetics alone. The only rule of thumb is to buy twice as large as you think you need, especially since most product descriptions woefully overestimate the storage capacity. Humidification beads are a very reliable and easy source of humidification to use in these small units, and can be found online through several sources. They typically come in 65% or 70% RH, and will maintain your small humidor effortlessly. A hygrometer is also needed, and can be sourced easily for just a few bucks on eBay or a retailer of your choice. Both digital and analog models are available. Those of us with large collections often outgrow desktop or shelf units, and need a method for storing boxes of cigars. You have the option of moving up to a large cabinet type humidor, although costs go up exponentially at this point, not only because the units cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, but because they need active electronic humidification systems, adding hundreds more to your budget. On the plus side, they do work and display your collection beautifully! For an alternative that is very inexpensive, works 100% as well as the best cabinets, and is infinitely expandable, look into a "coolerdor." This is a plastic thermal cooler which has been cleaned and emptied for use as a sealed container. The same rules for auxiliary equipment apply, but now you are down to dozens of dollars for the unit, rather than thousands. If you do not use air conditioning in your home then your best storage option may be to make a "wineador." This is similar to the coolerdor, but uses a converted wine refrigerator. These units are not like the traditional mini-fridge in that they neither chill to such low temps, nor remove as much moisture. Using a good electronic humidifier in such a unit provides a small, but effective solution for keeping your cigars resting comfortably, even in hotter climates. At the high end of the spectrum comes furniture-grade storage such as coffee tables with glass tops. Such units display hundreds of your favorite cigars, accessories and a few boxes, in drawers and compartments. Many such pieces provide not only great classic room looks, but also exceptional storage possibilities, and make quite the conversation piece.  If your collection includes more than a few boxes, or is of sufficient scale to warrant a small room, you might consider a pre-made or custom cabinet. Cabinets can be tailored to fit any configuration, even including built-in electrical supplies, active humidification, and remote controls. The humidification in cabinets must be what's known as active, putting out vapor on demand, to regulate the changes from the obviously large doors opening and closing. Some units will feature smaller compartments able to be accessed separately to avoid changing the air in the entire unit every time you need a cigar. The shelf and wood finish combinations are endless, but be warned that these large top-end options are budget breakers for many!
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79

90 Miles 1980

91

Kristoff GC Signature series

Storing Cigars in Tubes

byJonathan DeTore

The almighty cigar tube! Oh how we underestimate ye. Whether made from skillfully crafted aluminum or a thinly patched together tube from a recently purchased “en tubo” cigar now used to transport your cigars, you are a thing of sheer genius. It doesn’t matter if it has a few dents in it. After all, that’s its job, right? It’s supposed to take a beating beyond belief while keeping your cigar safe and fresh. Yet today, a lot of people think of the cigar tube as something unimportant or vital. In fact, many accessories are starting to fall by the wayside such as the cigar poker, the V-cutter, and the almighty cigar tube. Sure, go ahead and sully the cigar poker if you wish. After all, it’s hardly used anyway even though it can be wildly useful; and the V-cutter is another hardly used item though it is more practical than a straight cut in certain situations. But never underestimate the benefit you can gain just from the cigar tube. Okay, so it may seem I’m taking my love affair for the cigar tube a little too far, but in all fairness, it has more uses than you actually think. Many come with hidden tricks and design details to make your smoking experience on the run so much more enjoyable. But for those of us who don’t have the fanciest of cigar tubes, I’m going to break down exactly why these devices are so useful, starting of course with the simple benefit of protecting your cigar. Nothing is better for keeping your cigar safe than the perfect tube. The only thing you have to worry about is picking the right tube for your cigar. Most tubes can only fit up to a Toro sized cigar with a ring size no bigger than 54, so if you’re a fan of Churchills, make sure you find a tube that can fit that size. Okay, so I know you probably got bored reading the last paragraph and to be honest, I got bored writing it, but for the sake of covering every angle of the cigar tube, I had to include it. Here’s a tip though that I bet you didn’t think of when it comes to keeping a cigar tube around for the home: use it to acclimate your cigars to an environment. As a rule of thumb, when taking a cigar from your room-temperature humidor to a hotter or colder environment, always make sure you rest your cigar in the environment you are going to smoke in. This way the cigar adjusts accordingly so it does not cause burn issues or cracking from rapid expansion and contraction. So now you’re asking me what a cigar tube has to do with this process. Stop being impatient! A reader named TJ brought to light a way in which he uses his cigar tube in hot/humid areas such as the South-East and South West to help acclimate his cigars. He would always let the cigars rest, but humidity always took a death grip to his cigars which would just cause burn issues. Being the genius he is, he put his cigar in his cigar tube and left it outside where he was going to smoke. The cigar tube effectively allowed the cigar to adjust to the outside temperatures, but kept all the humidity out. When he went to light his cigar, it burned straight as a razor and retained a humidity level as if it was just taken out of the humidor. TJ, thank you for bringing this tip to our attention as this is an awesome way to use an accessory in an unconventional way to benefit everyone’s enjoyment of cigars. You never know what accessories you can “hack” to help a smoker enjoy his cigar experience. Cigar tubes are no different. Many see the cigar tube as just something to carry cigars in, but with a little ingenuity and a little know-how, you can use your cigar tube in different ways to improve the quality of your smoke. 
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Cigar Storage - Dry Boxing, Resting, and Aging

byLou Tenney

Much to the chagrin of cigar newbies everywhere, even experienced cigar smokers can be imprecise with cigar terms. With that said, I'm going to define and expound upon three common cigar storage modalities: dry boxing, resting, and aging. By now you may be familiar with the old "70/70 rule," which some people even quote as "72/72." It is supposed to represent the optimum environment for cigars in degrees Fahrenheit and ambient Rh (relative humidity) expressed as a percentage. This rule figures heavily into cigar storage, whether short- or long-term, as well as making cigar purchases. Let's start with the most common of the three practices, "resting." This is essentially the practice of not smoking a cigar ROTT, i.e. right-off-the-truck, opting instead to let the cigars "rest" in your humidor for a week or more. Resting is a good idea when smoking cigars that have been recently delivered from an online cigar retailer. Many such retailers will store their cigars at the highest acceptable humidity, so as to maintain the cigars' freshness during transit. Some brick-and-mortar retail tobacconists may also store their cigars at a similarly high humidity, because it is much easier to let a cigar "dry out," so to speak, than to "re-humidify" it. By allowing a cigar's moisture content to even out, you are preventing the burn issues associated with over- or uneven-humidification. Dry Boxing, on the other hand, is the practice of shifting one or more cigars from regular storage to drier storage, usually an empty cigar box that's outside of the humidor. This practice is particularly useful if you store all your cigars at high humidity. It also comes in handy if you're planning on smoking a full-bodied stink bomb, which tends to have a large amount of oil in the leaves, and therefore performs better with lower moisture content. The last of these, aging, is also the least common. Aging is the practice of allowing your cigars to slumber for a year or more, typically in a lower-temperature, lower-humidity environment. The plain fact is that most cigars won't actually benefit from aging: it won't turn a cheap drugstore cigar into a $10 smoke, nor will it improve the flavor of a mild cigar. Instead, like wine, it takes a high-quality, fuller-bodied cigar to really see any benefit from long-term aging. Even then, you must ask the question: are you willing to sacrifice strength for nuance? Because that's the best-case scenario.
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91

J Fuego Origen

When Will Cigars Go Stale?

byJonathan DeTore

In my time in the customer service department I would frequently speak with wives or friends of cigar smokers trying to find a birthday, wedding, or Christmas gift for their loved one. Often they would ask how long cigars can last before they go stale. Even some regular cigar smokers would ask this every once in a while, and it always left me a little speechless when a cigar smoker asked me. You would think someone who picked up cigars as a hobby would know that cigars actually never really go “stale.” Let me explain… The only way cigars go stale is when they are stored improperly. If a cigar dries out, it will start losing its nicotine content and flavor in about 2 months. Even if you try to re-humidify it, which would take forever, it’s a lost cause. I had a customer say he found a box from 3 years ago that he had simply forgotten to put in his humidor. He asked me if they would still be good to smoke if there was any way to salvage them. Sadly, the answer was an emphatic no. However, if properly stored, a cigar can last decades and still be ready to light and enjoy. Keep in mind that even though a cigar can last a long time in proper storage, the flavor profile of the cigar will change, mostly for the better. Maduros tend to get smoother, Connecticut wraps get a little more mellow and velvety, and Ligero starts to lose its power after about 1-2 years, turning from a powerhouse into a flavorful medium-full bodied smoke. A great example is when I visited Nat Sherman in NYC one afternoon. They showed me around the member’s only section, which featured a humidor that looked more like a dresser. Inside were all pre-embargo Cuban cigars gifted to Nat Sherman by the Fuente family after they fled Cuba. Hundreds of Cuban cigars, just sitting there behind glass, off limits to the public with only about 3 smoked. All were kept in pristine condition. Even though the cigars were over 50 years old they were all in perfect smoking condition, looking as though they were rolled just last week. In fact, most of the cigars that you buy usually are aged in the factory for a minimum of 60 days, if not a few years, according to the manufacturer's specifications. They then age even further while sitting in the warehouse of the retailer you are purchasing from. Sometimes boxes can sit for 2-3 years on top of a manufacturers aging period before they ship to your house. So next time you think your cigars have gotten stale because they sat in your humidor too long, they probably got better.
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Should I Remove Cellophane from Cigars?

byLou Tenney

One of the most frequently asked questions about cigars and cigar storage is whether to remove the cellophane wrappers before placing them into the humidor. It is a question which draws surprisingly impassioned opinions from both sides of the fence. So what is the correct answer? Both, actually. Proponents of removing the cellophane wrappers correctly claim that the cigars are able to breathe better, thus concentrating the benefits of home aging cigars into a shorter timeframe. An additional benefit, they argue, is that removing cellophane wrappers promotes the development of plume, the crystallized tobacco oils that can form on the wrappers of cigars which age extensively and remain untouched. While plume doesn't actually improve a cigar, it is definitely a coveted hallmark of a well-aged cigar. Cellophane, often confused with plastic, is made of a plant material called cellulose. For this reason, proponents of leaving the cellophane wrappers on the cigars correctly counter that cellophane is breathable, so that any aging gains are soon equalized, especially if the cigars are to be aged over a long period of time. Perhaps more importantly, leaving the cellophane wrappers intact also protects the wrappers from suffering minor damage – think tears, punctures, and other minor trauma, especially on more delicate wrappers like Connecticut Shade or Cameroon – as well as acting as a first layer of defense against tobacco beetles or mold. So what's the right thing to do? As with many aspects of collecting, storing, and smoking cigars, it's a matter of personal preference. There's an undeniable tactile benefit to being able to smell and touch the wrappers you just won't get otherwise. If you're the type to keep a manifest of all cigars currently in inventory, rotate your collection faithfully, and don't have any pilfering family members or neighbors, then by all means, un-cello your cigars. If, on the other hand, you are more casual about it, or smoke cigars as you get them without regard for how long they've been aging, or you just don't like the hassle of removing 20 cello wrappers every time you pick up a box or a bundle, then don't. Interestingly, we've had customers opt for the best of both worlds by cutting off the excess cellophane from the end, allowing for both an exposed foot (which accounts for most of the air and moisture exchange in a cigar) AND a protected wrapper.
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Is it Plume or Mold?

byLou Tenney

Have you ever bought or been given a cigar covered with plume? Are you sure it wasn't mold? CigarAdvisor Executive Editor Lou Tenney recounts an experience at his local tobacconist in which the shop employee tried to pass off moldy cigars as cigars covered in plume.  Small-Town PA, Summer 2004 Slumped idly over the cash register, George looked less like a tobacconist, and more like a slack-jawed Shar-Pei. I negotiated my way out of the crowded humidor and carefully fanned out a selection of cigars on the counter. Aloof as ever, he acknowledged them with an almost-imperceptible head nod. "Hey, George." The words were barely audible above the din; dozens of men stood talking and laughing loudly, each holding a lit cigar in one hand and a plastic beer cup in the other. A dense haze swirled lazily about, spilling out of the shop's front door and into the street. Funny, how a cigar event can transform an unassuming smoke shop into a raging kegger for every cigar smoker within 50 miles. "Hey Lou. Did you find everything OK?" The question was rhetorical, the sort of congenial formality that functions just above punctuation. Of course I found everything OK, George. I'm here two nights a week, and the humidor is the size of a walk-in closet. "Yeah, I guess I'll just take these. Is this enough to get the free Robustos?" "Yeah, you get two," he said, sliding my cigars into a clear bag. "I have Corojo, Maduro, and Sumatra," he said, referring to each cigar by its wrapper leaf. "Whad'ya want?" "I'll take two Sumatras." The Corojo and Maduro were good, but the Sumatra – well, the Sumatra was something really special: sweet and a little strong, but not too heavy. George fumbled beneath the counter and produced a bundle of cigars. He extracted two and reached for the bag. "Actually, I'm gonna smoke one. You can put the other in the bag." He retrieved one of the cigars with his sausage-like fingers and handed it to me. Reaching for the tethered "house cutter," my enthusiasm came crashing down like a Soviet satellite. "What the hell is this?" I asked, pointing at the white patches haphazardly covering the reddish wrapper. "Does this cigar have psoriasis?" George chuckled condescendingly. "What do you mean? You've never seen bloom before?" "Bloom?" I asked, indignantly. "Bro, this cigar looks like it needs some lotion." "Yeah – when stronger cigars are well-aged, the oils crystallize and rise to the surface of the wrapper leaf. I should charge you more!" he laughed. "Just brush it off and smoke it." "Dude, I know what bloom is," I protested. "It's also called plume, but this ain't it. Look at it!" I insisted, shoving the cigar in his face. "This stick is fuzzier than a hatched chick. I'm already vaccinated against polio, but thanks anyway." George's smug grin began to fade. "SHH!" he hushed, scanning the room, his finger in front of his mouth. "What, you think it's mold?" he quietly demanded, incensed by the suggestion. "Are you kidding me? You mean you work in a cigar shop and can't tell the difference? Let me see that bundle." George surrendered the bundle. Predictably, half of the cigars were covered in patches of white to off-white fuzz. I picked out an especially egregious offender. "See this?" I asked, wiping at one of the splotches. "This is mold. Look how it stains the wrapper. It's even on my finger! Plume would just wipe away cleanly." Unmoved, George met the explanation with a vacant stare. "Besides, you just got these in for the event, right?" I added. "Yeah, so?" he answered skeptically. "So? Plume develops over months or years of untouched aging. When cigars are handled, any nascent plume is destroyed. Even under the most ideal conditions, these cigars are too young to have developed plume." "But I just smoked one," he retorted, "and it was delicious. Bloom on a cigar has an unmistakable taste." "Then you must like the taste of mold, because plume doesn't affect the taste. It's just a visual indicator of a well-aged cigar. Sure, the cigar would have the mellow evenness of extensive aging, but an otherwise-identical cigar without plume would taste exactly the same." "Bullshit, you don't know what you're talking about." "Yeah? Grab that magnifying glass there and get ready to go to school, Georgie Boy." I fixed the lens just above an especially well-developed colony of mold. "See, look at this spot. Does that look like crystals to you?" "Uh..." "For god's sake, look closer. This colony practically has hi-rise buildings. See how it looks like skinny little stalks with round structures on top of them? Those are the spores. Mold is a living thing – a fungus, actually. This mold is white, but it can be gray, green, yellowish – even blue." "Hmm," George grunted," noting the line forming behind me. "Alright, fine. Here are two new ones. I guess I'll give this bundle back to the manufacturer." Atta' boy, George. Passing out moldy cigars, even unintentionally, is just bad form. I thanked him, grabbed a beer and joined my friends, where we discussed the mold question at length. Turns out they had similar misconceptions about mold and plume/bloom. Given recommended ideals for proper humidity (≤ 70% RH) and temperature (≤ 70° F), we store our cigars on a perilous razor's edge. The next time you find yourself in a shop or just perusing your own collection, take a careful look at your cigars. Mold can spread quickly, and if unchecked, could ruin an entire collection. Maintaining your humidor properly and spot checking your cigars goes a long way toward protecting you. Bottom line, it's nice to do business with companies you can trust, but in the end, it always pays to be an educated consumer. 
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Saving Dry Cigars

byGary Korb

One of the most horrific experiences is discovering that your cigars are dried-out. Lest we not forget that keeping your cigars at the proper temperature and humidity will keep them fresh and supple, should your cigars appear to be dry, there is a solution. However, the state of dryness you find them in will determine if they can be revived or not.  If the cigars are hard, like kindling, you may as well move them to the woodpile. However, if there's even a hint of moisture left in them, they may be salvageable. The best way to test this is to gently pinch the cigar at the foot. If it crumbles or cracks you've got trouble.  Much of the flavor in a cigar comes from the oils in the tobacco. When these oils are allowed to evaporate, any other moisture in the cigar will go with it. Even if you are able to revive the cigars in question, they may lose some or all of their natural bouquet, so, you've been warned. Re-hydrating cigars takes patience, so be prepared to wait a while before you can smoke them again. In some cases, this can take months. Ideally, you want to allow a slow absorption of moisture.  What to do Place the dry cigars in a spare humidor or other tightly-sealed container with an appropriately-sized humidifier that is only about 25% charged. It helps to have a well-calibrated digital hygrometer/thermometer in there as well, so you can see how much relative humidity (RH) and temperature your cigars are getting. Start by placing the cigars as far away from the humidifier as possible; then move them a little closer to the device about every 3 to 5 days. I also suggest you use a clear, crystal-based humidifier. Not only do they produce a more consistent humidity, but you can actually see how much water has dissipated. Check the humidifier every few days until it's almost dried-out. If so, move on to the next step. Add distilled water to the humidifier - about 1/3 to 1/2 full - and let the cigars rest for another week or two. Once they feel like they're coming back a little, fully refill the humidifier and let your cigars continue to rest until they are re-humidified to your satisfaction. At each stage, always remember to place the cigars away from the humidifier and move them closer each time you refill it. Rotating them every few days will help, too. If your cigars still haven't returned to "normal" at this point, at least you can say you tried. 
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How to Build a Coolerdor

byGary Korb

What is a humidor? Breaking it down to its most basic components, it's a humidified box or cabinet designed to keep premium handmade cigars fresh for an indefinite period of time. Of course, there are humidors and there are humidors. When you envision a humidor, you probably think of the traditional wooden box with Spanish cedar walls, a humidifier of some sort, and a hygrometer. Moreover, a traditional humidor can run anywhere from $49.95 to $4,995.00. There's also another alternative: the "Coolerdor." It's not as pretty as your traditional humidor, but it does a great job of keeping your cigars fresh for a fraction of the price of even the cheapest humidor, which you wouldn't want to buy anyway. Though I can't say when the first coolerdor was made, I can tell you that there are thousands of them being used by cigar smokers, maybe tens of thousands, for any number of reasons: from the low cost of making one, to a reliable unit that can sustain your overstock cigars. So, let's get into how to make a coolerdor. As you would before buying any humidor, you have to decide how much room you'll need to hold your cigars. You should also take into account if you'll be storing loose (or single) cigars, boxed cigars, or a combination of the two. The term "coolerdor" speaks to a humidor made from a beer cooler, but you can also use a plastic storage bin (a.k.a. a "Tupperdor"). A beer cooler offers a better seal and insulation, but a storage bin will do the job just as well. Here's what you'll need: A large beer cooler or plastic storage bin/tub. A humidifier designed to humidify about 250 cigars (preferably a crystal-based model). A digital hygrometer to keep tabs on your temperature and humidity. A calibration kit to ensure the hygrometer is accurate. Distilled water for filling and refilling the humidifier. Optional: Empty Spanish cedar cigar boxes for holding single cigars (with or without a lid), or Spanish cedar strips (in case you want to line the interior of your 'dor like a traditional cigar humidor.) Once you have all the parts, you set up your coolerdor pretty much as you would a traditional humidor. Calibrate the hygrometer with a good calibration kit (I recommend Boveda.) This will take up to 6 hours, so do that first. Completely fill the humidifier with distilled water and make sure all of the water has been absorbed. Affix the humidifier in the center of the 'dor's lid. (Note that depending on the size of your coolerdor you may need more than one humidifier.) Place the hygrometer in the spot of your choosing: a corner under the lid, one of the walls of the box, on the bottom, or on top of one of the cigar boxes, but not too close to the humidifier. Place your cigar boxes, sealed, open, or closed in the 'dor, put on the lid, and you're done. (Hint: After adding your cigars, try moving it around every few days and take readings before you decide where you want it to be permanently situated.) Check the humidifier and hygrometer regularly, and recharge your humidifier as needed. One advantage to making a coolerdor is that no pre-seasoning is required, which can take days with a traditional humidor. You can also store your cigars in their factory boxes, creating a mini-warehouse of sorts for your stash. This also helps keep the cigars insulated. As a traditionalist, I keep my loose cigars in traditional, wooden, cedar-lined humidors. Extra boxes are placed in my coolerdor and eventually moved to one of my humidors as room allows. Come to think of it, the cigars I keep in the coolerdor are probably just as fresh, if not more so than the cigars I keep in my humidors. If I had known about making my coolerdor sooner, I would only need one humidor instead of five! 
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86

Partagas

86

Punch

Resting Your Cigars After Delivery

byGary Korb

By Gary Korb Because most cigar smokers buy cigars online, they have to wait for them to arrive. As a result, I'm often asked how long cigars should be allowed to rest in the humidor before smoking them. Actually, the cigars should be ready to smoke right out of the box - the shipping box that is. After all, most well-made cigars are ready to smoke right out of their factory boxes. But whether they're purchased online or at your local cigar store, premium handmade cigars tend to smoke better after being allowed to "settle" in your home cigar humidor anywhere from a few days to a few weeks... Consider this: The cigars get some resting time while they're on the truck, plus, the packing materials help insulate the order, which should also help keep the cigars fresh whether they be in a factory box, a bundle or a sampler. Of course, the conditions the plane and/or the truck is exposed to en route such as extreme heat, cold, or dampness, could possibly affect them in some way. That said, if the shipper packs the cigars properly, regardless of the conditions in the time it takes to get from the store to your house, they should arrive in prime condition. Other factors include the condition of the cigars when they arrived at the port of entry, as well as the conditions of the retailer's warehouse. If you live in the same state as the retailer, or a neighboring state, it's a pretty safe bet that the cigars will arrive within a day or two at the most by UPS, FedEx, et. al. If they go via USPS, add at least another day. If you live on the opposite coast of the supplier, it will usually take anywhere from five days to a week depending on the day they ship. Some cigar smokers are willing to pay extra for two-day or overnight shipping to keep their orders from getting too much travel time. The decision is up to you, but as noted above, if the cigars are packed well, they will survive up to two weeks with little or no effect - and that's a pretty safe estimate.Regardless of how long it takes the package to get to you, unless you're really Jones'n for a cigar the moment the box hits your doorstep, I've found that cigars tend to smoke and burn much better when given at least a week to rest after leaving the warehouse, even if the vendor's warehouse or humidor is kept at optimum conditions. Though it's hard to resist smoking that first one out of the box, my advice is make sure your cigar supply hasn't dwindled down to nada before the new smokes get to you. Always try to keep several days worth of cigars on-hand so you can give your new order at least a little time to rest. I know that some readers will take umbrage at this advice, but patience generally pays-off at a much higher interest rate. I've also discovered that as each week passes, the cigars taste better, too. Try it yourself by smoking a cigar right out of the box, then smoking one a week later, then two weeks later, etc., and you'll see, or better yet, taste. (_{GK]__[[[~
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The humidor in the humidor quandry

byGary Korb

Q. I recently purchased an end table cabinet humidor. I use a Cigar Oasis XL Plus to humidify it. My question is, can I store smaller 25-count humidors inside the cabinet humidor? And if I can, do I need to put a humidor device in each humidor, or will the humidity from the cigar Oasis do the trick for everything. So far I've asked 10 people and got 10 different answers...HELP.Thanks,John P. A. Here's how I see it: If the larger cabinet case is properly humidified, technically its a mini humidified warehouse, simlar to the way the major big retailers store their cigars. All things being equal, you should be able to put a factory-sealed box of cigars in there with no problem. Similarly, you could put a small humidor in there because the Oasis is working all the time just like a warehouse humidifying system. Since wood is porous, and the humidor itself is not hermetically sealed, air still gets in. There's also no harm in keeping the humidifier in the smaller humidor, and chances are you may not even need to recharge it. The first cigar humidor I ever bought eventually became leaky a couple of years ago. It's one of the top brands, but not one of their top models. (It was all I could afford at the time.) I couldn't keep it in the office any longer, so I moved it to a shelf in our warehouse without a humidifier, and all the cigars are fine. It's now my office "overflow" humidor. I would also check the cigars every couple days, which you should do anyway. Also check the hygrometers in the smaller humidors. They should be reasonably consistent to the reading on the Oasis unit. If you think the cigars are drying out, remove them from their humidor(s) and place them loose in the cabinet. Alternatively, you could recharge the humidifiers in the smaller humidors, or find a way to prop the lid up to allow more airflow. If they become too moist, then I would remove the humidifiers from the smaller humidors. Again, if the larger humidor is working properly you should be fine. I've been in several homes where I've seen humidors inside tall cabinet humidors Regardless of how any devoted cigar smoker keeps their cigars, a combination of careful experimentation and experience usually results in the best solution. Remember that keeping the proper "balance" of temperature and humidity is as much on you as it is on your devices.
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Why you should never put an unfinished cigar back in the humidor

byGary Korb

Q. What can I do if someone put a partially smoked cigar in my humidor? It has been open for a couple weeks and I can still smell the aroma of a burnt cigar. - Jeff P. A. Great question. First, I would have the kneecaps broken of the "someone" in question. (Just kidding!)  Seriously, you might want to try lightly sanding down the entire inside of the box - from top to bottom - with a very fine grit sandpaper. If the walls are removable, so much the better, and easier. The sanding will expose a fresh layer of cedar, and should expel the ashy odor. Be sure to clean all surfaces of dust. You can use a little hobby vacuum or the long, flat "corners" extension that attaches to the hose of your household vacuum. I would then re-prep the box, which it probably needs by now from being open so long. Even if the box still has some trace of burnt tobacco odor, hopefully it will be so subtle that once the box is refilled with cigars, the odor of the fresh tobaccos will eventually seep into the walls, and you should be fine. I would also recommend the Boveda One-Step Seasoning Kit for the humidor and the Boveda One-Step Calibration Kit for your hygrometer. These products are very inexpensive and may help you get back on track more easily. Finally, next time, if that "someone" wants to resume smoking their unfinished cigar at a later time, tell them to use a Cigar Savor. (Note: The photo and "more info" links do not work. Please use the Cigar Savor link in the above sentence.)
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94

Kristoff Maduro

87

90 Miles Reserva Selecta

Cigar humidor overflow

byGary Korb

Q. I have a 50 cigar humidor but I can fit a lot more than 50 cigars in it. What would be the possible downside of storing more than 50 cigars in the humidor for a short period of time, if there is one?- Matt in Bethel, CT A. First of all, it's not unusual to be able to fit more cigars in your humidor than its advertised capacity. According to one cigar humidor manufacturer I spoke to, the capacity is generally determined by how many Churchill cigars (roughly 7" x 50) will fit in the box. Therefore, if you have a mix of shapes & sizes, your cigar humidor will usually hold more stock. Secondly, there is no real downside to "overstocking" your cigar humidor unless:1. You find it hard to close the box.2. The cigars are so close to your humidifier they're blocking the moisture from getting through the box. (Morevoer, those cigars may also absorb more moisture, which will affect their performance.)3. The cigars are so tightly packed they're affecting proper air flow inside the humidor.
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Anatomy of a Cigar Humidor

byGary Korb

(or How to Turn A Cheap Humidor Into a Cigar Sanctuary) By Robustojoe The trouble with cigar humidors…To some avid cigar smokers, cigar humidors can multiply like rabbits.  When I first started smoking cigars I had one lonely box on a desk, and before I knew it, I had acquired more humidors than I had places to put them.  But that's a natural evolution for a cigar-lover, especially one who follows ratings and recommendations of online cigar reviews (and is always buying new cigars faster than can be consumed). When we first get started with the cigar obsession, many of us buy the least expensive humidor we can find.  After all, we start with only a handful of cigars, often recommended by a cigar store clerk who also directs us to a humidor in which to keep them.  He tells us about conditioning the box and instructs us to put that 50/50 solution in the black rectangular sponge thing.  But what he doesn't tell us is that the humidor is barely suited to protect and condition our cigars.  The problems are not obvious because even inferior humidors can look beautiful.  That's how the manufacturers get us to buy them.  Conversely, expensive humidors can have the same deficiencies as that of the cheaper ones. So what makes a humidor effective?There are two major differences between an inferior humidor and a "real" humidor.  (Real being one designed to adequately protect your cigars).  One is wall thickness and the other being a lining of Spanish cedar planks rather than a thin veneer.  It stands to reason that the thicker the wall, the more moisture retention the humidor will have, and this is certainly true.  But the addition of cedar planks will not only add more wall thickness to the humidor, it will also keep the cigars further from the materials used to construct the box.  Today's humidors are often made from particleboard and not from solid wood.  (The highest quality humidors are made from solid wood but can be prohibitively expensive).  Particleboard is made from wood scraps left over from sawmills, combined with a binding agent and pressed into thick sheets.  Although the resins used to make particleboard are considered environmentally safe, it does contain formaldehyde. (I'd rather my cigars not spend years in a formaldehyde environment, but that's just me.  So the barrier of additional cedar seems desirable.)  But most importantly, particleboard is not resistant to moisture.  This translates to poor moisture containment within the humidor.  The addition of a layer of solid Spanish cedar adds insulation and helps to maintain the humidors desired internal humidity. And there is another weak link in many humidors, even some with cedar plank lining.  That is the very thin wood used at the bottom of the boxes.  I have eleven humidors and many of them have this hidden flaw. But there is hope...If you are a little handy and have a miter box, you can turn an inexpensive humidor into a "real" humidor.  By performing an EBay search for "Spanish Cedar" you can usually find people selling exactly what you need…inexpensive ¼ inch planks of kiln dried Spanish cedar.  By measuring and cutting you can create a true cedar lining and a thicker, more protective humidor bottom.  And the improvement is well worth the effort.  The additional insulation will help the humidor retain moisture and the internal humidity will be more reliable.  As a result, your cigars will be better conditioned, which in turn will age them properly. When buying a new humidor...When buying new humidors it is good to look for boxes that have these features, and price is not necessarily an indicator of quality.  Some cheap humidors have them while some expensive ones don't.  It has been my experience that when researched, it is possible to get a very good humidor at a very reasonable price and, invariably, the boxes with the thick, cedar lining will give the best performance.  Sometimes they require additional wood on the bottom but if the humidor is kept in a stable environment, and on a solid piece of furniture, the bottom modification is not that crucial. Joe's recommendation...Of all the humidors I've gotten over the years, I have two favorites. The first being my beat-up, Diamond Crown humidor that I bought used on EBay,  They have thick cedar lining on the sides and bottom, and retain moister beautifully. My other recommendation is the Treasure Dome humidor.  It's got great features, is very effective, and can store a large number of cigars - up top 250. It's huge for a desktop humidor and available for about $150, but you can get it for even less on sale. (_[RJ]__[[[~ This article was originally re-posted by permission of  Robustojoe.com on June 19, 2010.
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Finally, an end to the great 50/50 PG solution debate?

byGary Korb

What's better for using in a humidifier, distilled water or 50/50 solution? That is the question - and one that's been batted around ever since I got into the premium cigar business. I've had more questions about humidity control and humidifiers than any others, which is not surprising. After all, as avid cigar smokers, if our sticks aren't in tip-top shape, trouble follows. When I started in this business they didn't have crystal-based or bead-type humidifiers. When you bought a humidor, if it came with a humidifier it was usually a green oasis foam unit (many manufacturers today still provide them with their boxes). Most experienced cigar smokers know that using 50/50 PG in foam humidifiers will eventually clog them. Now that crystal-based humidifiers are the state-of-the-art, the question also applies to them: Do you use 50/50 PG solution or distilled water? Since the crystals are made of polyglycol, one would logically presume that distilled water is all that's necessary. But some experts, including moi, have recommended 50/50 PG for crystal-based units. My hope is that this post will shed some new light on the question, and perhaps even put an end to the debate. *   *   * It all started with an email I received from a reader who asked if PG solution was acceptable for use in an electronic humidifier, like a Cigar Oasis. Since I didn't know the answer, I went to an expert. In this case, Rob Lembke, VP of Engineering and Process Excellence for XIKAR, Inc. His answer about the use of PG in electronic humidifiers will appear in an upcoming Cigar Advisor Q&A, but here's what prompted me to address the question of using 50/50 PG in both crystal and oasis foam humidifiers: In a section of Rob's reply, he wrote: “...This is the reason we inform consumers that a 50/50 PG solution will eventually clog up a foam or crystal humidifier - the 50% PG stays behind much longer than the 50% water.  The PG ratio in your humidifier slowly goes from 50/50 to 75/25 to 100% PG.  It's full of PG that is pulling all of the humidity out of the air! (100% PG will dehumidify to nearly 0% RH).” Yours truly here has been using both Monster Venom and XIKAR brand PG solution in my crystal humidifiers. So I asked Rob: "Is this wrong? So far, all of the units seem to be responding fine, and several are over a year old. I thought PG only clogged the green foam models. If what you say is true, I may have to walk it back on some of my previous advice. Please clarify and thanks." And now the answer we've all been waiting for... “A humidifier can get clogged with excess PG regardless of what material is used to hold the solution. In fact, you could technically 'clog' a shot glass full of solution - green foam and crystals are only necessary to keep the solution from sloshing around or dripping out of a humidifier that is turned upside down. A humidifier acts 'clogged' as the PG/water ratio gets too rich in PG.I'm not familiar with the Monster Venom brand of PG so I don't know what its PG/water ratio is. I can tell you that consistent use of a 50/50 blend of PG/water will clog a humidifier over time. XIKAR PG solution is blended in a proprietary ratio to ensure the ratio of PG/water in your humidifier does not get too rich in PG. This phenomenon is one reason that you might see some other brands of humidifiers say that you can use 50/50 solution or distilled water. If 50/50 is all that you have at your disposal, you are probably better off to only refill with 50/50 every 3-4 times and use distilled water the other times.” Ta-dah! The next time I refill my crystal-based humidifiers, I'm going with distilled water. The ironic thing is, that's all I used until someone who works for a maker of crystal-based humidifiers told me to go with the solution. Please feel free to express your thoughts and experiences on this subject.
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Should you use the top tray in your cigar humidor?

byGary Korb

Q. I opted not to use the top trays in my humidors. Even though the top tray has slits, if the tray is filled up with cigars I can't see much humidity getting through, and in fact it seems as it would over humidify the cigars in the top tray. Is this reasoning correct?- James G. in Cranberry Twp, PA A. I think I pointed this out in my http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnzukygxukwhumidor set-up video. I usually opt-out of the top tray for the same reason; if the cigars are too close to the humidifier they will get more moisture. A small fan to circulate the air would help, or a gel jar of polyglycol crystals to add some extra moisture underneath, but they take up more space on the bottom. In the case of the glass top humidor I just bought, I'm using the top tray b/c the humidifier is on the bottom. One other solution that a few fellow cigar smokers have told me is to mount the humidifier under the top tray. However, you have to watch your headroom for the cigars below. Here again, you have a situation where what doesn't work for you may work for someone else. Rather than simply chucking the top tray, you should try it for a while and see how the cigars hold up.
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Storing cigars standing up

byGary Korb

Q. I have several bundles and boxes in my overflow igloodor. Some are upright to maximize storage space. Is it OK, or do all the cigars need to be laying flat?- Chris B. in North Carolina A. There's no set rule dictating that your cigars have to be lying flat. After all, bundle cigars are packaged in an upright positon, and the Rocky Patel The Edge Missile cigars (shown) are presented in upright triangular boxes. If anything, it's the nature of the cigar humidor's chest-type design that causes you to arrange them lying down. Based on your particular situation, whatever position works is fine.
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91

Romeo Y Julieta Vintage

Bóveda Humidipacks Life Cycle

byGary Korb

Q. What's the lifespan on the Bóveda 69% Humidipacks?- T. Powell in Easton, PA A. From my experience, they last for a minimum of 30 days. The best way to tell when you need to replace your Bóveda Humidipack is when the packet begins to feel like it's crystallizing. In other words, once the packet starts to feel crunchy, it's on its last legs. Here's some other useful information I found on the Bóveda website.The number of Bóveda packets to use depends on the cubic volume of the humidor—regardless of how many cigars are actually stored inside. As guide, start with two Bóveda packets for the first 50 cigars the humidor can hold, plus one additional packet for every 50 cigars the humidor can hold thereafter. For example, a 75-count humidor would need three Bóveda packets—two for the first 50 the humidor can hold and one additional packet for up to the next 50 cigars the humidor can hold.
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Long-term storage in airtight cigar travel humidors

byGary Korb

Q. With all the foam-lined travel humidors today, I have a question about the lack of air movement in these airtight cases. I have been using one for long term storage and am now concerned how long I should leave my more expensive cigars in for. Is it O.K. to use an air tight case for long term storage?- Kevin B. A. My first question would be, how are the cigars you've been storing in there now holding up? If the answer is, "good," then I'd say it's safe to store the pricy ones in there, too. As far as the best solution for long term storage goes, you'd be better off with a traditional cedar-lined humidor so the cigars can age more naturally. If that's not practical, then add a few cedar blocks to the case, but that means less room for your cigars. As many cigar smokers, including myself, do with a standard wood-crafted cigar humidor, it's good to let the box air-out by opening it up for about half an hour once a week. So again, as long as the cigars are fresh to your liking and are smoking fine, I don't think you have all that much to worry about.
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93

La Aroma De Cuba Mi Amor

90

Ashton Heritage Puro Sol

Bloomin' Havanas

byGary Korb

Q. I'm in Geneva, and went into a cigar merchant here today – got a lot of good deals. Unfortunately, the one item I was looking for was disappointing – the Bolivar Royal Coronas. They had them, but the cigars at the edge of each box had a light sprinkling of some sort of white mold on parts that touched the side of the box. The merchant just dusted them off and assured me they were OK (he actually had a paintbrush handy for just this!).  However, as they are on the expensive side (about $200/box USD) and obviously can’t be returned, I didn’t want to take the chance. I have never seen this before. Should I be concerned, or should I just go ahead and get them anyway? - Dan G. A. That "white mold" is also called "bloom." It usually appears when the humidity and temperature become excessive. The leaf starts emitting oils and a milky-looking white substance begins to form on the wrapper. He was right in telling you they’re OK. It's not all that uncommon an occurance, and generally speaking, pretty harmless. You can just as easily brush it off with your finger and you’re good to go. When you get them home, they should be fine. If not, be sure to brush them all off before you put them in your humidor.
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Is 70/70 really the "ideal" temperature/humidity mix?

byGary Korb

Although "ideal" temperature/humidity for cigars is supposedly, 70° temperature / 70% humidity, your cigars are actually better off at a cooler temperature. 62° to 65° is quite acceptable and will help prevent mold. Mixes of 62°/72%, 63°/68%, even 65°/65% are fine. If you can maintain 70° / 70% with no problems, more power to you. Just remember that the lower the temp, the higher the humidity you need to maintain proper moisture content. The higher the temp, the less humidity. In general, keeping your humidor in a relatively cool place is a good idea.
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How does aging affect a cigar's flavor?

byGary Korb

Q. I'm new to cigars, and have read a lot about how they get better with age. So, in what way does aging affect the flavor of a cigar?  Thanks.- Kenny in Shreveport, LA A. As a cigar ages, its flavors tend to mellow over time. During the aging process, the oil content in the tobaccos lessen whlie the flavors in the tobaccos continue to "marry." The longer the cigars age, the more the cigars "settle," and you'll notice a significant difference as you smoke your aged cigars over time. As cigar that might have been uncomfortably spicy out of the box, three to six months later may have lost some of its kick, and be much more enjoyable. According to one source, aging cigars in a Spanish cedar-lined humidor may add more complexity to a cigar's blend, while aging cigars in a glass or metal container may even deepen the flavors. To help prove the point that there's a big upside to long-term aging, after placing your cigars in your humidor (I remove the cellos, but it's not necessary), hold four cigars of the same brand & blend aside over the period of a year, and smoke one of them every three months. You'll notice how the cigars have mellowed and most likely improved in flavor during the course of the year. Depending on how many cigars you have, you can extend the aging period out even longer. (Some cigar enthusiasts have separate humidors just for long-aging their favorite cigars.) You might even discover that certain cigars have a "sweet spot," meaning that, by experimenting with different aging periods, you'll eventually learn what the "ideal" aging period is for them.
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Cutting a cigar's cello wrapper at the foot

byGary Korb

Q. I noticed that there is one maker out there who cuts off the cellophane wrapper right at the foot of the cigar. It seems to make sense that this would allow better humidification while still protecting the fragile wrapper. Is this true?- Paul D. in Avon, IN A. It does help a little, but remember that the cello is porous, so your cigars will stay fresh even without going through the trouble of cutting the cello at the foot. At the very least, it may help you slip the cigar out of its cello a little more easily. Although I remove the cellos on almost all of my cigars, on occasion I have cut the cello at the foot on some of my cigars that are very expensive, or have very delicate wrappers. If that works for you, go for it. Either way, your cigars will still age nicely over time.
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Aging Cigars at Home

byGary Korb

Aging is one of the most critical aspects of a cigar's overall body and flavor. All premium cigars are "aged" for about 6-8 weeks so they can dry properly and stabilize, which also affects the way they burn and draw. But by letting your new cigars "age-up" in your humidor, you can actually improve their character and flavor. Long-term aging under the "ideal 70/70" conditions (70 degrees temp/70% humidity) will, in many cases, allow the cigars to mellow, which can often help you better appreciate the "complexity" and nuances of the cigar's particular blend. Keep in mind, however, that all cigars eventually reach their "peak" and overaging them will usually not improve them after a certain point, or in some cases, their character may actually begin to deteriorate. "Vintage" cigars, whose leaves have been aged for 3-4 years or more, are expected to be consistant in construction and flavor, but some additional at-home aging can turn a great cigar into an exquisite cigar. Remember, too, that you're dealing with a 100% natural product, so if you feel you've gotten a box that appear to be a little "green" upon lighting up, let them relax in your humidor for three months and try the cigar again at one month intervals until you feel it's flavor has improved consistantly.
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Rotating cigars

byGary Korb

Q. Is it true that rotating your cigars from top to buttom ages them more evenly, or is this a myth? - Felix C., Queens N.Y. A. From my personal experience, as well as from others who've told me they do this, I believe rotating your cigars does help them age more consistently. Depending on the growth-rate of your collection, your humidor can get pretty jammed-up and the humidity can vary in spots. That's why it's also good to have some space between the cigars for airflow. I rotate my cigars from top to bottom every few months, if only to see what's on the bottom. More often than not, there's a great cigar down there that I forgot about. ;-) If your cigars feel as supple on the bottom row as the top and sides, your humidor is well-seasoned and doing a good job, so you probably needn't worry about such things. Cigar smokers who may be more obsessive about their collections are more likely to rotate them religiously. Whether or not you feel this practice is worth the time and effort, I believe there is some validity to it. The only thing I can add is, if you remove the cello from your cigars, you just need to be careful that you don't tear any wrappers while you're rotating them.
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Home aging "seconds" and bundle cigars

byGary Korb

Q. I read some where that overruns and seconds need to be aged up to 6 months before they can be a good smoke. The article said that when sticks are not picked as firsts they are bundled up immediately and sold, therefore they do not get aged. Because they are not aged they still contain ammonia or other chemicals that make for a harsh smoke. Is this true? A. Not necessarily. Each manufacturer has their own way of "processing" bundle cigars. Sure, you can find some real dog rockets in the bundle aisles, but like boxed "firsts", the tobacco in bundles and second cigars has been cured and aged prior to rolling. That said, I wouldn't doubt that many bundle cigars are not aged after rolling, as are most boxed premium handmade cigars. Even with boxed brands, regardless of price, it doesn't hurt to give them a little extra time in your home humidor. My personal experience has shown that most any cigar improves after a few months. Cigars from the better manufacturers are usually not permitted to ship until it's determined that they're "ready." In other words, you should be able to open a box of Partagas right out of the store, and they should be ready to smoke. Note that sometimes the boxes have been in the store for several months or more depending on how fast the retailer sells through his inventory. Extra-age your cigars on a per-cigar basis - that goes for all cigars. If they taste "green" and bitter, give them a few months. If they don't improve after that, they were probably no good in the first place. For many cigar smokers, bundle buying is often a hedged bet. They assume some of the cigars will be dogs (bad draw, bad burn, bad taste), but the low price makes up for the majority in the pack, which are generally OK. If you look around, there are some very good quality bundles that are very consistent in quality and flavor - and not all are seconds either. Some that come to mind are Flor de Oliva, Cusano M1, Occidental Reserve, Perdomo Remainders, Roly, and Rocky Patel Sun Grown Factory Seconds. If you stick with bundles from the better manufacturers, in most cases you probably won't have to extra-age them at all.
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91

Acid Subculture

86

Alec Bradley American Classic Blend

Storing tubos in your humidor

byGary Korb

Q. I have a humidor which holds 100 - 125 cigars. I always like to let my cigars stay in the humidor for a month or so before I smoke them since I think they mellow nicely this way. My question is regarding cellophane wrappers and tubes. I take the cigars out of the wrappers and tubes before putting them into my humidor but wondered if this is necessary or even discouraged. The Partagas Black Label Maximo Tubos definitely smoked different after being in the humidor for some time compared to right out of the tube. I'm not sure they were better. They seemed a bit drier and less flavorful. What's your recommendation? - Chris Lareau A. Just like the cello outer wrappers, tubes are primarily for protecting the cigars. When I get a tubo, I almost always remove the cigar from the tube. It does help improve the home aging process, and I just keep the empty tube aside in case I decide to take it "on the road." If it’s a cigar that has a very fine wrapper, or if it’s an expensive cigar that you don’t want to get mangled when digging through your box, sometimes it’s better to just remove the cap and let air flow in from the foot.
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Found cigars

byGary Korb

Q. I bought a couple of cigars back in February of 2008, then somehow forgot about them until I found them in the back of a drawer. They've been at roughly room temperature in the dark, and are still wrapped in their cellophane. Should they still be okay to smoke? If so, is there anything I should do to prepare them?- Colin. C. A. At this point, I doubt it. The best advice I could give you is simply to pinch them. If they are very hard, like sticks which is most likely, they're cooked and ready for the kindling pile. On the other hand, if there is even a little give to them when you pinch them, there may still be some moisture in there and they might possibly be salvageable. If so, remove the cellos and place the cigars in your humidor in a section not too close to the humidifier. The idea is to SLOWLY re-humidify them. Check them in about a week. If they seem to feel more supple, move them a little closer to the humidifier. If they improve again the following week, just let them sit and give them at least a month. By then, you'll know if you've saved them or not by lighting one up.
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91

601 La Bomba

Storing small cigars packaged in tins

byGary Korb

Q. Do small cigars (in the tins) need humidification?- Roger D. A. In most cases, particularly the dry-cured, machine-made "café" cigars such as Panter (shown) Dannemann, Schimmelpennick, etc., do not need any humidification. However, handmade longfiller small cigars like Cohiba Pequeños, Padron Corticos, CAO Gold Karats, and the like, should be kept in a humidor.
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How do you store box press cigars?

byGary Korb

Q. I bought some box press cigars. Which is better, to leave them in the box or remove them and store in a humidor?- Robert C. (town witheld) A. As with all premium cigars, regardless of how they're rolled, they will fare much better in a well-maintained humidor. If what you're really worried about is that your box press cigars might lose their edge (so to speak) and regain some of their roundness, keeping them in their cellos and maintaining your humidor's RH at around 67% average will help. It can take a long time for box press cigars to lose their shape. Generally speaking, you'll probably smoke them well before they do. I have some Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Toro cigars (shown) that are now close to six years old, without cellos, and they're still pretty square.
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86

Rocky Patel Freedom

88

La Fontana Vintage

Freezing a box of cigars

byGary Korb

Q. Can you store cigars in their original sealed box in the freezer to keep them fresh?- Vinnie D. A. Although I'm not a big proponent of freezing cigars, yes, you can, but you must THAW them SLOWLY. Move them to the fridge for 24 hours, then let them "warm-up" at room temp for another day before putting the cigars in your humidor. Allowing them to rest in your humidor for a couple of weeks should give them enough time to settle and smoke nicely, too. That said, IMHO, I would try to avoid putting them in the freezer if at all possible. A cool, dark space should keep a sealed, cellophaned factory box fresh for about three weeks, or more, depending on the RH of the storage space.
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Removing mold stains from a cigar humidor

byGary Korb

Q. I have a cigar humidor someone gave me as a gift; it hasn't seen much use for the past year or two. When I last checked it, I saw a few black stains the size of a quarter or so presumably caused by mold or fungus. What can I do to remove those stains, or at least be sure they won’t damage any cigars?- Bill in West Kennebunk, ME A.  If you're certain it's mold, the simplest solution is to very lightly sand off the spots with a fine-grit sandpaper (150 will do). Remove the dust by using the hose extension from your household vacuum, or blowing it out with a hair dryer. Once you're satisfied the stains are gone, lightly wipe down the interior of the humidor with some polyglycol (50/50) humidifying solution. This will help re-moisturize the walls and help fend off any future mold spores. You can also use a Boveda cigar humidor seasoning kit. (Note: one kit services a space for 25-50 cigars, so make sure you by enough packs to properly season the box based on its total capacity.)  Charge the humidifier, close the lid, and monitor the temp and RH in the box for a few days. When it reaches the acceptable level for you, you can start filling you cigar humidor with cigars.  Finally, make sure you have the appropriate size humidifier and a digital hygrometer for the humidor. I suggest a bead or crystal type humidifier, which are much more stable and reliable.
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How my "Katrinador" saved my cigars

byGary Korb

By Bob "The Rev" MeynThe Rev has been smoking cigars (good ones at least – not the ones we used our fake I.D.'s to buy from the Time-Saver when we were 15) for his entire adult life. Like most folks, I started small, buying a few cigars at a time, but eventually I started buying boxes and bundles, found Cigar Auctioneer and hit on ALL my low-ball bids one week, etc., etc., and ran into the problem common to most of the good folks kind enough to read this article: where in heck am I gonna properly store all these wonderful cigars? Add into this equation two factors: 1) The Rev is tight with money, AND 2) I live in an area where occasionally the water is over our heads and we evacuate frequently to avoid water being over our heads. There was only one logical solution; build my own coolerdor, which by good fortune, is also the BEST humidor I've ever used, bar none, and trust me, I've tried plenty. Coolerdors, by their nature, function great as humidors. They maintain a good seal to retain humidity, are insulated so the temperature doesn't vary much, and are big compared to an average desktop humidor."The Katrinador" was built with an embarrassingly cheap array of parts, only one of which was actually purchased: a 36-Quart red cooler being discarded by my dad Big Bob because the drain plug didn't work, repaired with an old rubber plug I found in my junk drawer, a few Spanish cedar planks (pictured at right) obtained from my cousin Craig the Cabinet Maker, several cedar (not cardboard) cigar boxes left over from previous cigar purchase and one big standard humidifying device I got from Cigar Auctioneer for about 3 bucks. That's it. No hygrometer (I just pinch my cigars when I open the box – which is often) to see if humidifier needs a recharge of water. Cheap, ugly (to some, not to me) and extremely functional. The Katrinador has actually saved The Rev's cigars once floating briefly in a hotel pool in Birmingham, Alabama during the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The story of how it got in the pool is for sharing should we ever meet to enjoy cigars together. Without a doubt, my coolerdor has functioned at least as well as any expensive humidor and frankly mine has easily outperformed them for maintaining the quality of my smokes, which in my opinion, is the real purpose of a humidor. (_{CA]__{{{~
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Medium cool

byGary Korb

Q. I have a cigar humidor and the humidity is right on at about 75%, but the temp is a little cold - about 55-65 degrees. Is this RH going to be a bad thing on hot the days?- Casey in Georgia A. From my experience, I've found that cooler temperatures work much better overall, and 55-65 degrees is an acceptable range. That said, at those temps, you will want to keep the RH closer to 69% percent on average. Even at that temp, 75% RH seems a bit on the high side, but if your cigars are supple and smoke well, leave it alone, as every cigar smoker has his (or her) "acceptable zone" where they like their cigars to be. Re the second part of your question, when the temperature rises, you will want to get the RH down a bit. For example, if the temp in the humidor goes up to 70 degrees or higher, you want to get the RH closer to 65%. Alhtough it's rarer these days, high temps and high RH (over 75% / 75 degrees) can sometimes cause beetle eggs to hatch. Finally, try to avoid radical changes in temperature, say from 65 degrees to 75 overnight. The same would apply to your humdity levels.
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Five year term limit on cigars?

byGary Korb

Q. I understand that cigars should not be aged more than 5 years. Therefore, I have been inclined to smoke [my cigars within a three year period] and replace them every three years with newer boxes. Any input on this? A. As far as aging goes, cigars can be aged almost indefinitely; I've never read anything about a time limit. Moreover, I once read an article about smoking cigars that had been aged for 20 years and even as long as 50 years. On the other hand, I've also read that, like aging wine, cigars can eventually reach a point where they lose their bouquet. I have cigars at home that have been aging longer than 5 years, and they're mighty fine. That said, I prefer to smoke cigars within a more reasonable time period. In today’s crazy world, you never know when you’re time is up, so enjoy them while you can. Other than that, I would agree that three years is a realistic time frame for home-aging cigars.
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87

Kristoff Sumatra

Storing cigarillos: Should they be kept in a humidor, or kept in their tins or boxes?

byGary Korb

Q: Should cigarillos be stored in the humidor, or is it OK to leave them in their box or tin, and for how long?- Fernando in Gresham, OR A: It depends what kind of cigarillos. If they are the machine-made type, like Swisher Sweets, Café Crème, Panter, or Dannemann's, no need. Handmade cigarillos like the Padron Corticos, Davidoff Primeros, and La Flor Dominicana Mojitos are made by hand, and should therefore be kept in a humidor. Of course, it can't hurt to keep even machine-made cigarillos in a humidor. You can just place the whole tin in there, as-is. That said, if you smoke through a tin relatively quickly, it's probably not necessary.Moreover, cigarillos (or café cigars), are made by machine due to the difficulty of rolling such tiny cigars. According to one of my resources, it wasn't until 2003 that some manufacturers like Padron, Davidoff and La Flor mentioned above, et. al., began making handmade little cigars.
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Storing cigars in their factory boxes in a humidor

byGary Korb

Q. I just purchased three boxes of cigars and was about to put them in long term storage, but I'm unsure if I should leave the cello wrapper on the box, and if I should leave the cigars in the factory box while storing.- Josh C. A. For long term storage, you can leave everything intact. Removing the cello wrap on the box is optional. In either case, as long as the cigars are properly humidified, they'll be OK. I would also reccommend that for long term storage, especially if you're keeping them in their boxes, the cigars be stored at a cooler temperature, preferably closer to 60 degrees.
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Mason Jar Humidors

byGary Korb

Q. I'm heading off to Iraq for my anual summer vacation in a couple of days. My humidors have a habit of meeting horrible fates there - and worse still their contents. I've got a large Lexan mason type jar that's nearly bullet proof. But I'm still concerned about my cigars drying out like an Amish wedding every time I open it. Any thoughts on how I can take better care of them? Even if they could be replaced, the mail out where I'm going is slow at best and I don't envision you guys opening a store there any time soon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.Thanks,Robby A. The mason jars tend to be the most moisture preserving humidors made b/c they're so air-tight. Unless it already has a humidifier, I would buy something like a Dry-Mistat stick to toss in there. Make sure you use only distilled water, too. I'd also get a digital hygrometer. The Little Havana is perfect for the jar, too. Keep the lid closed at all times and keep the cigars in their cellos for extra protection. Check the hygrometer everyday and keep the jar out of any direct sunlight. If the humidity gets too high (over 75%), just crack open the lid until it settles down. With the added humidity while you're out at sea, I don't think you'll have a problem with them drying out. Once you get to Iraq, that's another story. But if you keep the lid sealed and some form of humidification in there, they should be able to withstand the desert climate.
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90

Ashton Aged Maduro

87

Vega Fina

Coolerdors vs. Humidors

byGary Korb

Traditionally speaking, a well-made wooden humidor lined in Spanish cedar is the optimal enclosure for keeping your cigars fresh. Presuming the humidor is properly seasoned and capable of maintaining a consistent relative humidity, your cigars should remain fresh almost indefinitely. Many years ago, a friend of mine (who is also a cigar smoker) told me that he inherited his father's humidor. Having owned the humidor for decades, his father kept it in good condition, and it still had a good number of cigars inside which, to his surprise, were still in good shape. Inside the humidor was an old brass analog hygrometer (probably not made in China), and a chunk of potato. Missing, was a  humidifier. He told me his dad felt the potato was a good solution for two reasons: 1) it doesn't give off any odor, and 2) there's enough moisture in the potato to keep the cigars fresh for at least a month. (Some cigar smokers have been known to use a piece of apple as a humidifier.) Personally, I'll take a crystal filled humidifier any day. But if you opt for the potato or apple solution, just make sure to experiment until you know exactly how large a piece you'll need to use. Another popular storage option is the "Coolerdor." As the name implies, it's made by using a beer cooler for storing your cigars. It makes sense, too. They're well insulated, have a good seal, and will hold hundreds of loose cigars, or a good number of boxes. Another variation of the "Coolerdor" is the "Tupperdor." Again, as the name implies, a large Tupperware® (or similar type plastic storage box) is used in place of a beer cooler. I have several humidors and a Tupperdor (actually it's made by Rubbermaid®) that I use for storing boxes of cigars that I don't have room for in my traditional humidors. (I guess you could call it a "Rubberdor.") Many cigar smokers admit to having only a Coolerdor, and I can attest that it really works. I have about six boxes of cigars, and though the unit is not tightly sealed, with the help of a Xikar 250 ct. crystal-based humidifier and a digital hygrometer, every cigar has remained fresh. I take cigars to smoke from the boxes until I get down to, say, the bottom row. By then I usually have enough room in one of my humidors to empty the box, and if not, I simply move the cigars from one box to another in the storage container. Most of you reading this already know the advantages of using a traditional humidor. I choose to remove the cellos from most of my cigars, and I'm just more comfortable keeping them in a traditional humidor. The advantages of Coolerdors are: 1) They're generally large enough to store a lot of overstock cigars, whether they be singles or boxes. 2) Since the cigars are still in their factory boxes, they maintain a certain degree of insulation, and since most factory boxes are made of Spanish cedar, it's pretty similar to keeping them in a standard wooden humidor. I check the boxes at least once a week and I've found the cigars are always nice and supple. If the cigars are wrapped in cello, you have another layer of protection. As a result, the cigars are kept together, so there's no chance of them "marrying" with the other cigars. Finally, and one of the greatest reasons for a Coolerdor 4) A Coolerdor costs merely fraction of what a good humidor, even many small, 25 ct. humidors can cost. There's no rule that says you have to keep your cigars in a traditional humidor. And cigar smokers who do choose that route, shouldn't disapprove of a BOTL who keeps his (or her) cigars in a Coolerdor. Chances are, most of them can afford a good humidor, but Coolerdor owners also tend to have very LARGE cigar collections, and the price of a tall, well-made cabinet humidor can certainly be cost-prohibitive; though a good, affordable alternative is the Foot Locker humidor (above). Besides, if a Coolerdor works, why not save your money and buy more cigars instead? In closing, the end justifies the means. Being the traditionalist that I am, I still prefer a wooden humidor, but as a temporary storage space, my Coolerdor does a great job, and as they say, "Whatever works." (_[GK]__{{{~ Tupperware® and Rubbermaid® are registered trademarks of their respective companies.
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Cigars with cello or without cello: What's the dif'?

byGary Korb

Q: I'm considering placing an order for a box of Punch Rothschild cigars in the natural wrapper and noticed two different options. One option is the "Rothschild (Cello)," and the other is just the "Rothschild." Can you explain what "cello" stands for, or means?  At this point, I'm assuming cello means the cigars are individually cellophane wrapped?- Norm H. in St. Louis, MO A: You are correct sir! When you see "(Cello)" in the listing, that means the cigars come wrapped in cellophane wrappers like most premium cigars. The other selection, also referred to as "Cabinet Selection," is one in which the cigars are presented without cello so they can be placed right into your humidor. Since many cigar smokers remove the cello from their cigars before placing them in their humidor, the no cello option saves them some time. On the other hand, cellos offer your cigars extra protection, especially if you travel with them and don't have a cigar case.
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91

Alec Bradley Black Market

Damp cigar blues

byGary Korb

Q. I think my cigars are ruined. I took a cigar out of my humidor yesterday and noticed that it was extremely soft, like a wet sponge. After checking most of the other cigars in the box, they were damp, too. Is there any way to save them?- Rick in Monroe, NJ A. Sounds like your humidity is at an all-time high, so you'll need to dry those cigars out before they lose their bouquet altogether, or even worse, develop mold. The key here is to simply remove the source of the dampness, the usual suspect being your humidifier. (You might even want to leave the humidor open for a day or two.) Monitor the cigars daily until they begin to regain their firmness. Most importantly, make sure your hygrometer is properly calibrated. You may have been getting false readings. If you don't have a hygrometer, I suggest you get one ASAP, preferably a good digital model that also displays the temperature in your humidor. Both, RH and temp play a vital role in the overall health and preservation of your cigars.
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Do tubos help regulate humidity?

byGary Korb

Q: I bought some Romeo y julieta Clemenceau en tubos and was wondering how long they will stay fresh if not in a humidor. Does the tube help regulate humidity at all?- Matt Swan (city/state not included) A: The tube is used primarily for protecting the cigar, not regulating humidity. Additionally the Clemenceau tube is not hermetically sealed, so you must put them in your humidor (with or without the tube). Otherwise, they will begin to dry out within a week or two depending on where you store them.
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How can I calibrate the hygrometer on my box of CAO Vision cigars?

byGary Korb

Q: I recently purchased the CAO Vision cigars with the humidor box and I cannot get the digital hydrometer to read correctly. I did the salt test and my portable hygrometer read exactly 75%, and the one on the front of the box read 45% humidity. I’ve seasoned it for 3 days and it doesn’t get any higher than that. Is there anything else I can do, or is there a way to calibrate it?- Patrick Reeve (city/state unknown) A: Yes. Boveda, makers of the humidity packs you find in some cigar boxes, also make a "One Step Calibration Kit." Since it appears you've done the salt test correctly, my gut tells me the hygrometer is most likely bad; in which case, don't spend any more $$ unless you want to try one more possible solution.Purchase the calibration kit, remove all the cigars from the box, and keep them safe in a ziploc bag. Since you can't remove the Vision hygrometer without a lot of difficultly, just place the Calibration bag open in the empty Sensi-box and keep the humidor closed for a day. If you get similar, low RH readings, or the RH does not move at all, it should prove your salt test was correct and the unit is bad. The best way to go would be to purchase a new digital hygrometer that will fit comfortably inside the box and a Boveda Calibration Kit. The new unit should be more reliable, and you won't have to deal with the factory hygrometer at all.Finally, use the calibration kit on your new hygrometer before you place it in the Sensi-box. (The kit can be used repeatedly for up to 90 days.) Then, unless that one is also bad, you'll have a much better idea of what the RH really is, and you'll sleep better. too.
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Thoughts About Aging Cigars: Part 2

byGary Korb

Making the most of the aging processBy David "Doc" Diaz | StogieFresh.com [In Part 1] I published my discussion on why and how we age cigars. In part 2 of this series, I will talk about how you perceive the changes in your cigars as they age and how to make the most of the aging process. We will examine what cigars make the best candidates for aging and will also talk about the time, money and patience required to successfully age your smokes. Individual PerceptionsI have many cigars in my own collection that are 6-7 years of age and I also smoke older cigars occasionally. Not too long ago, I received a well-aged Cuban cigar from a friend of mine. It was a Dunhill from 1987 that was absolutely fabulous. So, I do sometimes get the opportunity to smoke some really old ones. It is difficult to predict how a cigar will age and you can't be sure whether or not you will even like the cigar after it has some significant time in your humidor. The cigar may indeed be smoother and more complex, but there is no guarantee that you will enjoy that flavor profile. It is the individual smoker that decides if the changes are good, bad or indifferent. There is no one set answer for every person. And, there are many factors responsible for how any given person will interpret the characteristics of a cigar. The number of a person's organs of taste and smell, their prior experiences with tastes and aromas, and their ability to perceive and subsequently label these tastes and aromas, will all play a role in determining whether or not they will relish the fruits of a well-aged cigar. The best way to decide if a cigar is aging beneficially is to smoke many cigars from the same batch over a period of time. In other words, by smoking them AS they age, you can experience, first-hand, the changes taking place during the course of a cigar's lifespan. I really enjoy sampling the cigars periodically as they age. In that way, I can check their progress and determine whether I need to smoke them quicker because their body and strength is tailing off rapidly, or whether I can relax and smoke them at my leisure because they are aging slowly and gracefully. It is always a good idea to keep flavor notes on a cigar. Keeping notes can help you to see if the changes that are taking place are to your liking. You can compare your notes about a cigar as you continue to smoke cigars in the same batch over time. (To keep notes on your cigars, download the Stogie Fresh Flavor Tasting Chart.) Though many handmade premium cigars will age beneficially, if I were to give some general advice about which cigars will benefit most from extended aging, I would say choose cigars that are medium to full in body and/or strength. I have found that these cigars will still exhibit the characteristics that I enjoyed in them when they were young, but with further age will offer nuances and flavors that may have been overshadowed when they were younger. Remember, though all cigars will CHANGE over time, not all cigars will IMPROVE with extended aging. Time, Money, PatienceLaying cigars down to age takes a major commitment: of time, money, and patience. Time is a concept that is lost on many cigar smokers. Many people buy cigars in samplers of 5-10 cigars so they can smoke one or two here and there over an indefinite time span and typically run out of those cigars before they have significant age. However, long-term aging may take years and will require much patience. By purchasing cigars by the box, you can pluck one out at various intervals and note the changes that 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and more, have made on the smoke. This is difficult for many people who don't have that many cigars and/or don't have the patience to let their cigars age for more than a few months. Ideally you should buy cigars by the box for aging. That way you can keep them in their original box and away from the influences of other aromas and flavors of cigars in the same humidor. By buying boxes, you will have enough cigars to enjoy periodically for the long term. But, purchasing boxes of cigars also has its drawbacks. It requires some serious cash, not only for cigars, but also for storage space. People that want to give their cigars some serious age, must think in terms of large volume humidors. Either large coolers, or cabinet style humidors, or walk-ins. Providing the space for hundreds, if not thousands of cigars can be costly, but is a necessary adjunct to serious collecting and aging. In summary, it takes a good amount of time, money, and even more patience to stick to a process that will reward you with the benefits of aging cigars. Aging premium cigars can be an educational and fun pastime and it can result in some optimally aged smokes. But, before you embark on a plan of collecting and aging, be sure to consider the potential costs as well as the prospective rewards.If you missed Part 1 click here.*   *   * David "Doc" Diaz is the publisher of Stogie Fresh and the editor of the Stogie Fresh Cigar Journal. He has served as an educator, researcher and writer and has taught in the Health Education and Health Science field for over 30 years. He possesses an earned doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. This article originally appeared in the Stogie Fresh newsletter of August 1, 2011. Re-posted by permission of Dr. Diaz.
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96

Asylum 13

Thoughts About Aging Cigars: Part 1

byGary Korb

Why and how we age cigarsBy David "Doc" Diaz | StogieFresh.com Fine stogies are like fine wines, they often get better with age. Perhaps you have had the opportunity to taste a cigar that has been carefully aged for years and, perhaps too, you have experienced first-hand the transformation of a cigar that has reached the pinnacle of flavor. I have had this experience and it is, without a doubt, sublime. In fact, many cigars that are hand rolled with long filler tobacco will benefit with some extra time in the humidor. However, I have learned an important axiom over the years and it is this truth that guides my purchasing practices and that has shaped my process for reviewing cigars at Stogie Fresh: "The benefits of aging cigars will vary from cigar to cigar and may range from considerable to negligible." How Cigars ChangeCigars are made of plant matter and all plant matter changes over time: sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. So, will a cigar improve or worsen with a year or two, or more, of aging? The answer is... YES! I will start by pointing out that most cigars are intended to taste great as soon as they hit the retailers shelves from their point of origin. Cigars coming out of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, just to name a few, arrive at the point-of-sale with considerable age and in prime smoking condition. The best growers and manufacturers are meticulous with their handling of the product. The tobacco has been fully cured and completely fermented. It has likely been baled and aged for 2-3 years prior to being used to make a premium cigar. After the cigars have been rolled, they typically receive another 3 months (or longer) of rest in aging rooms, prior to shipping. So, by the time the cigars reach the retailers shelves and, eventually, your humidor, they have experienced considerable change. Nevertheless, because a cigar is a plant product, the tobacco will continue to morph and evolve (even if very slowly) over the course of years. Though cigar tobacco has undergone much fermentation at the factory, there will still be micro-fermentation in the tobacco, which will rid the tobacco of some of the by-products of fermentation. Ammonia and other compounds can make the flavor of the tobacco acrid and unpleasant until they have dissipated. Thus, longer aged cigars will often mellow due to the reduction of these chemicals. Various other compounds within the tobacco will also change over time. As your cigars rest in your humidor, the oleoresins and moisture will migrate across the leaves, becoming distributed more evenly throughout the cigar. This will predispose a cigar to a more even burn and will result in subtle changes in the flavor. This process is known as "marrying." As the cigars continue to age, the flavors will change and may become less distinct. So, when you smoke a cigar that has been aging for some length of time, the changes that were once so clear may be more difficult to pick up because those flavors have mellowed and blended. While this may sound ominous, it may also be a good thing since the tobaccos will have a tendency to become smoother and will display fewer "off" tastes and/or less "bite." You may be able to pick up flavors that were once masked by the other, more powerful flavors in the tobacco. This is the essence of COMPLEXITY in a cigar. Complexity is the emergence of layers and multiple combinations of flavors in a cigar. In  summary, the tobacco inside your cigars will undergo continual change through the process of aging in your humidor. How you perceive those changes will be one of the topics of part 2 of this article. In the next part of this article, I will discuss how to make the most of the aging process in your cigars. We will examine what cigars make the best candidates for aging and will also talk about the time, money and patience required to successfully age your smokes. To read Part 2, click here. *   *   * David "Doc" Diaz is the publisher of Stogie Fresh and the editor of the Stogie Fresh Cigar Journal. He has served as an educator, researcher and writer and has taught in the Health Education and Health Science field for over 30 years. He possesses an earned doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. This article originally appeared on May 30, 2011. Re-posted by permission of Dr. Diaz.
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Rotating your cigars

byGary Korb

Q. Am I supposed to rotate the cigars in my humidor? In other words, move the smokes on the bottom to the top every once in a while to help keep them better humidified?- Rick F. in New Mexico A. There's no steadfast rule on this, but if you have a lot of cigars in your humidor with little space between them, it does help to rotate them from bottom to top every couple of months. The size of the humidor compared to the number of cigars in it, overall circulation, temperature, and RH also factor-in as to how often you may need to rotate your cigars.  If you're the type of collector who removes the cello from their cigars before putting them in your humidor, be careful handling them so as not to tear the wrappers when moving them around. The thing I like about rotating my cigars is, I always find something good to smoke that I forgot I had.
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93

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos

95

Kristoff Ligero Criollo

To Wrap Or Not To Wrap - That Is The Question

byGary Korb

Q. Should I remove the cellophane wrapper from my cigars? A. The opinion of whether to remove the cello on a cigar, like most opinions, tends to be split. "Traditionalists" prefer to remove the cello, keeping their cigars in a properly maintained humidor where they can "breathe" and mingle in their naked state with the other cigars. Others contend that keeping the cello on has no effect nor causes any detriment to the aging process of the cigar. This camp may have a case. We have many cello-wrapped cigars in our humidor that have been aging for as long as four years and in some cases even longer. These cigars smoke perfectly fine. You may find a brownish tint on the cello of these cigars, that's all. I happen to be one of those who remove the cello, b/c 1) I just prefer it. 2) I like to give some of my cigars at least a month or more to settle before I smoke them and I have found it to be a good way to mellow them out.   Generally speaking, if you go through your cigars quickly, removing the cello will make no difference. If you want to 'age' your cigars at home over a long period of time, say, 3 months and longer, remove the wrappers. But here's what I propose to just about everyone who writes in with this question: Next time you buy a box of cigars, take five of them and remove the cello. Keep the 5 without the cello and 5 of the cigars with the cello in your humidor for about 3 months and compare the taste. Then you can be the judge.
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What is the lifespan of humidifier gel crystals?

byGary Korb

Q:  Have been having some problems with maintaining consistent humidity in my humidor. I live in Northwest Pennsylvania and in the winter the room humidity stays around 20 to 30 percent and the temp is around 68 percent. Have been using crystals with solution and the humidity in the humidor stays around 63 to 65 percent. I placed a sponge type humidifier in the humidor and it went to 75 percent, then I removed the sponge. The reading now is 65 percent. How long will the crystals last? I have been using them for 2 years and did not have much trouble during the summer maintaining the 70 percent and the humidor holds 50 cigars.- Harold H. in Kane, PA A: For the answer to this question I emailed a contact of mine who markets this very type of product. According to her, "The crystals will last for years (around 10) if they never go completely dry. If the crystals go dry every time before recharging, maybe 1½ - 2 years tops."
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What are the risks and effects of high summer humidity on my cigars?

byGary Korb

Q: i am relatively new to cigar smoking, approximately one year now. Over that time I have built a very impressive collection of cigars and three humidors. With it being the summer months, I have problems with increased humidity levels where at times the humidity gets as high as 80% RH. What are the risks and possible damaging effects of excessive humidity? At times I open the humidor lids to allow the extra humidity to escape. Is this also a good thing? - John A. in New York A: At 80% RH your cigars are going to get mighty spongy. If the temp is almost as high, you risk mold or beetles, but more likely the former. For now, I would remove the humidifier, since at that level you probably don't need it. Place the humidifier in a zip-lock bag and put it away until the weather turns colder. However, if you see the RH dip below 60%, replace it. Try to move the humidor to the coolest space in the house, too. Make sure you're not refilling your humidifier too often, either.Finally, yes, opening the lid and letting the cigars get some fresh air is good to do on a regular basis. Usually an hour a week will do it, though it may not have that much of an effect on the moisture already in the cigars. Try rotating your cigars every couple of months, too, to help keep things equalized.
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82

Macanudo Cafe

How do you "revive" dry cigars kept in a cigar box?

byGary Korb

If you keep your cigars in their boxes and they are beginning to dry out, here's a really good way to revive them. Keep in mind that if cigars are very dry they will be difficult to revive satisfactorily. The key here is, if moisture can escape from a cigar, it can also be replaced. One of the simplest methods is to place the entire box inside a plastic bag. Be sure the bag is not completely closed because you have to have a little air flow in there. It helps to place a sponge dampened with distilled water or 50/50 solution in the bag, too. The idea here is to allow slow absorption of moisture, preventing the cigars from getting too much humidity too soon. If you shock the cigars by adding too much moisture at once they can actually burst - the last thing you want to do to pricey primos. This can take several weeks to over a month, so be patient. Rotate the cigars every few days bringing them from the bottom of the box to the top. Keep this up continuously and in about three to four weeks you should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you don't have a cigar box, you can use a sealable plastic container. Put the dry cigars in the container and seal it for the first two days. This will trap any moisture still left in the cigars. On the third day, add the piece of dampened sponge, but here again, you run the risk of bursting, so be sure not to over-saturate the sponge and to keep the lid propped open in one corner to allow air flow. When cigars lose a certain amount of moisture, they also lose much of their bouquet and will probably not taste as good as a well-kept cigar. The key to all of this is (whether you're reviving cigars in their original box or in a humidor) cigars lose moisture slowly, therefore, they need to regain it slowly. Once again, be patient and never resort to drastic measures to revive your cigars or you'll ruin them permanently.
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Can you store cigars in a refrigerator?

byGary Korb

Q: I’m new to cigars and do not yet have a humidor. Is it OK if I put them in the refrigerator for now?- Bill Taylor in Mobile, Alabama A: Short answer: NO. Here's why...A refrigerator, though it would seem like a logical place to keep your cigars, has a very low relative humidity. It's usually somewhere around 42% RH, which is much lower than the 65% - 70% RH required for keeping your cigars moist. In other words, it won't take long before your precious cigars are as dried-out as beef jerky. Some experts say that odors from foods such as cold cuts, onions, Chinese takeout leftovers, etc. could possibly affect the flavor of your cigars. I'm not entirely in agreement with this, especially if the cigars are in cellos and kept in their factory box. However, getting back to the main point, your cigars shouldn't be kept in the fridge in the first place. For long term storage, invest in a cigar humidor. You can usually find good cigar humidors on sale, too. Your cigars will be much happier, plus, you'll have more room in the fridge for beer.
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How long can I leave my cigars in their factory boxes?

byGary Korb

Q: I have several humidors but have still managed to run out of space. I see cigars at Famous-Smoke that I would like to order. How long will newly ordered cigars, left in their unopened cellophane wrappers, remain "good" until such time as I can place them in one of my humidors? - Don in Escondido, CA A: Sounds like we have something in common. Did you see my blog on my "Tupperdor"?To answer your question more directly, cigars will remain fresh in their factory boxes and cellos for around 3-weeks, even a month, as long as you subject them to normal temperatures and do not leave them where sunlight can get to them. A cool dark space is preferred. If you've already opened the boxes, that's fine, but if you want to really insure the cigars will last until they can be moved, pick up a box of Boveda 69% humidity packs. One pack will last up to 3 months.
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Hygrometer accuracy woes

byGary Korb

Q. I have a 100 count humidor with two humidifiers. I've done the salt test on my hygrometer and 60% is 75%. I'm only using one humidifier now and I'm showing 67% RH which relates to about 82% if i can believe the salt test. What do you think - new hygrometer?- Fred B. in Texas A. My philosophy is that if you know the actual RH by "doing the math," then I see no reason to invest in a new unit, assuming it's analog and you want to go digital. I have a digital unit that's off by 10 points. So if it reads 60%, I know it's reallly 70%. If your hygrometer is analog and you can calibrate it, when you're done with the salt test, depending on where the needle is, move it to 75%. It takes about 6 hours to do the test right. You may find it a little more accurate. IOW, you won't have as wide a gap when you read it. Some manufacturers now make a digital hygrometer that you can calibrate., so you might want to look into one of those.
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Tactile Dysfunction

byGary Korb

Q. I recently noticed some of my cigars are getting soft, mainly in the center sections (this is very obvious in some of them). I moved my humidor into a cooler part of the house thinking that the temperature might be causing this. It's not unusual for the home to reach 80 degrees inside this time of the year. The humidity in the humidor is pretty constant at 69 or 70% Am I going in the right direction?- Bernard in Michigan A. Your instincts were correct by moving the humidor to a cooler space. Most often, the cause of "soft" cigars is too much humidity. Of course that, combined with high temps can make them even more squishy while also making them vulnerable to tobacco beetle infestation. Moreover, you can have major burning problems like canoeing, unraveling, and splitting. Assuming your hygrometer is accurate, try reducing the humidity closer to 65%. You can do this by removing the humidifier and see how far the RH drops within 24 hours. Of course, it may take up to a week before the cigars start to stiffen back up a bit. It's a game of patience. Make sure that cooler part of the house where you moved your cigar humidor is also devoid of direct sun or lamp light shining on the box. Finally, check the accuracy of your hygrometer, too, just to be sure it's not actually reading higher than it displays.
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Rolling cigars in wine

byGary Korb

Is it acceptable to lightly double-coat or soak cigars in wine or other desired liquids? Using a long shallow plate, I briefly roll my cigars in wine, place them in the humidor, and they seem fine. Do you suggest a better way? - Rick F. in Colorado I find your question most interesting. My gut reaction is to avoid soaking cigars in anything that would cause them to absorb additional moisture. However, if they're smoking fine for you, what can I say than more power to you. Moreover, I would assume that the additional moisture would drive the RH up in your humidor. I'd also be curious to know how long you leave them in the humi until they're ready.With regard to it being "acceptable," I suppose whatever works for you (and cigar smokers in general) is fair game. And as far as "a better way" goes, I tend to avoid such practices. I have seen some cigar smokers dip the head of their cigar in a glass of brandy or cognac, wine, etc. Even I've tried this a few times and it wasn't bad. Therefore, if I wanted to flavor my cigar with wine or some other liquid, that's how I would do it. The only thing I would add regarding your wine rolling method would be to have a cigar humidor dedicated to housing only the wine rolled cigars. Unless you can find a way to infuse your cigars without having to soak the wrappers, I'm not sure there is any other way to get the results you're looking for. Perhaps readers of this post have some suggestions? In the meantime, enjoy.
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Foam core or gel?

