Storing a Smoke
Storing one’s cigars needs a little though but the end result is worth the effort
Article by Oscar Udeshi
Is there an optimal way to store cigars? I can surely leave the box on my fireplace? Sure, but you might as well throw them in the fire. Cigars need to be kept at constant temperature and humidity – ideally around 70 per cent humidity – plus or minus a few percentage points.
If they are too dry they become brittle and dry out. When lit, the dry cigar burns too hot and quickly which leaves a harsh, burnt taste. If a cigar is too moist it will be too soft, draw badly and go mouldy.
So I can keep them in a fridge or freezer? No, that is too cold and too dry. They are not popsicles. It is wise though to put recently purchased cigars in the freezer overnight to kill any tobacco weevils. If the cigars are stored in a too warm environment, (over 21 Celsius) larvae can hatch. The tobacco beetle eats and excretes the tobacco and leaves tiny little holes in the cigars. It isn’t always easy to ascertain their presence and one doesn’t always see the fine brown dust, or put another way, the beetle poop. Hunters & Frankau the official UK Habanos cigar importers freeze the new stock coming in for this reason. The cigars should be removed from the freezer and put in the fridge so that the temperature of the cigars is raised gradually to the temperature they will be ultimately stored at.
Wine fridges are all the rage for cigar smokers who have a bigger collection, as they maintain a consistent temperature and humidity. Some may argue that they are too cold, others say the lower temperature aids the ageing process. Whole boxes are best stored in a zip lock bag with Boveda pouches, which are probably the best invention for cigar smokers since sliced bread. Boveda and similar products are pouches that look like American brown sugar packets that regulate the humidity of a sealed container. If the container is more humid than the specified humidity rating of the pouch, the pouch will absorb the humidity, if too dry, they release humidity and have a life span of a few months. They come in a variety of sizes and humidity levels, depending on the preference of the smoker, slightly drier such as 65 or 69 per cent or slightly more humid at 72% or 75 per cent. Cigars removed from the wine fridge should be left a day at room temperature to raise their temperature from the fridge before smoking.
A low cost option for an occasional cigar smoker is to put one’s cigars in a zip lock bag or sealed jar like one used for pickles (preferably without the pickles and pickle juice) with a Boveda pouch. This container should be kept away from the light and ideally at a consistent temperature, so a dark kitchen cupboard will suffice.
A traditional humidor is the prettiest way of storing cigars, and allows a quick overview of what one has, but aren’t particularly air tight. The humidification elements that come with the humidors, especially the green foam filled ones are useless and should be thrown away and Boveda pouches used instead. An old smoker’s tale is to put a sliced apple on aluminium foil inside the humidor. The apple releases its moisture and humidifies the cigars. It also leaves the smell of apple and needs to be removed after a few days before it spoils. The pouches are a lot more practical.
The author is in no way affiliated with Boveda and has received no payment whatsoever. They are just a great product.
Oscar is the founder and owner of Udeshi tailors, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair.