Photo Galery on Margin
What is the best type of humidor?
One of the characteristics of cigars is their
tendency to absorb odours from their surrounding environment.
For this reason, they should be stored in a space that is
neutral and odour-free. Spanish cedar is the material most
often used for the making of cigar boxes. In part, this is
because it has properties akin to the odour of tobacco, and,
in part, it is because the nature of its wood repels lasioderms.
Today, cigar boxes made of synthetic materials are available.
Some judge these to be just as effective as wood. Unlike Perspex,
however, wood possesses a further regulatory property in that
it absorbs water and thus contributes to the stability of
the humidity level.
What kind of humidor should you choose? The answer
will depend above all on your consumption. There are humidors
on the market with a capacity of 50 to 250 loose cigars; but
you can also find much larger units that allow you to store
dozens of cigar boxes, or even more. If you wish to age your
cigars — for, after a few years in the humidor they
loose their greenness and sometimes their bitterness, while
their flavour gains in fullness — it is preferable to
use a type of humidor that allows you to keep your cigars
in the original boxes.
THE DOES AND DON’TS OF KEEPING CIGARS
Temperature and relative humidity are the two
most important factors when it comes to conserving cigars
at their best. If cigars are kept in less than optimum conditions
they can easily spoil beyond repair. (The types of damage
and their consequences are explained below.)
It is generally agreed that ideal conditions
are constituted by a temperature of between 64° and 68°F
and by a level of relative humidity in the area of 70%.
This agreement is not quite unanimous however;
for certain aficionados prefer their cigars a little more
humid, even if this implies that they must be relit more often.
Such smokers maintain humidity at a level of between 75 and
80%. Of course, for other cigar lovers, the opposite is true.
There is no absolute universal rule.
Some smokers trust entirely to their own judgement
when it comes gauging the humidification of their cigars and
do not rely on measuring apparatus. Such smokers will inspect
their humidor regularly, squeezing their cigars to judge their
moisture. A correctly humidified cigar should be elastic and
not brittle. You should be able to squeeze a cigar quite strongly
and have it spring back to its original shape.
How can you be sure that your hygrometer readings
A hygrometer may very well register 75% even
though the actual humidity level is in fact entirely different.
Even an electronic hygrometer can be out by 10% or more. As
a result, you may think that your cigars are stored at the
correct level of relative humidity, whereas, in reality, it
is only 65%.
While not wanting to be unnecessarily alarmist,
if your cigars appear to be altogether too dry, or too soft,
despite the fact that your hygrometer registers 75%, you would
do well to ensure that your instrument is properly calibrated.
There are two ways of calibrating a hygrometer:
The Salt Method
- Fill a soft-drinks bottle cap — or another
suitably small container — with salt
- Moisten the salt with just enough water to
form a paste (but not to dissolve it)
- Place the cap along with the hygrometer in
an air-tight plastic bag
- Seal the bag hermetically, ensuring that you
enclose enough air for circulation between the hygrometer
and the cap to be possible
- Leave the bag somewhere relatively warm for
six to eight hours
- The hygrometer should now read 75% relative
If this is not the case, correct the hygrometer.
If the instrument is not regulable, you will have to compensate
for the difference every time you check the humidity.
The Face Flannel Method
- Soak a face cloth with water
- Wrap the hygrometer in the wet flannel
- After about ten minutes the hygrometer should
register 99% relative humidity.
If it does not, correct the hygrometer. If the
instrument is not regulable, you will have to compensate for
the difference every time you check the humidity.
What happens when conservation parameters are
We have discussed the best conditions in which
to keep cigars. What would happen to them, however, if the
temperature and relative humidity were to differ significantly
from these ideal values?
A temperature of above 68°F is favourable for the proliferation
of lasioderme serricorne, an insect that feeds on tobacco
and is fatal to cigars. There is no way of knowing whether
your cigars contain lasioderme eggs or not; but, just in case
they do, it is preferable to avoid keeping them at above the
If you should observe any 2mm-long, tobacco-coloured
insects, or if you should notice holes appearing in your cigars,
it is probable that lasiodermes have set up home in your humidor.
The insect’s presence is also betrayed by the presence
of tobacco residues or of a fine powder at the bottom of your
humidor or your cigar boxes. If you are in any doubt, tap
your cigars vertically — bottom down. If a fine powder
comes out, then the pest’s presence has been confirmed.
Low temperatures are just as bad for cigars. Below 61°F,
the aging process — slow fermentation — is halted.
Even lower temperatures tend to kill a cigar’s aromatic
potential and can also cause physical damage due to variation
— breaking of the warper.
Humidity variation —
Cigars do not release the fullness of their potential when
the humidity level is too low. Being too dry, it will burn
too quickly, its warper will be inclined to detach itself
and its flavour will be unpleasantly bitter, losing all its
well-rounded fullness. A cigar that has dried out is ruined,
for the oils which lend it all its aroma will have evaporated.
Humidity variation —
A cigar that is too moist will not warm properly and will
burn badly. It will be inclined to go out frequently; it will
not draw properly; and, where the humidity is extreme, mould
will develop on its warper.
Solutions to the problems
In winter, the humidor should be placed in a heated room away
from any direct heat source. In summer, it should be located
somewhere cool or, if necessary, somewhere air-conditioned.
If lasioderms should appear, appropriate steps must be taken
immediately. The first thing to do is to sort those cigars
that are still smokable from those which have been too badly
spoiled and must be disposed of. Freezing is one radical way
to destroy lasioderms in all their various forms — adult,
larval and eggs. Place your cigar boxes in hermetically sealed
bags so as to avoid your cigars being tainted by odours. Evacuate
as much air as possible from the bags before sealing them.
In order to avoid an over-violent thermal shock, place the
contaminated boxes first in a refrigerator for twenty-four
hours before putting them into the freezer for three days.
Finally return them to the refrigerator again for another
You should also proceed to clean out your humidor meticulously,
because it will certainly still contain eggs. Scrub every
part of it carefully with water and fine brushes, paying particular
attention to corners and angles.
Humidity variations —
Check that your sponge is always sufficiently soaked in water.
If you are not able to reach or maintain a minimum level of
70% relative humidity, place a small bowl of demineralised
water in the humidor to enhance the effect of the sponge.
Propylene glycol has a natural propensity to maintain a level
of humidity at 70%, so you may soak your sponge in a mixture
of 50% propylene glycol and 50% distilled water to help maintain
the required level.
Humidity variations —
Should any mould appear, take out all your cigars and give
them a thorough brushing. The same should be done for the
inside of the humidor. Care should be taken to ensure that
the humidor has not acquired a bad smell; air it thoroughly
before replacing the cigars. Do not add any water for the
time being, but add some propylene glycol to help stabilize
the relative humidity.
MAINTAINING YOUR HUMIDOR
Never soak the humidifying sponge in ordinary
tap water as this will favour the advent of unwanted odours
as well as causing calcium to be deposited. You should only
ever use distilled water for the humidification of your humidor.
Inspect your cigars regularly for any trace of
mould or for any sign of parasitic infestation. You should
also subject the interior of the humidor to occasional inspection.
When cigars are being stored loose, it is preferable to rotate
those on top with those underneath from time to time.
Keep an occasional eye on the humidity level
and correct it as required. Use propylene glycol to stabilize
it if necessary.
For more information, don't hesitate to write
Cigar closet equiped with an electronic humidifying
device, fan, tilting racks and display units, lock,
digital hygrometer, anti-UV glass, for professional
use or big consumers.
Dimensions: 24" X 20" X 6'
capacity: 70 to 90 boxes
Suggested price: CHF 3575
Gastronomical large humidor made with
palissander, including 2 sponges, 2 stages, dividers,
1 hygrometer, 2 keys
Dimensions: 17" X 11" X 7.5"
Capacity: 250 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 995
Griffin's personal humidor made with
inlayed maple, including 1 bottle, 1 sponge, 1 divider,
Dimensions: 12" X 10" X 4.5"
Capacity: 50 à 75 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 1175
Zino travel humidor (leather), magnetic
lock, high standard finish
Dimensions: 9" X 9.5" X 2"
Capacity: 10 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 325
Tap your cigar's foot. If it drops some dark tobacco
powder, your vitola is infected.
This is a cigar (tubos) brought back from Cuba, and
which did not received a preventive freezing. Four months
later, at the opening of the tube, bugs were at work,
digging tunnels. Notice the hole in the wrapper and
the tunnels in the foot.
Thick gauge aficionados, be really careful! Since the
use of genetically modified tobacco seeds in certain
areas of the world, a new variety of the tobacco bug
appeared: Lasioderma Gigante. For your
safety, leave alone your favourite double coronas, cañones
or big sticks and come back quickly to smaller cigars.
;-) Oh my... now you can even get counterfeit bugs...
What a life! ;o)
(Yep! You're right: The Shortcut team is not always
serious — by chance!)