byGary Korb

Q: What do you find to be more reliable, foam core disk humidifiers or gel-filled jars?- Steven A. in Boise, ID A: If I had to choose between a foam core disk and a gel jar, I'd probably opt for the foam core disk, since I haven't had much luck with gel jars. That said, if it was a choice between a foam core disk and a crystal gel-based disk, I would go for the gel disk. I've found that the crystal gel models, like those made by Xikar, have lived up to their advertising in many ways. For one, they don't get moldy or leak particles onto your cigars. Secondly, they hold much more solution (or distilled water) than foam core models, so you don't have to refill them as often. And finally, they keep the RH more stable. One other thing I like about them is, because they're clear it's easier to tell when you need to refill them.A couple of things also worth noting about crystal gel humidifiers: Never let the crystals dry out completely, as they will be difficult to rehydrate. Also, if you choose to purchase the Xikar type humidifiers, make sure you use their matching solution. It really does work better than plain distilled water. However, if you are using the other type of humidifier that uses beads like those made by Cigar Mechanic, distilled water is all you need.IMO, the days of the green foam core humidifiers are numbered.
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92

Java By Drew Estate

91

Oliva Connecticut Reserve

Weather changes and the effects on your humidor

byGary Korb

Q. I currently have 5 'humi' devices in my 400 count humidor. In the summer, I seldom have a problem keeping the RH at or near 67% unless I happen to add several new cigars that are a bit too dry when I receive them. However, in the winter my humi has been struggling to stay at 60% (sometimes a bit less). Oddly, the outdoor humidity has been at or near 90% quite regularly here. I'm sure it's a bit less due to my home heating. My question is, why would I have trouble keeping the RH up? Do I need to add more humi-paks? Is it the particular cigars I've added? I haven't added any new cigars in over 30 days but do open my humidor at least once a day to grab a stick for smoking each day. - Cliff in Langley, OK A. That's odd, because usually if the weather outside is more humid, it tends to leak into the house and can raise the RH in your humidor. Since it's colder during the winter, you turn up the heat, which can make the air drier in the house, therefore, the humidity in your humidor can drop a few points. Moreover, I get more emails about low RH problems during the winter months. In your case, it might be fair to assume that even though it's been very damp outside, your house is well insulated, so the heat could be cuasing the lower numbers.Temperature also has a big effect on the RH. If the temp is higher, a lower RH is OK and vice versa. It's sort of a balancing act. Regardless of the conditions in or outside your house, try to keep the avg. RH at about 67% year-round. For a cigar humidor like yours, which holds hundreds of cigars, you may want to replace those 5 humidifiers with something like a CigarOasis XL (battery model shown), which constantly monitors your temp and humidty and regulates it. As I've written so often in the past, the best advice is the tactile method: lightly pinching the cigars at the foot, middle and head. If they're supple you're OK regardless of the numbers. (I'm always a little skeptical about the readings, anyway.) Finally, although I don't know how long you've had your humidor, over time the box should "settle" to a point where you only need to do a little maintenance to keep the conditions where you want them.
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Keep the Tubes

byGary Korb

When I travel, I put my cigars in metal tubes from cigars I've smoked and leftovers I've collected from cigar stores. I've collected about a dozen of the larger tubes (7x54), they can hold most of what I smoke. Metal tubes keep the cigars fresh and protected from breakage - and they're cheap. Want to keep them from sliding around in the tube? Add a small wad of cotton. Perfect. - Michael Flemming, Tallahassee, FL
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94

Jameson Red Label

My cigars are fine (in spite of what my hygrometer says)

byGary Korb

Some of the most often-asked questions I get aren't about cigars, but about hygrometers. It appears, at least from the perspective of my readers, that hygrometers are the most untrustworthy of all cigar accessories. It's usually something like, "I calibrated my hygrometer and it's still reading 55%." You can see how this would make a cigar smoker very nervous about the future condition of his cigars. Then there are the questions specifically about digital hygrometers. Most cigar smokers expect these devices to be as accurate as an old-fashioned rectal thermometer, or even more so. After all, they're DIGITAL. They should be spot-on, right? I'd love to agree, but unfortunately such is not the case. Just about all cigar hygrometers are made in China, so would you really expect such cheaply mass-produced items to be identical? If so, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, too. Avid cigar smokers generally know where the humidity and temperature are supposed to be. Plus, many of them are perfectionists, so you can imagine the frustration when their cigars feel fresh and the hygrometer is telling them their cigars should be closer to tumbleweed - and vice versa. This brings me to my point. Believe it or not, YOU are your cigars' best hygrometer. Experienced cigar smokers don't need a hygrometer to tell whether their cigars are fresh. Simply taking a few out from various rows and gently pinching the foot, middle and head will tell you straight away how fresh the cigars are. I have two analog hygrometers and three digitals. I know that one of the analogs is right-on because I've tested it with a Boveda One-Step Calibration pack several times, and it always finished at the 75% mark. Plus, when I check the cigars in that humidor they always feel good. That's my "acid test." I also recently made a storage box humidor and I found an old digital hygrometer I wasn't using. After putting in a new battery I ran it through the calibration test and it wouldn't go higher than 63%. Just to be sure, I ran the test again but with another digital hygrometer for control. Again, the old unit read 63% while the "control" read 71%. So, did I trash the old hygrometer and buy a new one? Nope, I kept it because all the cigars feel fine. Even though the RH averages about 61%, I know it's really more like 73%. In spite of the wacky reading, I know I can trust that hygrometer, but I trust myself even more. Sure, there are plenty of hygrometers that read accurately, but don't let the readings from your hygrometer(s) ruin your day. It's not worth it. If you've been keeping tabs on your cigars, rotating them regularly, etc., I'd be willing to bet they're just fine - and so should you.  (_[GK]__{{{~
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New box of cigars problem solved

byGary Korb

Q. If I have a new box of cigars, should I leave them in the box or remove them from the box and place them in a humidor?Thanks,- Felix Gonzalez A. My advice would be to place them in the humidor, preferably without the cello wrappers, or mostly without them. By placing them in the humidor, they will age better, allowing the tobaccos to continue to "marry" and mellow. I say "mostly" b/c this way, if you take some out with you to play golf, a herf, wherever, you know the wrappers will be protected. If you have a good, protective travel case, it shouldn't matter, and you can home age them all without the cellos.
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Winter cigar storage

byGary Korb

Q. Living in the Rust Belt of Cincinnati, Ohio has provided me concerns with my humidor and fluctuating temperatures between summer and winter. During the summer I have little problem keeing my humidor at 68% +/- RH with a house temp of 74. During the winter when we keep the house at 68 I have a tough time keeping the RH above 65 with 2 humidifiers. Is there anything to worry about with these seasonal RH fluctuations?Thanks,Steve H. in Cincinnati A. 68 degrees with 65% RH is borderline. I don't think the cigars will suffer all that much during the winter months, but if you want a little extra insurance, picking-up a Boveda 72% Humidity Pack will help. Another way to go would be replacing your current humidifier/s with a CigarOasis ULTRA, or, depending on the size of your humidor, another CigarOasis model. That will save you some worry lines until Springtime, and help keep your humidor's climate consistent throughout the year.
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Storing cigars in their factory boxes without a humidor

byGary Korb

Q. Is it okay to keep cigars in their box, with the cello still on the box, for a period of time if I don't have room in my humidor?  A friend got me some cigars for my upcoming birthday and didn't know that my humidor was too full to handle them.- Tony L. A. Factory boxed cigars, as long as they remained sealed in their cello overwrap and the conditions are favorable, can keep well up to about a month. I would suggest keeping them in a cool, dark space, like a basement, which may also be a little damp, and will help keep the humidity up.  There are also several low-cost humidifying accessories you can buy to keep an opened factory box fresh until you have room to move them into your main humidor. You might want to purchase a Dry Mistat stick, or Humideze cups (or sticks) and place them in the box. Another excellent product is the Bóveda® 69% packet. Bóveda is the company that makes the humdity packets found in boxes of Arturo Fuente cigars (you may recognize the blue water droplet symbol.) It will assure the humidity level is right for at least one month. Just make sure that when you close the box it's closed tight, like your humidor would be. Speaking of which, these products work very well at maintaining humidity levels in your humidor, too.
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Cigars taken hostage!

byGary Korb

Q. How long can I leave cigars in my three finger leather cigar case in my trunk? - Joe L. in Bethlehem, PA A. First of all, the trunk of your car is not the ideal location for a filled cigar case. During hot weather, the trunk will most likely bake them to a crisp. During cold weather they might fare better, but may cause the wrappers to dry out and/or crack, Ideally, the case should be kept under "normal" temperature conditions. Add to that the fact that unlined leather cases can suck a lot of moisture out the cigars in as little as one day. Cedar-lined cases, like the one shown here, are much more conducive to keeping your cigars fresh like your home humidor. A case with a humidifier like the Le Tube 3 cigar pocket case (although it is not leather) also has the advantage of keeping the moisture in your cigars much more stable. Regardless of which type of case you own, keep it on your person or close-by, and use it primarily for transporting your cigars. It's NOT a humidor.
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82

Baccarat

86

Alec Bradley Connecticut

Pre-clipping cigars to lessen humidity

byGary Korb

Q. To bring overly humid cigars to smokable condition more quickly, what do you think about removing them from the cello, snipping the head as if you were planning to smoke them, but instead, returning them to the humidor for seasoning? It would seem that opening the head would allow moisture to escape much faster. Good idea or bad?- Bob M. in Secor, IL A. Traditionally, many cigar smokers remove the cello wrappers before placing their cigars in the humidor. There's no problem with pre-clipping them, either. However, to pre-clip them prior to smoking removes one neat aspect of the cigar smoking "ritual:" clipping a fresh cigar before lighting-up. IMO, pre-clipping the head may actually cause more moist air to enter the cigar. For that matter, you might be better off leaving the cigar out of the humidor. (I've done this on occasion with samples I've received that are particularly spongy.) If your cigars are over humidified, the best solution is to remove the humidifier until the RH adjusts to the level you prefer, then try to "stick-it." An average RH of 68% within a temperature range of 65 to 70 degrees should keep your cigars fresh and supple. Note also that some cigars take longer to "settle" than others. Like some other aspects of enjoying premium cigars, the key here is patience.
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The RH is too damn high!

byGary Korb

Q: Why is it that I have problems with my CAO Brazilia cigars unraveling? I keep my humidity between 74 and 78. It's the only brand I have this problem with. Is my only solution is to stop ordering them?- C.T. in Conway, Arizona A: Do not stop ordering them. The CAO Brazilias are awesome cigars. Your real problem is that your RH (relative humidity) is way too high. I'm surprised that all of your cigars aren't doing the same. A good RH, especially for thick Maduro wrappers should be closer to 66%. Even more surprising is that the weather in Arizona is generally very dry. Perhaps you're overcompensating. I would remove the humidifier from your humidor and let the cigars settle down to at least 69% before trying to smoke another one.
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Space between your cigars?

byGary Korb

Q. I do not understand when you say to leave space between cigars in the humidor. I take the cellos off, and all of my cigars are in piles according to their brand. Is it OK to stack the cigars and possibly rotate them every once in a while? Thank you, and I enjoy all of the information that I learn from your column.- James G., Cranberry Twp, PA A. I'm referring to air circulation, which is a key ingredient in keeping your cigars fresh. I also remove almost all of my cellos, but I tend to stack a lot of my cigars by size rather than brand - an non-issue since that's a personal choice thing. The key is to stack them loosely enough to create some air flow around them. I rotate my cigars from bottom to top about every 4-6 months. The only caveat I can add is, when you have so many cigars in your humidor without cellos, you have to be very careful about moving your cigars around. I've chipped a few feet doing this, so a light touch is important.
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86

Arturo Fuente

89

Aging Room Small Batch

Flying with cigars

byGary Korb

Q. If I am buying a box of cigars overseas, what is the best way to store the cigars whilst travelling on an airplane?- Michael in Australia A. Assuming you're not bringing Cuban cigars into the U.S., which could be confiscated at Customs, I would purchase an X-Treme humidor. They're air and water tight, and keep your cigars really fresh. I would also store them in your carry-on so they're traveling under "normal" conditions, as opposed to the freezing temperatures in the baggage compartment. The X-Treme model shown here holds 18 cigars, but they have models that hold less and more cigars. (For more information on X-Treme travel cigar humidors, please click here instead of the "More info" link below. Thank you.)
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The Science of Cigars: Proper humidity for home storage

byGary Korb

By Didier Houvenaghel In previous "The Science of Cigars" articles we discussed the general storage conditions and the basic concepts important to the good maintenance of our cigars. This week, we will see the humidification on a different angle: let's try to understand why a proper humidification is important. What is the exact influence of the humidity? Remember the basics – Cigar storage involves two types of humidity. The first and most important is the cigar's constituent humidity. Being the level of the water present in and between the cigar's internal leaves, the optimal range of constituent humidity is generally considered to be from 11.5% to 13.5%. Second is the cigar's environment humidity, being the level of water present into the atmosphere around the cigar. Typically this is the concentration of H2O (water) in the storage ambiance. Tending to naturally reach equilibrium, cigars gain or lose humidity in function of their environment's content of water. Being logically interconnected, both humidity levels are therefore important. Remember the objectives - The purpose of personal storage is to optimize the constituent humidity of your cigars consistently with your desires and tastes. On the one hand, the environment humidity can be controlled to assure an optimal cigar constituent humidity for tasting and combustion. On the other hand, the focus can be on assuring a cigar constituent humidity that would optimize the year-long slow fermentation and aging processes. In any case, storing cigars the right way requires a good knowledge and a long experience. Influence of humidity on cigars in aging - Balanced levels of humidity are positive and necessary for the good conservation of the cigars. Having the right water content influences positively the chemistry (good organic / mineral fraction) and the physics (elasticity for instance) of the leaves and the cigar. Aging cigars in a humid ambiance can generate a second round of fermentation which should be avoided because of a lack of control on its development. A more humid environment will simply trigger a rotting process. A cigar that is too dry during the aging will suffer a loss of aromas because of the dehydration of the cells and other organic compounds (like the oils and the waxes). Although some people argue that the resulting reduction of water content has a concentration effect on the aromatic perception and is therefore positive, a good balance should be encouraged. The dehydration process occurs in two key consecutive but very different phases. First, the physical dehydration of the cell's cytoplasm and the veins, then the chemical modification of some organic compounds due to the excessive loss of water. While the first can be recovered by a careful re-hydration of the dry cigars, the second is a permanent alteration of certain molecules. Influence of humidity on cigars in tasting - The combustion, facilitated by the absence of moisture, will accelerate and will result in excessively high temperatures in the combustion zone, this, in turn, causing the loss of the most fragile aromatic components. Also, a consequential dusty taste can be perceived during tasting due an increase of the mineral fraction resulting from the dehydration of the leave. A cigar that is too moist will suffer from more difficult combustion. The excess of water that has to be vaporized before the real organic combustion starts increases the heat needed and therefore consumes quantities of energy which will then not be available for the combustion itself. The quality of the burning will be affected. Also, the overabundance of H+ and OH-ions, due to this high humidity level, will make the smoke more of an irritant than that of an ideally humidified cigar. The proper humidity - So it seems clear that the humidity has a direct influence on the quality of both the aging and tasting of the cigars. Therefore, appropriate attention should be given in maintaining your cigars under the right ambient humidity and tasting them in the right constituent humidity; and here "the right" means that the unique final objective is to have a moment of pleasure. The proper humidification - It is generally accepted that some optimal storage conditions for average cigars are temperature of 68°F and a humidity level of 65%. Then and to avoid unwanted dampening or drying out, a certain temperature/humidity ratio should be respected. The decrease (or increase) of 1,8° Fahrenheit in temperature must be balanced out by the increase (or decrease) of 3 % in humidity (ratio 1,8°F / 3 %H). Generally, the limits of 60 F° - 77 F° and 65% - 75% humidity should not be exceeded. I don't have to remind you that a huge variety of humidification systems are available on the market. If a choice can be made among the multiplicity of systems (natural evaporation or artificial vaporization), sizes, aspects, etc, an important parameter to be careful about is, cigars should never be in contact with water or humidity of any sort from humidifying moss (green foam), emulsions, etc. One step further - What we have said today is right but a bit too simple. The complete reality is more complex . Our debate for this discussion should be to put into perspective the quality of the internal leaves of the cigar. What are the specifications of the liga (blend) we are talking about? Suffice it to say, two different blends could react very differently even under the same humidification, aging, and tasting conditions. In other words, the quality of the raw material - the tobacco leaves - have an critical influence on a cigar's "attitude" during the aging and tasting. A thick ligero, a thin volado, a Corojo wrapper or a Connecticut wrapper are leaves that behave differently under a same humidity! Yes, to fully understand the humidity dynamics in your cigars, you have to push the study one step further and understand its internal structure and leaves constitution! Experience it live – Finally, isn't the best thing to do to understand the basics and then try to develop our own experience? Make some experiments. Make many to learn and understand the attitude of your favorite cigars and fulfill your desires!. *     *     * About the author Didier Houvenaghel is a Belgian agricultural engineer who spent many years in Cuba studying tropical crops, specializing in black tobacco. His extensive research and knowledge of the tobacco growing and curing process led him to create Nicarao cigars, his own brand of Nicaraguan puros, that were made in partnership with Rocky Patel. Didier is also the author of the book, The Cigar: From Soil to Soul.
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Can you keep cigars in a wine cellar?

byGary Korb

Q:  I am thinking of building a wine cellar. Is it okay for my humidor to be in the cooler temperature and humidity of a wine cellar. I will still keep my stogies in the humidor and keep it properly hydrated.- Richard M. in Nashville, TN A: Absolutely. A lot of cigar smoking wine enthusiasts have made room for their cigars in their wine cellars. You can even buy a combination wine-rack & humidor (see photo). Moreover, in a way, you also answered your own question. For long term aging, cooler temperatures are quite acceptable. As long as you keep the RH in the humidor at a proper level, your cigars will be fine.
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Are bundle cigars worth aging?

byGary Korb

Q. I read somewhere that overruns and seconds need to be aged up to 6 months before they can be a good smoke. The article said that when sticks are not picked as firsts they are bundled up immediately and sold, therefore they do not get aged. Because they are not aged they still contain ammonia or other chemicals that make for a harsh smoke. Is this true? A. Not necessarily. Each manufacturer has their own way of "processing" bundle cigars. Sure, there are some real "dog rockets" out there in the bundle aisles, but remember, even before the decision is made to bundle rather than box the cigar, the tobacco has been cured and aged prior to selection. That said, I don't doubt that a good portion of bundle cigars are not aged after rolling. Even with boxed brands, regardless of price, it doesn't hurt to give them a little extra time in your home humidor. My personal experience has shown that most cigars improve after a few months. Cigars from some of the top manufacturers are not permitted to ship until they're ready. Case in point: The CAO Vision, which was recently held back because the company felt they needed more time. But ordinarily, you should be able to open a box of most any reputable label right out of the store, and they should be ready to smoke. Note that sometimes the boxes have been in aging in the store for several months or more depending on how fast the retailer goes through his inventory. Extra-age your cigars on a "per-cigar" basis - that goes for all cigars. If they taste "green" and bitter, give them at least three months. If they don't improve even a little after that, they were probably no good in the first place. Buying bundles is usually a hedged bet. The experienced buyer knows up-front that some of the cigars will have a tight draw, burn crooked, taste bitter, or all of the above. Moreover, one of the reasons for this is that many bundle cigars are cigars that have been rolled by apprentices who are learning the trade. Kind of makes sense now, doesn't it? Of course, the low price tends to makes up for the majority of cigars in the pack, which can range from "passable" to "excellent." There are also dozens of bundles that are made as firsts. Some of the better ones that come to mind are Flor de Oliva (shown above), Dominique, Cusano M1, and Occidental Reserve. Roly (Puros Indios), General Honduran Bundles, and Rocky Patel Factory Seconds are other good selections that are "true" seconds. If you stick with bundles from the better manufacturers you'll probably fare much better and won't have to extra-age them very long, if at all. There are countless good quality bundles out there to be had, but you've got be willing to experiment. As noted in the introduction to Perelman's Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars, "The best cigar you will ever smoke might be the next one you try."
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Mixing cigars in your humidor

byGary Korb

Q.  Can different cigar brands be kept in the same humidor? My friends say is not good because you'll mix the blends.- Frank A. in New York City A. Some fanatical cigar enthusiasts take umbrage to mixing different brands, blends, wrappers, etc. in their humidors, because the tobaccos will "marry" and change the bouquet, hence the flavor, of their cigars. I've kept my cigars mixed in the same humidors for years and have never found this to be the case - and I remove the cellos from most of my cigars. Plus, I've talked to many other experienced cigar smokers who concur. I do tend to keep all the cigars from a particular box together for organizational purposes, not segregational. If you're even the least bit concerned about this, you may just want to keep the cellos on all of your cigars. The only "no-no" would be to mix in scented or flavored cigars like ACID, Tatiana, and flavours by CAO , for example, since they will affect the aroma and taste of your "traditional" cigars.
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91

