Long considered an interest for well-to-do gentlemen of leisure, cigar smoking (and collecting) has seen a marked increase in interest from US veterans returning home from overseas. My introduction to the world of cigars came from just that place, in Oman. We were traveling to Afghanistan in early 2002 and stopped off for a day while en route. I picked up a bundle of cigars, expecting to pass them out to celebrate the impending birth of my Ranger buddy’s son. Not having regular phone service, we started smoking a celebratory cigar every night, figuring we’d hear the next day once his son was born. Eventually, his son was born, as well as a lifelong hobby and enjoyment in the finer things of life.
Unless you’re buying a cheap”cigar” that come in a 5-pack and is sold at a gas station, you’re buying a more complicated item than the beginning connoisseur may realize. Cigars (and the tobacco within) are sensitive to both temperature and humidity, especially the latter. This can affect the taste, ease of draw of smoke and air through the cigar, and even the cigars structural integrity. Too little humidity can ruin the flavor and cause the wrap to dry and crack, while too much humidity can make the cigar swell and possibly split. The answer is the cigar humidor.
A Humidor is a life-support storage system for your cigars until you’re ready to enjoy it, by maintaining optimal relative-humidity (RH). A few considerations when choosing which one to get.
- Spanish cedar lined interior: Doesn’t impart flavor to the cigar, doesn’t warp with moisture, resistant to tobacco beetles and it smells great.
- Should seal well, not letting precious humidity seep out. You’ll want to stay around 70% RH, +-5%.
- Buy a humidor big enough for your collection to grow. An overstuffed humidor doesn’t allow air to circulate, which leaves some cigars fresh and others stale.
- Electronic versus manual. This applies both to humidity measurement (analog or electronic hygrometer) as well as humidity dispersion (electronic humidifier or the many various passive humidifiers)
If you’re just starting out, don’t worry too much about it. I had an old cigar box that usually had 7-10 cigars in it (individually wrapped) for years before I got a couple serious batches of cigars as a gift and from a trade, along with a humidor (also a gift) that had become a necessity. You can go to your local smoke shop to see if they have one for sale, or browse the many options online. An option like the Mantello humidor found on Amazon is an excellent choice that won’t break the bank at ~$40.