H Upmann 1844 Reserve

How can I rehydrate my dry cigars?

byGary Korb

Q:  I'm new to the cigar game.  I agree with you that it's a hobby, so, I've purchased fairly expensive cigars that I would consider dry. I've set up one humidor with enough humidifiers to keep the RH at at least 85%.  When can I expect them to be less dry?  Is this a pipe-dream (pun intended)?Thanks,Steve N. in Whitefish, MT A:  First of all, you don't normally want your humidity too high, and I wouldn't recommend it be as high as 85% for re-hydrating either. Cigars must be re-hydrated SLOWLY, which makes the procedure a matter of patience. You might also want to let the RH get down closer to the normal 70% range first. Once you've established that, keep the cigars away from from the humidifier; you don't want them too close to the source. Check on them week-to-week, each week putting them a little closer to the humidifier. Or, if you have another humidor, put them in there with the other cigars, preferably between two rows. Being surrounded by fresh cigars, they will regain their moisture slowly and more evenly. Depending on how dry they are it could take at least a month, but if they haven't lost their "bouquet" from being overly dry yet, they should maintain their character, and nothing will be lost.
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Should flavored cigars be stored separately?

byGary Korb

Q:  I know that Acid cigars must be stored separately from other brands of cigars because of the strong botanicals and oils used to create them, but how about other flavored cigars such as Drew Estate's Isla del Sol and Java or CAO flavours' Eileen's Dream and Moontrance, etc.?- William R. in North Garden, VA A:  Yes. Flavored cigars like CAO flavours, Tatiana Classic (shown) and Tatiana Mocha for example, as well as herbal/botanical-infused varieties like ACID, should be kept in a separate humidor or other humidified container to avoid the aromas from being picked up by your non-flavored cigars.The only exception would be a tubo or a tin in which the flavored cigars are sealed. However, the nose knows, so if you detect a strong aroma coming from a flavored tubo or tin, keep them separated, too.
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87

Jameson Black Label

86

Rocky Patel Cuban Blend

To wrap or not to wrap? (Should you keep cigars in their cello wrappers or take them off?)

byGary Korb

That really is the question. So here's the 411 on cellophane wrappers: Being the 100% natural product they are, ideally, cigars should not be kept wrapped in cellophane, although some may subscribe to the belief that it makes no difference. This is true if you smoke through your cigars quickly. Some brands do come boxed naked, but most cigars are packaged in cello wrappers mainly to protect the wrappers from damage and nothing more. The rule of thumb is, if you have a good quality humidor that keeps the environment at a relative 65-70% humidity and about 63-68 degrees temperature, your cigars can be safely stored without the cello wrappers. This allows them to "breathe" and age properly. If you often take cigars out with you, leave the cello on, but it's always good to store a few without the cello so they can mellow out. This is also a good way to "test" whether the unwrapped cigars taste better (but give them at least a month to six weeks before smoking). You can also try putting some of your "take-out" smokes in the humidor with the cello wrapper "open" at the end which will allow some air to circulate through them. When storing your cigars without the wrappers, be sure you carefully remove the cello so you don't tear the wrapper leaf and gently rotate your cigars to a different part of the humidor every few weeks, too.
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What is causing my mold problem?

byGary Korb

Q: I have what appears to be a type of mold that seems to be growing on the underside of the lid on my humidor. There is no moisture source except the regular humidifier that came with the unit and it is not under the area the mold seem to be forming. It is almost the color if the cedar. I thought I had cleaned it out once before by sanding, scraping and using a light bleach solution to wipe the area. It comes off easy enough as a fine powder and the cigars are not affected as yet. Is there a way to permanently remove this or do I need to eliminate it every few months? The humidor seems to be at a constant 70 degrees and 70% humidity and I am using the proper solution and not distilled or tap water. - Bill L. in Illinois A: You say the mold in question is a light brown and that it comes off easily when brushed, and that it's not affecting the cigars. It could be some sort of plume, or bloom, but it would likely also be on a few of the cigars, too. If it keeps coming back every few months, I'm not sure what it is, since it sounds like you treated it properly the first time. It could be some kind of mineral trace elements that are coming from the humidifier itself. Your hygrometer and thermometer may be reading lower than the actual temp/RH, but that's a guess on my part. If they were both high, particularly the temp, that could cause plume. In the meantime, I suggest you try the light sanding again. Don't use bleach this time. Instead, clean the newly exposed area with your 50/50 solution. Then, lower the temp to 65 degrees if you can, and lighten up on the RH, too. Get it down closer to 66%. Let me know what happens over a period of three weeks.If that doesn't solve the problem, I would consider changing the humidifier altogether, since it could turn out to be the source of the problem.I also encourage other readers to leave comments and express their thoughts on this.
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Got cigars? (But no humidor?)

byGary Korb

Q.  What is the best way to store a box of cigars without a humidor?Thanks,J. Hatley  A. The most common solution is to use a plastic,Tupperware-type container that would keep the cigars fresh. This is often referred to as a "Tupperdor." Get a container large enough to hold at least one box of cigars, and keep the cigars "as-is" inside their factory box. A small humidifier can be placed inside the Tupperdor to maintain some humidity. (Some experts suggest dampening the bottom of the box with distilled water to get some extra moisture in the Tupperdor.) Since these containers are so air-tight, it helps to open it once a week for an hour to let some fresh air circulate. One the other hand, if you plan on smoking through the box of cigars rather quickly, say, within a month, just keep the cigars in their box, in a cool, dark space, and it wouldn't hurt to put the box inside a large, sealable plastic bag just for insurance against drying out. Under those conditions, they should last about a month in their factory box with little or no problems.
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Rotating your cigars

byGary Korb

Q. How often should I rotate the cigars in my humidor? - B. Conner in Orlando, FL A. The general rule is usually every two to three months. The main reason for this is that the cigars on the bottom of the humidor don't get as much humidity as those at the top, which are normally closer to the humidifier. By "rotating" them up on a regular basis, they will get a more equal amount of exposure. Another thing that will help with a more equitable distribution of moisture is to arrange your cigars with more space between them. They don't all have to be laid out perfectly in rows like in the factory box. Although the latter may be more aesthetically appealing and maximize your humidor space, arranging the cigars so that some are lying on others at an angle is perfectly acceptable. Moreover, sometimes it's easier to remove a cigar that's raised up a bit, rather than having to pry it up with your finger, which can tear the foot or wrapper if you're not careful. Some experts also suggest using a humidifier under the lid, plus a jar-type humidifier with gel crystals on the bottom. This combination may sacrifice a little humidor space, but helps circulate moist air more evenly throughout the entire box.
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Do flavored cigars lose their flavor over time?

byGary Korb

Q. I know that most cigars improve over time by aging for a year or longer. But what about flavored cigars - specifically Isla del Sol? Will they lose their flavor if aged over long periods?Thanks!- Doug in Olathe, CO A. Good question. Like any other premium handmade cigar, they will mellow somewhat. Only you can tell the difference as you smoke them over time. However, I went right to the source for you on this one: "They will NEVER loose flavor - period."  - Jonathan Drew (Founder, Drew Estate Cigars) How's that for service?
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The 411 on Boveda Humidipaks

byGary Korb

By Gary Korb You've seen them inside cigar boxes made by many of the leading manufacturers; those little packets filled with some kind of squishy substance that are supposed to keep the cigars fresh. The items in question are called Bóveda Humidipaks. Pronounced Boa-va-dah, not Bo-vee-dah,  they're made by Humidipak, Inc. in Wyzata, Minnesota. Although the company makes humidification devices for several other industries, the packs made expressly for premium cigars have the Boveda imprint on them. Boveda's claim to fame is their exclusive "two-way humidity control technology" which has been designed specifically for desktop humidors. And since many cigar smokers prefer a specific RH% (Relative Humidity) in their humidors, the packs come in levels of 65, 69, 72 and 75 percent. They also make humidor seasoning and hygrometer calibration kits that are very effective. So what is that squishy stuff inside the bag? It's a specially prepared, saturated solution of pure water and natural salt. This saturated solution is contained within a water-vapor permeable “reverse osmosis” membrane. Once placed inside your desktop humidor, the packet will maintain the predetermined level of relative humidity shown on the packet by releasing or absorbing purified water-vapor (as needed) through the membrane.Because tobacco is hydroscopic, it has the characteristic to readily draw and expel moisture from its surrounding environment. This is also why, without proper humidification, it's difficult to maintain the natural oils and sugars contained within the tobaccos. What the pack does is continually respond and adjust to the outside temperature and climate by either adding or removing humidity - as needed - to maintain a predetermined level of relative humidity in your humidor. By maintaining an ideal and constant relative humidity, your cigars won't lose or gain any moisture. Rather, their moisture content can be maintained at your "ideal" moisture level almost indefinitely. One of the most often asked questions is how long the packs will last. First, there is a major difference between the Humidipak you get in your box of Arturo Fuente cigars, for example, and the packs that are sold over the counter. On average, the factory-inserted packs will last about one month, whereas the store-bought packs are much thicker and will remain effective for at least two months  The best way to tell when they’re spent is to feel them. When the packet starts to feel a little crunchy, the solution is beginning to dry-up and crystallize. Once the solution has completely exhausted all of its moisture, the packet will feel stiff. Another thing to keep in mind is, just because one packet is used for the factory box, doesn't mean you only need one for your humidor. One packet is usually good for 25 cigars. The bigger the box, the more packs you need. For a complete chart on how many packs are necessary to keep your cigars fresh in your particular humidor, click here. Another question is whether it's safe to lay a Boveda pack directly on top of your cigars. The answer is yes. Since each pack emits only clean, purified water, and will only emit the precise amount of water-vapor, the packs can be placed directly in contact with your cigars without ever becoming over-humidified. Rule of thumb: Never place your cigars in your humidor until it has been properly seasoned. If you don't season your humidor, chances are your cigars will never stabilize properly, and may eventually become kindling. The humidor's wood, most often Spanish cedar, and the cigars must be in harmony. Otherwise they will steal moisture from each other until the two are in balance. Without proper pre-seasoning, this will cause your cigars to lose their oils and sugars, thereby limiting their ability to improve by long-term aging. Boveda also makes a One-Step Seasoning Kit which is regulated at 84% RH. It's a much simpler way to season a new humidor than dealing with distilled water and sponges or shot glasses, etc. As with the humidity packs, first you have to predetermine how many packs you'll need to season your humidor based on its dimensions or cigar capacity. On average, two Seasoning packs are required for every 50 cigars. Finally, you want to make sure your hygrometer is giving you the most accurate reading. For this purpose, Humidipak also makes a Boveda hygrometer One-Step Calibration Kit. I have used this myself and can attest to the fact that it really works. Basically, it's a zip-lock bag with a small 75.5% Humidipak inside. Simply place your hygrometer (analog or digital) in the bag, seal it up, and let it sit for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature. If your hygrometer is accurate, it will read on or close to 75%. If not, then you'll know by how much your hygrometer is off, and can compensate for that amount whenever you check your humidor's humidity level. While some cigar smokers prefer to continue using more "standard" methods for humidifying their cigars, seasoning their humidors and calibrating their hygrometers, I say, to each his own. The standard green foam and newer crystal-based and gel humidifiers will most likely continue to be the preferred form of humidification for many cigar aficionados. But for those seeking a much neater, cleaner, and environmentally safe method, Boveda seems to offer some of the best solutions. (_[ca]___{{{ Some content in this article was sourced directly from Humidipak.com.
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How long will a sealed box of cigars remain fresh without humidification?

byGary Korb

Q:  How long can you keep a sealed box of cigars fresh, before they will go bad?- David A. (U.S. Navy) A:  If they're kept in a properly humidified environment, indefinitely. If not, about 30 days before they will begin to dry out. Another 10-15, and you're pushing it. Two months, and you could be staring at almost certain death. Once premium handmade cigars have attained a very dry state, there's only a slight chance they can be re-humidified. That's because when tobaccos dry out they lose most of their natural oils. As a result, even if they can be resurrected, they will probably have lost their flavor.If you keep them in a cool, dark space, that will help, but it's the humidity that you really need. The only other solution outside of buying a humidor, would be to store the box in a Tupperware-type container with a small humidification device.And one final word of advice: DO NOT store the boxes in the bathroom.
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86

JM's Dominican

90

Padilla Crianza

What can I use to store my cigars instead of a humidor?

byGary Korb

Q:  Whats a good method for keeping your cigars fresh if you do not have a humidor?- Louie (city/state not avail.) A:  You can use a Tupperware container (a/k/a a "Tupperdor") with a small piece of sponge dampened with distilled water, or a standard humidifier inside. The latter is a better way to go since you can affix the humidifier to the top of the lid as you would in a real humidor. You might want to get an hygrometer, too, since the humidity can build up very quickly in a sealed container. Keep it out of any direct sun or lamplight, too.
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What's the best method for restoring dry cigars?

byGary Korb

This is a tricky topic because if your cigars are too dried out there may be no hope. However, it can't hurt to try, right? That caveat aside, here goes, but you will need to be patient as this process can take weeks or even months: Put the cigars in a humidor or other sealable container with a humidifier that hasn't been re-charged lately. Let them rest in there for a few days so the cigars absorb what little humidity remains. Then, only partially fill the humidifier, letting the cigars rest again for about a week. Then fully re-charge humidifier. The idea here is to allow slow absorption of moisture, preventing the cigars from getting too much humidity too soon. If you shock the cigars by adding too much moisture at once they can actually burst--the last thing you want to do with really pricey cigars. This can take several weeks more than a month. Remember, be patient. If you have a very large humidor or cabinet-style humidor, start by placing the cigars a good distance from the humidifying device and every 5-7 days, move them a little closer to the humidifying device. This could take up to six weeks, so again, patience is key. Before you light up, make sure the restored-cigars have a little "spring" to them like a fresh cigars should be. A dry cigar will only burn hot and the flavor bitter tasting.
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81

Alec Bradley Family Blend

Can you ruin your humidor by putting an unfinished cigar in it?

byGary Korb

Q: The other day I was smoking a cigar and didn't have time to finish it. I let it go out naturally and left it in the tray overnight. The next day I trimmed off the ash back to unburned tobacco. I put the cigar back in my humidor. Well, now my humidor has a whacky smell and I am regretting this decision. Is the humidor ruined, as well as the sticks?- John T. in Colorado A: Believe it or not, I've actually been waiting for someone to come along with this problem. Even though you were smart enough to cut the cigar back behind the ash, unfortunately, the strong tarry aromas left in the remaining tobacco leaked out and soured the aroma of your humidor.That said, it doesn't mean all's lost. I assume that by now you've removed the cigar. If most or all of your cigars are still in cellos, they shouldn't have been too badly affected. For those that aren't they should eventually come back. I might be a good idea to collect some Spanish cedar blocks from some cigar boxes and spread them around the humidor. The idea is that over time the odor of the cedar will help eventually eliminate the rancid tobacco smell in there now. Moreover, the natural aroma from the oils in the tobaccos of your cigars as they age should outweigh the "whacky smell" but it might take some time.If your cigars are in cellos, it might even help to unwrap the top row and let them emit their natural aromas. But hold-off on that until you've noticed the odor has significantly subsided. I would even venture that if you smoked one of your other cigars now, it might not be all that bad once it's been lit.  That's about all I can say at this point. Perhaps one of our readers can shed some additional light on this by leaving a comment. In the meantime, I wish you luck and I have a good feeling it will return to normal. Be patient, and next time you want to save an unfinished cigar, just leave it out. There should be enough moisture in the cigar to keep it supple overnight.
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What is the average life expectancy of a humidity pack?

byGary Korb

Q: I am an avid fan of CAO Gold Double Coronas and I smoke, on average, one every two days. Using the box the cigars came in, will one of those humidification packets last the full forty days it takes to finish my supply?- Lester M. in Mauk, GA A: On average the pack you get in your cigar box from the retailer will last about a month. The Boveda packs you get when you by them individually or by the box are noticeably thicker and have about 3X more solution in them. They will last up to 90 days. The way to tell they’re spent is to feel them. When the packet starts to feel a little crunchy, the crystals are beginning to dry-up. The packet will feel stiff after the crystals have exhausted all of their moisture.By day 30, if the cigars have some good spring in them when you pinch them, they should survive long enough for you to finish the box. Just to be safe, you might want to pick up a couple of Boveda 69% humidity packs (shown), for back-up.Finally, one method you can try when using the humidity packs in a factory box, is to place the pack between the two rows of cigars. This ensures that the bottom row will also get their fair share of humidity.
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91

Padilla Reserva

86

Sancho Panza

Should cigars in glass tubos be removed before being placed in my humidor?

byGary Korb

Q:  I just bought a box of Torano Reserva Selecta Torpedo Maduro cigars, and since they are sealed in glass tubes, I was wondering if the storage requirements for them would be any different than cello wrapped cigars. Do the glass tubes allow humidity in?- Richard H. in Houston, TX A:  Yes, cigars in glass tubos will respond to the conditions in the box and remain fresh just as they would in cellos. However, there are many cigar smokers who either remove the cigars from the tubes entirely or leave them in with only the caps removed. The latter is a good option if you find that your tubos seem a little dry, as it will permit moist air to flow into the tube. Remember, the main reason for the tubes, other than keeping the cigars fresh, is for protection, and they're mighty handy when you want to take a cigar with you and don't want to bring a travel humidor or a baggie. I tend to remove almost all my cigars from their cellos and tubes, but that's me. The best thing to do is test. Take one cigar out of its tube, and after about a month, compare it to one that has remained in a tube, and see if there's any difference in the suppleness of the cigars and the flavor.
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Sucking the life out of a cigar

byGary Korb

Q. If you put cigars in the newest craze, The Food Saver, will they keep, and if so, for how long? (This is a vacuum pack machine that claims to maintain freshness a lot longer). Will they still be required to store in a humidor? Also, can you freeze cigars, and if so, for how long, and will it affect the quality?- Larry E. A. Re vacuum-packing, they will probably last quite a long time in that state, but I wouldn't bet they'll be much good over a long period of time unless maybe you did keep them in the humidor. But then what would be the point? Vacuum packing means that they're devoid of air, which cigars need, too. So, I wouldn't recommend it unless you do plan to freeze them immediately afterwards, or they may eventually dry out. At least that's my theory. But I sure would be curious to find out how long they will keep. ;-) As far as freezing cigars goes, frankly, I'm not in favor of it under any circumstances. Some may disagree, but I don't think they're ever the same afterwards. If you do freeze your cigars, the key to thawing them is having a little patience. Put them in the fridge for at least one day after freezing to let them "warm down" in there. Then, remove them to rest at room temp out of the humidor for at least another day. One final note: Never store cigars in the fridge, even though it may seem like a good idea. The humidity level is too low and they will dry out. Q&A Update: Since originally posting this Q&A on the Food Saver, I received the following response, which I think you'll find very interesting. - GK I once ran out of room in my humidor and used the Food Saver on 10 coronas. I knew I had made a mistake instantly. As the air left the bag, I watched 10 cigars go from a 44 to a 34 in ring gauge. I couldn't stop the machine from pulling air out of the bag. They were in the bag for about 45 days. For the hell of it, I took them out of the bag when room became available in the humi, threw them in and left them. They gain a unique Food Saver pressed look when you do it. There were very hard creases in the wrappers. To my amazement, they sprung back, but eventually the wrappers split from the loss of humidity they suffered and from the extreme contraction and expansion. My general feeling is that this should never be done again, and I wouldn't want any one else to find out the hard way. I should have noticed that it was called a "food" saver. - Tom McCormick
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RE Tubos: Open or closed?

byGary Korb

Q. I have several Romeo y Julieta and Partagas as well as maybe 25 or 30 different Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars that are either in cedar-lined aluminum tubes or glass tubes. I took the Cubans out of their tubes when I put them in my larger humidor, but left the Fuente OpusX cigars in the glass tubes with the end plug/piece removed (it is a smaller count humidor that has ONLY Fuente OpusX cigars in it.)  Is this a good way of storing or not?  Thanks for your advice, as I have heard both sides of the argument. - Rick A. Yes, it is. I get this question a lot. I'm a "traditionalist," in that, I remove the cello wrappers and the cigars from their tubes, depending, before I put them in my humidor - most of them, anyway. For the pricey stuff, especially brands like Fuente OpusX , Davidoff, Hemingway, Padron 1964 & 1926 Anniversary, Gurkha Legend, etc. I think it's better to leave them in the cellos, and if they're tubos, at least open the end so some additional air-flow gets in. In the case of cellos, some smokers prefer to clip the cello up to the edge of the foot, which serves the same purpose. It's a good way to protect the wrapper leaves if, when reaching for a cigar, the other cigars get jostled while moving others out of the way; especially if the cigar you want is near the bottom of the humidor. I also leave the cello wrappers, tubes, etc. on a few cigars for travel purposes. It's just a little extra insurance should the cigars be exposed to extreme temps or bounce around during the trip.
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Humidors and high temperatures

byGary Korb

Q. With the 90 degree weather, the temp in my humidor is climbing near 80 degrees. What can I do to get it back down to where it belongs?- Greg in Jessup, PA A. It's generally a good idea to keep your humidor in the coolest spot in the house and avoid any direct sun or lamp light. This will help a lot. High temps and humidity can cause beetle larvae to hatch, which is the most important reason you want to keep the temperature down. Under these same conditions, you may also see "plume" or "bloom" appearring on the wrappers of some of your cigars. If this happens, note that it's a harmless, white powdery substance that can easily be wiped off with your finger. If you can't get the temp closer to 70-degrees, then try to lower your humidity to help balance the system. Most importantly, make sure you check your cigars daily until you have the situation under control.
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Why cigars are not veggies

byGary Korb

Q. What are the pros and cons to keeping your cigars in the refrigerator? How long will the cigars keep? Should I keep them in the Veggie Crisper for humidity? Am I ruining my cigars?- Jacques V. A. This is a good question because it would seem to make perfect sense to store cigars in the refrigerator, right? Well, not exactly. Because the temperature of the fridge is so cold, the humidity is also very low, even in the veggie bin. You would have to get the RH up to at least 68%, which the standard home refrigerator just isn't designed to do. So, even though it sounds plausible, if you store your cigars in the fridge, sooner or later they'll dry out completely - and most likely sooner than later. The best place for good cigars is in a properly seasoned and well-maintained humidor.
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87

Excalibur

Should bundle cigars be treated the same as boxed premiums?

byGary Korb

Q. If I purchase a bundle of cigars, are they ready to smoke, or do they need to be stored in a humidor first?- Ed R. A. For the most part, bundle cigars are premium cigars. Just like the premium handmade boxed brands, they're ready to smoke and should be kept in a humidor. You may choose to let them "settle" in the humidor for a short time before you light-up, but it's not necessary. BTW, they will also improve with age over time in the humidor. The main difference is many bundles are overruns or seconds like GH2 by Gran Habano or Rocky Patel Factory Originals, for example. Yet there are dozens of bundles out there that are made as "firsts," like Flor de Oliva, Primos by Los Blancos, and Occidental to name a few. Some premium bundles today can cost as much as some box brands. As you would with any cigar purchase, when buying bundle cigars look for cigar that offers good quality, flavor and value.
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Ionic Cigars

byGary Korb

I have a large cabinet style humidor. It is tall enough so that there are significant humidity and temperature differences between the top and the bottom shelves. I have had mold problems in the lower parts and dryness problems in the upper parts of the humidor. To remedy the situation I tried to circulate the air by placing a small fan inside but that raised the temperature because of the fan motor. I ended up having more frequent mold problems. Out of desperation I bought one of those mini ionic breeze air cleaners to remove mold spores from the air inside the humidor. It seems to work great because I haven't had any mold since I got it no matter how warm it gets inside and my cigars are staying perfectly humidified. Though it smells like ozone in the humidor it hasn't yet affected the way my cigars taste. I'm wondering if you know if anyone else has used an ionic breeze in a humidor before, and if its a good idea to continue using it. Thanks you for any answers you can give.- Aaron RichertFirst, make sure you are using only a high quality distilled water in your cabinet humidor. Mold should not be forming, unless the water source is not pure, or your humidity system is in some way contaminated.  Ionic purifiers emit only a trace amount of ozone. But in a small, closed space (like a cabinet humidor) it may indeed be noticeable. I would not consider any amount of ozone produced by such a means to produce any problem for the cigars or the smoker. However, the Ionic Breeze is really not designed for a space that small, so the amount of ions and ozone may be more than needed. I would suggest the Csonka Desk Fresh, which works on the same principle, but because of design would be a better choice. Finally, if you are not noticing any variation in the taste of the cigar smoke, this might be a viable solution to his problem. FYI, I may someday do some tests in my personal walk in humidor in my home, which is much larger (about 6' x 6' x 8' tall)... but because of the size, I would probably use the more powerful Csonka Original, set on low, to see what I notice.- Michael Chunko, Csonka Worldwide
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Cigars in the fridge?

byGary Korb

Q. One of my friends stores his cigars in the refrigerator. I had heard this would dry them out. Am I right?- C. Thompson A. The answer to your question is YES, you are right. It may seem logical to some cigar smokers to store their cigars where they keep their salad fixin's. But it's not. Please tell your friend to take his cigars out of the fridge immediately.
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92

La Gloria Cubana Serie R

90

CAO Gold Maduro

Can a humidor be saved from a little mildew?

byGary Korb

Q. Can a small humidor, one that holds 25 to 50 cigars, be refurbished if it has a spot of mildew growth where the humidifier was placed before? I found a couple of these and I would like to fix it if possible. - Randy in Clovis, CA A. Get some very fine grit sandpaper (150 will do), and gently sand off the stains. Vacuum or wipe out the sawdust with a clean cloth dampened with distilled water and/or 50/50 solution. If you plan to place a new humidifier in the same spot, just leave the sanded area alone. This will also help give you a better bond. If not, gently wipe the area with 50/50 solution. The polyglycol in the mix will help prevent any mold from coming back. You might want to do this anyway; just make sure it’s dry before you reapply a new unit.
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Long term cigar aging: boxed or loose?

byGary Korb

Q. I recently purchased a footlocker humidor which can hold 400 cigars (16 boxes). I want to store 7 boxes of high quality cigars. My question is, which is best for aging cigars, keeping them in the original boxes placed in the humidor, or stored loose in the humidor? I have another humidor which holds 100 of my daily smokes which I have loose.- Ray L. A. Good question. First, you need to ask yourself how long you plan on letting those 7 boxes sit. If we're talking really long term, I would suggest removing the shrink wrap from the boxes and mark the date you received them with a Sharpie pen. This will help you know how long they've been sitting in the humidor when you're ready to open them. Moreover, they will age regardless of whether you remove the cigars or not, since the boxes and cellos are porous. Also note that the longer they remain in their cellos, I'm talking years now, the more "yellowed" the inside of the cello will become. This is not a bad thing; it's an indicator that the cigar's been in there a long time. The other way to go would be to remove all the cigars from their cellos, put them back in the open boxes "cabinet style" and let them do their thing until you're ready to smoke them. Or, just do half the work: Open and remove the cellos from a few boxes and in 6 months, one year, whatever, see how they compare to a box in which the cigars remained intact.
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89

Java Mint

High humidity jitters

byGary Korb

Q. My humidity was around 80% for a spell (because I failed to pay attention) and a few cigars seemed softer than usual. Have I ruined them or will they be OK after I have brought the humidity back to where it should be? Maybe I should let them sit outside humidor before smoking? Will it affect the taste?- Joseph H. Thiel A. Your instincts are correct. Remove the humidifier until it settles down to about 68%RH; that’s where I like it. (Even 66% is perfectly acceptable.) By over-humidifying them you will not necessarily ruin them, but you do invite the opportunity for them to form bloom - a white powdery substance that appears on the wrapper - or worse, mold, especially if your humidor's temperature rises, too. Another result of high humidity is that the cigars may "explode" and crack the wrappers as the cigar begins to burn and build up heat. As an alternative to removing the humidifier, you can just leave the humidor top open for a anywhere from a few hours to a day. I’ve had to do this a few times, myself. That will give the cigars a chance to get some drier air flow, while also allowing the humidifier to expel some of its excess moisture. Just don’t forget to close it before you go to sleep. I’ve done that, too. ;-) As far as high humidity affecting the taste goes, usually when cigars have dried-out considerably, they can be refreshed, but they may also lose their bouquet. Since your problem is on the other side of the humidity issue, your cigars should be fine once you get them back to a "normal" standard.
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Reltive humidity and airtight travel cases

byGary Korb

Q. I purchased a 5-cigar Cigar Caddy which provides an airtight and waterproof environment for the cigars. I placed 4 cigars in the Caddy without adding water to the humidifier, and the humidity was 85% after 24 hours. I added one DryMistat stick (after adding distilled water) and the humidity remained at 85%. I even noticed a wet spot on my last cigar. I then tested using a DryMistat stick (still dry, without adding water) and the humidity came down to 73%. Is this common for airtight containers like Cigar Caddy, because there is no airflow to let some of the humidity from the cigars escape?- Hector in Gilbertsville, PA A.  I'm not sure if I can explain exactly why the humidity dropped from 85% to 73% based on your test, other than the fact that the dry DryMistat stick in the second test was dry. But I can tell you this: Airtight, waterproof cigar cases like the large capacity Cigar Caddy and X-Treme brand travel humidors (shown) have a pressure release valve. The valve permits air to escape due to pressure build-up when the case is left closed for long periods of time. So, if yours doesn't have this feature, I'm not surprised the RH got so high, so fast. Coincidentally, the X-Treme 5-cigar travel humidor and X-Treme 10 cigar travel humidor do not have a release valve, and the same goes for the same size Cigar Caddy models. (BTW, both brands are virtually identical.) Since you've found a way to get the humidity to a more "normal" level, my advice would be to use the Caddy "as-is" until you eventually find it necessary to add water.
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What's wrong with this picture?

byGary Korb

Q. I keep my cigars (all Flor de Oliva) in their cellophane wrappers. However, a few are unwrapped, and after a couple of days the wrapper leaves begin to peel away. The hygrometer shows 80% humidity. What is going wrong?- Terry B. in Florida A. What's going wrong is your humidity is WAY too high. You need to get it down - and fast. Assuming your hygrometer is pretty accurate, remove the humidifier and check the hygrometer daily until the RH gets down to about 68%. High humidity can cause all sorts of problems, among them being, wrappers unraveling and very squishy cigars. Let the humidifier dry out while you're reducing the humidity, too. Once you replace it, keep an eye on the hygrometer reading. You may have to go through the process again until you reach a more acceptable RH level. Finally, make sure you don't overfill the humidifier when it's time to do so. Sometimes you only need a little distilled water (or solution) to bring the RH back to the desired level.
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Can too much humidity cause tunneling?

byGary Korb

Q. I have been smoking cigars for a couple years now and I have had a constant problem. Its not a huge problem, more of an annoyance. I have a desktop humidor and a homemade Tupperdor, both in which I use a propylene glycol solution so I don't have to mess with humidity. The thing is the majority of my cigars tend to be a little moist. About 1/4 to 1/2-way through I will have to relight because the middle stays lit but the outside isn't. I usually will have to do this 2-4 times. Is this common with the PG solution? Maybe I smoke them to slow, or is this normal for all cigars? It seems to be worse with very dense cigars like the RP Vintage. I have some Perdomo Cuban Parejo which are quite large and I have to take them out a couple of days ahead to even smoke. I would do this to all but I don't know which I want to smoke from day to day. It's the same with my desktop, which holds about 25 singles, or my Tupperdor which usually has about 12 boxes at any given time. Any suggestions would be appreciated.- Phillip A. A. First, using only Polyglycol solution in your humidors is not your problem. In fact, if you have humidifiers with green florist's foam, you may want to start cutting your polyglycol by mixing a capful of solution in about a cup (6 oz.) of distilled water. Green oasis foam units can clog over time by using only 50/50 solution. Secondly, Tupperdors are so airtight that unless you leave a corner cracked or find some way to get some air circulation in there, they can build up a lot of moisture, They don't breathe like wood does. If your cigars are predominantly "soft" when you pinch them, that's a sign right there that you have too much moisture in the cigars. Even if they feel OK, check your hygrometer; it could be off. I like to keep the RH at an average of 68%. It seems to keep enough moisture in the cigars without them being too dry. About relighting: Certainly you shouldn't have to relight so much. I'm sure you've noticed by now that many cigars become bitter after one or more relights. Not very pleasant is it? And there goes your money, right into the trash can. Also, the thickness of the cigar isn't necessarily the problem; sometimes it's the thickness of the wrapper, like that of some Maduros and Sun Growns, which are thicker by nature. Normally, you should "hit" on the cigar about once a minute to keep it going. What you seem to have is a tunneling problem. The fast-burning binder is keeping the fillers going, while the wrapper gets left behind. Make sure when you light-up that you're getting a good, even red glow all the way across the foot before you start puffing. If it's only mostly red, don't trust the cigar to fill in the rest. Be sure the edge is lit by blowing on it until you're sure it's burning properly. If the tunneling effect continues, the wrappers may have too much moisture, and if they're thick, it's only worsening the problem. Instead of a few days, try just leaving the cigar out of the humidor for a few hours before you light it up and see if you get better results.
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92

7-20-4

Naked Cigar Theory

byGary Korb

Q. I recently tried a Kristoff Criollo Torpedo and was completely blown away. I'm eager to buy a box but since they are not in cello I'm worried about storing them. I've read that 'naked' cigars in a humidor can pick up some spiciness from the cedar. I think I've experienced that when I did a taste test of naked vs. cello of the same brand. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to keep the fresh-from-the-box-flavor for cigars not wrapped in cello? - Richard H. in Houston, TX A. Regarding this cedar spiciness issue, I have never heard of this - unless you're referring to another type of cedar. Most humidors use Spanish cedar because premium cigars are aged in Spanish cedar-lined aging rooms, not to mention that most cigar boxes are made from same. Perhaps when you did your test, you just got an odd bitter stick? You could place all the cigars in a Ziploc bag and keep that in your cigar humidor. Or, if your humidor is big enough to hold it, just put the factory box in there. Outside of that, I say give them a chance to age as-is. I believe that over time you will taste a marked improvement.
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Resting your cigars

byGary Korb

Q. I always read the customer comments before buying any cigar, but I continue to be puzzled by one recurring topic: "this cigar must 'rest' for a week/month/6 months/a year before it's any good."  So the question is, why would manufacturers release cigars before they are any good?- Curt G. in Lolo, MT A. It's not that they need time to rest before they're "any good;" it's just that premium cigars are temperamental (sort of), and seem to smoke and taste better once they've been removed from their box and placed in a properly controlled environment for a little while. Sometimes even just a few days will do it. The main thing is, the longer most premium handmades are allowed to "age" the more the tobaccos "marry" which tend to bring out some of the better qualities of the blend. Try it yourself and compare a fresh out-of-a-new-box cigar with one from the same box that's been sitting in your humidor for a few weeks. Then months, etc. You'll taste the difference. Finally, in most cases, the better factories will not ship until the cigars are "ready." Their cigars tend to be much more consistent, too. However some just need a little more time. Remember, you're dealing with an all-natural, handmade product, and even though the blend is identical in every cigar for that particular box, the leaves may respond differently during the curing and aging process.
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89

Padron

90

Kristoff Criollo

How to prevent the Cigar Jar "Rain Forest" Effect

byGary Korb

Q. I purchased a cigar jar humidor. I set it up as instructed and added distilled water hoping the cigar jar will do its thing. A few days later mold was all over my cigars and in my jar. I assume my jar is no longer usable since their is mold content within it. Now I have about 6 cigars that are completely ruined as well.- Brian G. A. Sorry to read about your ruined cigars. Cigar jar humidors make excellent storage devices,  however they have one major drawback. The jar is a essentially an hermetically-sealed unit. Once closed, no air can get in. If the humidity becomes too high, plus the temperature, which can be raised by placing the jar in the path of sun or lamp light, you get what I call "the rain forest effect," and the cigars will most certainly be ruined. As a "traditionalist," I prefer the standard, wooden, cedar-lined cigar humidor. So, if you are using the "jar" method, I recommend that you close the lid, but not seal it. If you check your cigars regularly - as you should - and they feel like they're drying out, that's the time to seal it. With regard to the humidifier, you don't need to dampen it very much, or even at all, depending on the freshness of the cigars. Moreover, I would recommend purchasing a digital hygro-thermometer to monitor the climate in the jar, which will help avoid ruining your cigars in the future. I also recommend placing a few cedar wood spacers found in the factory cigar boxes. They will absorb some of the excess moisture while adding a little cedar aging room ambiance to the jar. Finally, the good news is the jar can be disinfected by thoroughly washing it out with dishwashing liquid and be used again. Depending on the type of jar you have, you may even be able to put it in the dishwasher.  (For more info on this product, please use click here, instead of using the link below.)
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Hope for some dried-out cigars

byGary Korb

Q. I have aquired some [dried-out] cigars that haven't been maintained in a proper humidor. Can they be re-hydrated, or are they not worth bothering with? If so, what procedure do you recommend?- Ron R. A. It depends on how dried-out they are. If they're hard like sticks (real sticks, lol), they might be better off as kindling. If there is any life to them at all, say, a modicum of "spring" in them when lightly pinched at the foot, there may be hope. To answer this question in further detail, please see the article, What's the best method for restoring dry cigars? If you are able to revive them, keep one thing in mind: chances are they will have lost the original "bouquet" (to use a wine term), they would have had, had they been stored under proper aging conditions.
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Tips for preventing mold on your cigars

byGary Korb

Q. What's the best way to keep my cigars from developing mold?- Tommy J. in Memphis, TN A. It all starts with keeping your temperature and humidity properly regulated. I've learned over the years that my cigars have fared better at lower temperature and humidity, with the latter averaging closer to 67% RH. Once you let the temperature and/or the RH climb significantly above 70, you open the door to potential problems. Secondly, make sure you only use distilled water or polyglycol-based charging solution in your humidifier. If you don't you not only risk getting mold, but mineral deposits may form on the unit, too. Tap water is definitely a no-no. It also helps when you have good air circulation between the cigars in your humidor. If you have all of your cigars laid out in neat rows in your humidor like they are in a factory box, try to space them out a bit. I had a friend who would put the cigars in his humidor in no particular order. It wasn't pretty, but because they were lying in the box at various angles, he had better air circulation. Open your humidor for about 15 minutes once a week to help give your cigars a breath of fresh air, too. This is especially important if you keep your cigars in a mason jar type humidor or a sealed plastic container. Finally, if what you perceive as mold is more like a white powdery substance on your cigars, don't panic - yet. Chances are it's "plume" or "bloom," which is a naturally occurring process caused by an accumulation of oils in the wrapper leaf. It usually occurs at higher temps and humidity ranges, is virtually harmless, and easily brushes off with your finger. If it's not plume, but actually mold, it will leave a stain on the wrapper leaf and you'll have to trash the stick.
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91

Avo Classic

Salt and distilled water as a humidifier?

byGary Korb

Q. As a dish of moist salt can be used to calibrate a hygometer, can it be used as a humidifier? For example, a container of salt that has no chemical additives, wet with distilled water. It would be easy to check to see if it needed more water, right?- Joseph V. A. Good question, and it would appear to make sense, too, but the scenario you describe would require way too much maintenance. Moreover, the evaporating salt may cause your cigars to take on a salty taste. I've had a few cigars that had a salty taste (for reasons unknown) and it ruined my enjoyment of the cigar. Stick to using salt & distilled water only for testing your hygrometer, and use a reliable humidifier for keeping your cigars fresh.
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Dry storage problem

byGary Korb

Q. I am finding that the wrapper of my cigars have been unwrapping after purchase and sitting in my humidor for a few weeks. Any ideas why? I was wondering if the 5-7 shipping was maybe the problem. My humidor is around 62% on an average.- Jerome B. in Pomona, CA A. I think the problem may lie more with your humidor than with the delivery truck. Even under the most extreme conditions, which could include an overheated or bone-chilling truck, the cigars are still pretty much insulated. Assuming your hygrometer is accurate, even within a few %, 62% is much too low to keep your cigars fresh. IOW, they're drying out and that could be what's causing your cigars to unwrap. And since you said it takes a few weeks, that's further evidence that the humidor is not doing its job. Get the humidity up to about 70%, and try to keep it at an average of around 68%. (I found that works best for me.). 65% is about as low a as you'd want to go. The best way to bring back the cigars is by bumping up the humidity slowly. Add some distilled water to your humidifier, but don't completely saturate it. Within 24 hours the RH should rise a couple of points. Keep adding a little water every other day, or until the RH is at about 70%. If the RH does not appear to rise after a few days, then 1) your hygrometer is off; 2) the humidifier is not big enough to handle the capacity, or 3) the humidor has a leak.
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Humidor temperature concerns

byGary Korb

Q. I see hundreds of articles on the accuracy of measuring humidity with digital hygrometers, but nobody ever questions the temperature reading. Are these generally more accurate whem measuring temperature, or should temperature accuracy also be a concern?- Steve in Norwalk, CT A.  Based on my experience, the digital temperature gauges are pretty darn accurate. I've tested enough of them against readings from the thermostat in my house and in my office to state this with confidence. Regarding your concern about humidor temperature in general: A temperature range between 65 and 70 degrees is perfectly acceptable. IMO, premium cigars seem to age better when the humidor conditions are closer to the 65 degree mark with an average RH of about 68%.
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Is is OK to keep cigars in their factory boxes in your humidor?

byGary Korb

Q. I just bought a cabinet humidor. If I store my cigars in their factory boxes, will they receive the proper amount of humidity?- Gene in East Hampton, NY A.  It depends on how long you plan to age them. The key is to make sure all of your cigars receive as equal an amount of humidity as possible.The best way to ensure this, especially for long-term aging, is by keeping the boxes open just enough to allow air flow into them. Tucking a rolled-up business card in the corner of the boxes, or some other small, innoucuous prop will do the trick.
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How long can you age your cigars?

byGary Korb

Q. How long is too long to keep your smokes in the humi? Do they really get better after a few months?- Ray G., Staten Island, NY A. From what I've read, including my own personal experience, as long as the conditions in your humidor are consistently within the "normal" temp/RH range, there is no limit to how long you can age your cigars; and yes, they really do improve with age. The longer they age, the more they tend to "mellow," which is to your advantage if you have purchased cigars that may be a little on the strong side at first. The same goes for cigars that taste a little "young," or bitter upon opening. To prove the point, smoke one cigar from a specific box or more each month, and compare it to the one from the month before. Although it's matter of experimentation and personal preference, three months in your humidor from the date of purchase is a safe bet that the cigars will have "settled" nicely.
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Question of The Month: A "cool idea" for keeping cigars fresh in hot climates?

byGary Korb

Q: I keep reading the "70/70" rule, and variations on it; no higher than 75° or the dreaded beetle appears! In order to preserve the desired and recommended temperature, would the following be even remotely appropriate? A "compact" or counter-height non-defrosting refrigerator (the kind usually found in hotel rooms) in an 85° daytime, 80° nighttime home, set at 70°. It would have to run only occasionally during the day, and even less at night). And yet, because of the particular design of these smaller refrigerators, would not be defrosting itself, and therefore not be dehumidifying the cigars. The 3-4 cubic foot range models look like they would hold at least two humidors. Is this a possibility with the non-defrosting feature preventing dehumidification, or will such a contraption get me thrown out of the New-Cigar-Smokers Society? Your thoughts? - Eric in California A: Cigar smokers rule of thumb: Never put cigars in a refrigerator. Chances are even a non-defrosting unit will suck the humidity out of them, too. The proper RH range for most premium cigars is generally between 65% and 70% RH, and refrigerators tend to have a low average humidity, usually in the neighborhood of 41% to 45% RH. Plus, odors from other foods can sometimes seep into the cigars and affect their flavor. (In your case, the latter would not be a problem.) My advice would be to store the cigars in the coolest darkest space in the house possible during extremely hot weather. Generally speaking, the higher the heat, the lower humidity required. Since it is very dry in California, you still need to maintain enough moisture to keep the cigars at a certain "comfort level." If the temperature goes up over 80° in your humidor and your cigars feel a bit squishy, you've got too much humidity, so it needs to be reduced. If the temperature dips down too low, you will need a little more humidity. About beetles: Beetles usually tend to appear when both the temperature and humidity are too high - like an 80° temp/80% RH scenario. If you should happen to get beetles, freeze the cigars for a day or two, slowly thaw them for one day in the main fridge, then place them back in the humidor. This will insure more beetles never show up. That is really the best use of a refrigerator when it comes to premium cigars. Since you plan on putting the humidors themselves in the fridge, you might be able to pull it off, but only if you can get the temperature in the fridge up into the 60° to 70° range as you mentioned above. You'd also have to make sure the humidor has a good seal, and you'd have to maintain the humidity in the humidor within the 65-70% range. Storing your cigars at temperatures below 60° is very risky unless you know what you're doing. You might actually be better off investing in a "Wineador." It will provide you with the optimum temperature, but you would have to add a humidification device; preferably one with a fan to circulate the air, like a CigarOasis XL. (Last December, CigarAficionado.com had a good forum discussion on using a Wineador that's worth reading.) Keeping your cigars fresh and aging properly is basically a balancing act, and wherever you keep your stash, you need to keep careful tabs on it. At the end of the day, your goal should be keeping the cigars at the "firmness" and/or "freshness" that delivers the best smoke for you. As long as you do that, your cigars will stay fresh and continue to age nicely for years. ~ G.K.
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How long does it take for a cigar to dry out?

byGary Korb

Q. I know it depends on the ambient conditions, but how long can a cigar be left out of the humidor before it loses an "acceptable" amount of humidity?- C.J. in Yardley, PA A. It really depends on where you live, and as you pointed out, the ambient conditions. If you take a cigar out of your humidor and leave it in a room that is especially warm (and dry), or air-conditioned, it could dry out in as little as an hour. But normally it will stay fresh for the better part of the day or even up to 24 hours, depending also on whether you removed the cello wrapper from the cigar. If you're outside and the conditions are very windy, or sunny and hot, a cigar can dry out within a couple of hours. Many golfers have written to me about this happening to their cigars on the course.
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82

Te Amo

87

Romeo Y Julieta 1875

Summertime Bugs

byGary Korb

Q. With the weather being so hot these days, are beetles expected to be a problem? I've never had them, however I now have some humidors in a room that isn't air-conditioned. Are these things that much of a major problem?- Bill W. in PA A. Not really that much. As long as your temp and humidity remain within the recommended levels, 65-75 degrees and 65-70% RH, you should be OK. If you notice the temperature climbing toward the 80-degree mark and your cigars start to feel a little softer than usual, try lowering the humidity by removing the humidifier and let the RH dip closer to 65%. Another solution is to temporarily move the humidors to a cooler spot in the house during the summer months. If you have a well-insulated humidor - one with thick walls - that will help. As always, check your cigars regularly for suppleness and any unusual little pin-holes in the wrappers.
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Why do some cigars unravel?

byGary Korb

This is really a pretty common problem among all cigars except it should happen less with better premiums. Wrappers usually peel for two reasons: Either they were not properly wrapped at the factory in the first place, or the cigar has become dry. In the latter case, the wrapper may not have enough elasticity to cling to the binder. Be careful when you clip the cigar, too. If the wrapper is peeling at the head you can often repair it by just moistening it with your tongue. If the wrapper starts peeling from the lit end, or continues to do so even after you moisten it, you can trash it or remove the wrapper. But smoking a peeling wrapper can get pretty messy and since the wrapper contributes so much to the flavor of the cigar, smoking a cigar without it is not just unattractive, it's just plain yucky.
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90

Gispert

High Temperature Woes

byGary Korb

Q. I live in Phoenix, and temperatures are now getting warmer. I keep my humidors at 70 degrees, however the room temp sometimes gets to 75 or 76. Is the high temp going to be a problem for me?  - Chuck T. A. High temperature problems can be avoided if you do the following:1. Keep your humidor in the coolest place in the house; a dark, cool space is even better.2. Avoid any direct lamp or sunlight over the humidor3. When the temp climbs to 75, try lowering the humidity to around the 65% range, as that will help balance the relationship between temp and relative humidity (RH). What you don't want are high temps and high RH.4. Check several or more of your cigars every couple of days for suppleness. Only add a little distilled water to the humidifier if necessary.5. Rotate your cigars from bottom to top every six weeks or so, and try space them out a little to get some air flow between them.
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Valuable Cigar Care Advice

byGary Korb

I started collecting and storing cigars about 5 years ago. At that time we lived in Hawaii so, no matter what I did, the inside of the humidor got too hot, and eventually it led to the infestation of the infamous and dreaded Lacioderma tobacco worm. Luckily, I caught it early, so I only ruined about 10 cigars, but I was always inspecting my cigars and removing any that looked like it might have a "guest" eating its way out. We eventually moved to Georgia where the temperature and humidity are a bit milder compared to Hawaii (especially if you have air conditioning), and I was storing about 400 cigars in two humidors. One humidor held my "super fine" Fuente Fuente OpusX; Davidoff; Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduros; etc... and the other humidor held about 300 good quality Arturo Fuente cigars, as well as some other really good cigars. Someone gave me a box of less expensive cigars, so I had no choice but to put them in with the other 300, because no way were they sharing space with my OpusX collection. I have an assortment of different sized travel humidors, so I purchased a few of those small cigar-shaped digital hygrometers to carry when I traveled. When I wasn't on the road, I would put these little beauties in my home humidors, and by moving them around, I soon discovered that the RH levels vary quite a bit within the same humidor depending on where the reading was taken. I also noticed that the upper tray was preventing humidity from reaching the lower part of the humidor, so I had "happy" cigars on the tray, but the ones below where screaming for moisture. I finally got rid of the upper trays all together and that helped even things out quite a bit. I also purchased a third humidor to relocate some of my lower priced (but still tasty) cigars like the Arturo Fuente Curly Head, and some cheaper C.A.O.s. I immediately noticed an improvement in my large humidor that was previously holding nearly 350 cigars and was now holding about 200 cigars. The points I'm making are: 1) Get yourself a small digital hygrometer-thermometer that can be moved around your humidor(s) so you can really see what's going on inside.2) When you have too many cigars in one humidor the cigars on the bottom are suffering so at that stage it's usually better to either cut down on the cigars you store or get another humidor.3) Take out your cigars about once every month or two and lay them out on a white sheet and look them over for signs of tobacco worms and proper humidification. When you put them back in (after you've removed any rejects), rearrange them so the ones that were on the bottom are now on top and visa versa.4) Always separate your cigars according to quality and how long you plan to age vs. smoke. I found three humidors to be the magic number for me. One for the Super Premiums I hardly ever smoke. One for your good cigars, and one for your "Joe Blow" cigars. I have found that the less expensive cigars are more prone to Lacioderma infestation, so I smoke those every day. Keep an eye on all your cigars and don't expect the humidor to do all the work. You should be successful in storing cigars and smoking your stash with the confidence that they will be in tip-top shape when you need them. - Gene McCann, Peachtree City, GA.
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Storing cigars in a cabinet cigar humidor

byGary Korb

Q. When you purchase a box of cigars, do you put the box in the humidor and leave it closed, or should you take the cigars out of the box? I have one of those bookcase humidors that can accommodate the box.- Ronald L. A. You can go either way. At the very least, unseal the box. If the cigars come without cello (IOW, "cabinet style"), depending on your humidor's headroom, you can place the entire box, open or closed, in the humidor. Otherwise, if you really need the space, remove the cigars from their factory boxes. The important thing is having the proper humidity & temperature levels and an adequate amount of air flow.
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Using a factory cigar box as a humidor

byGary Korb

Q. I have a small humidor (holds 20), and so when I order another box of cigars I don't have enough room. Is it okay to turn the factory cigar box that the cigars come in into a makeshift humidor, or would I be better off doing something else?- Scott in Iowa A. Turning a factory cigar box into a cigar humidor is fine, especially if it’s one of the better-made wooden boxes. I have two I use in my office as humidors and they work great. The only drawback might be that the factory box would have a tendency to leak more than a standard cigar humidor, so try to use one that has a good seal when it closes. If you can keep the conditions at about 70/70 on average, you're fine.
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How can you tell if a cigar is fresh?

byGary Korb

Cigar wrappers that have a rich, oily sheen show that the cigar has been properly humidified and the leaf is very high quality. But even dull-looking wrappers can be of good quality. One great way to tell if a cigar is really fresh or not is by giving it "the pinch test." Very lightly "pinch" the cigar between your thumb and forefinger. It should feel firm with a little spring to it, not hard. If it feels like a piece of dead wood or if it's particularly soft and spongy in spots, don't buy it.
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89

Acid

86

Nub Habano

Serie 1939

byGary Korb

Country of origin: DOMINICAN REPUBLICRead more about Serie 1939 cigars. A. 65% is actually a good RH to stick with. I doubt is was the moisture that affected the draw on that one cigar, but I've found that with temperatures being higher these days (my humidors in the office and at home are averaging about 73-75 degrees), even at 65% RH, some cigars tend to get a little soft. Note also, that after leaving them out overnight and finding some cigars firmer than others, that just means some cigars were more moist than others. My advice would be to move the humidor to a cooler part of the house, or let the RH drop a couple of more points and see how they fare. That's assuming the temp is 73 degrees or higher.
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Checking humidity

byGary Korb

Q. I would like to know, what is the humidity that I should keep my humidor, and how often should I look at it to check on the humidity?- J. Suarez A.  My so-called, "magic formula," is to keep the RH (relative humidity) at an average of 68% within a temperature range between 65 - 70 degrees. Unless you smoke cigars every day, check the box every two to three days and add distilled water only as needed. Note that if the RH reads somewhere around 65% or lower you may only need to add a squirt of distilled water to get it back up, rather than soaking the entire humidifier, which could lead to too much humidity. In fact, some cigars do quite well at lower RH levels. As long as the cigars are supple when lightly pinched, they should be fine. Eventually, with time and a little cautious experimentation, you'll know exactly how to gauge your humidor's conditions, especially as it becomes more seasoned.
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Bad burning cigars dilemma

byGary Korb

Q. I've only been smoking cigars for maybe 4 months. I'd say I get maybe 1 in 15 that burn correctly throughout. Most either burn too hot and tunnel, or won't stay lit. Sometimes the wrapper/binder will burn too fast then go out so just the filler burns, which will then...you guessed it...tunnel. I've lit them countless ways: matches, colibris, bics, you name it. I've used techniques from CigarAficianado.com, I've even YouTubed it (as sad as that sounds. I've tried humidity in the humidor from 75 to 60 percent trying to figure it out. I admit, it pisses me off when I see someone sitting at one of our windy outdoor bars, light up with a bic once and smoke it 'til their finger tips burn. Any helpful insight you could provide?- Bill (Smokeless in St. Thomas) A. Since you've already tried just about everything even I could think of, it could be due to too many fluctuations in your temp and humidity. I understand that you've been experimenting, which may be more a part of the problem rather than the solution. Try to get the temp down to about 68, and try to get the RH at an average of about 67%. If you can keep those two requisites within +/- 2-3 digits, the cigars should stabilize over about a period of a month. You may have been too eager to smoke the cigars once you got the temp and/or RH where you wanted it. All I can add is this: 1) When you toast the cigar, make sure you have a good burn going on the wrapper. Blow on it several times to make sure the leaf has taken. 2) Try rotating the cigar a revolution or two each time you puff on it. This helps maintain a more even burn, especially outdoors. Finally, you may be drawing too hard or too often on the cigar. If the binder, which naturally burns faster, is too hot, that could be part of your tunneling problem, too.
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90

Joya De Nicaragua Celebracion

84

Alec Bradley American Sun Grown

Cold storage

byGary Korb

Q. Gary I enjoy reading your monthly tips; they are very informative. Your recent tip with regard to heat and humidity got me thinking about an equally vexing problem I encounter in the winter time. Our Minnesota winters are cold and dry. With plenty of TLC I can control the humidity at just about any level, but I struggle with the temperature. No matter where I keep them, the best I can do is about 60-65 degrees. My question: What is the proper humidity level if the cigars are going to be at 60-65 degrees fahrenheit. Thanks. - Jim in Minnesota A. Even with a "normal" temperature range of 65-70 degrees, the humidity should be kept at about 70% avg. In the cigar warehouse with which I'm familiar, the average temperature is kept at around 60 degrees. That may seem a bit nippy, but the humidity is controlled at 70%. If you can keep your cigars’ RH in the 70% range (+/- 2%), your cigars should be fine. If the cigar feels especially cold when you remove it from the humidor, it may help to keep it in your shirt pocket and let it "settle" for a few minutes. If it is too cold, the "shock" of lighting and drawing on it could cause the cigar to puff-up or "burst" at some point.
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Should you keep "tubo" cigars tubed while in your humidor?

byGary Korb

Like cello, tubes are used primarily to protect the cigar. If left unhumidified, they will only keep your cigars fresh for about a week. If you plan on putting them in your humidor, either remove them entirely from the tube or place them in the box with the cap off to allow moist air to circulate into the tube. Leave the cap in the box, too, in case you decide to take the cigar out with you.
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Storing Tubo Cigars

byGary Korb

Q. Should glass tubed cigars be kept in the humidor?- Larry in Ruidoso, NM A. The question is more like, "Can you keep glass tubed cigars in a humidor?" I've covered this tubo storage question in the past, and the answer is "Yes." The cigars will remain humidified in their "packaged" tubo state. However, if you remove the cork and leave the cigar in the tube, the cigar will get more air flow, and the wrapper leaf will remain fully protected.
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Separation anxiety

byGary Korb

Q. I like to smoke a lot of different cigars. I buy samplers and they come with different wrappers. Do I need to separate the different wrappers with cedar strips in my humidor? - Gene in Fremont, California A.  Personally, I don't think it's necessary. However, some cigar smokers are extremely finicky, and believe that by separating the Maduros from the Connecticut Shades, the Cameroons from the Corojos, yadda-yadda-yadda, the cigars will better maintain the character of their respective blends. (See my recent blog, "Cigars and the 'marrying' thing.") That said, the cedar stips will add a little extra "aging room bouquet" to the mix, so this practice can't hurt, and if you have the time to do it, go for it. However, depending on how and where you place the strips to separate your cigars, they may just be one more thing you have to move out of the way to get to them.
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What's the best way to travel with cigars on a long vacation?

byGary Korb

Q.  I have a few questions about traveling and cigars. Soon I will be taking a cruise with stops in Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. First, I will take a 15 cigar travel case with me, but over the course of 12 days I doubt that will hold me long as we will have our own private deck where I can partake. Each day we will be able to tour the city, but I was wondering if I would be able to find good cigar stores in the major cities we will be stopping in, or should I simply take a lot more cigars?  If I take a lot more cigars how should I handle them in my baggage?  Any other ideas you might have concerning long-term travel would be greatly appreciated.- Steven in Cassville, MO A.  I would guess that there's someone on the ship (the Concierge, perhaps, or the bartender) who knows where you can acquire good cigars in each port. Otherwise, I would look for a Davidoff cigar store since they're located all over the world, and carry just about everything. Regarding your baggage concerns: Although you already have a case, I would look at the X-treme 30 cigar model (shown). It will hold more than a box-full of cigars, is well-humidified, water proof (in case it falls overboard - LOL), and will last a lifetime. They make models that hold more or less cigars, too.  Re baggage in general. you may want to carry the cigars with you rather than put them in your checked-in baggage, especially if you're flying to your port of departure first. As long as the travel case protects the cigars from serious injury, either way you'll be fine.
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82

Flor De Oliva

Storing ACID Cigars

byGary Korb

Q. I like to smoke a variety of cigars. I've been told I shouldn't keep ACID brand cigars in the same humidor as others. Is that true?- D. Colburn A. Absolutely. ACID cigars are made with herbal and botanical oils that will affect the scent of your "traditional" cigars. Just take a whiff and you'll know what I mean. ;-) Most of the ACID cigar smokers I speak to have a separate humidor for them. If you don't have one, use an empty cigar box or a Tupperware-type container, put a humidifier in it, and you're good to go.
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