Q and A

Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Posts: 1,224Moderator admin
I got an email from someone with some storage and cigar related questions which are questions we get frequently. I thought I would post the dialog here as a resource for others who have similar questions.

Alex:

I have a couple of cigar questions and was hoping you could provide me with your thoughts.

I have a large Daniel Marshall humidor that can hold somewhere between 150 - 200 cigars. I bought it about 20 years ago and it has a Credo humidifier. The Credo came with the humidor and all I have ever done is recharge it with propylene or distilled water. It seems to be having a more and more difficult time keeping the humidity in the 70% range and it got me to wondering if the Credo device has a lifespan and have I exceeded it? I am also wondering whether there is a better method to keep humidity, like the Humi-care humidifier you sell? Or would you recommend that I simply throw in one of the Boveda packets instead?

Second, I am wanting to replenish my cigar stock. My favorite cigar is a montecristo no. 2 but your comments on how Cuban cigars are currently made makes me feel like they are overpriced and really not great quality anymore. I was hoping you could recommend a high-quality cigar from your site that may be a good substitute.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, XXXXXXX

Hi XXXXXXX,

Storage In General

The purpose of a humidor is to replicate the natural tropical environment present in many of the countries were cigars are rolled and made. To do this, it is recommended that humidity is kept in a range between 65% and 72% RH. Most people prefer 70% but each person has different tastes. As a rule, long term aging is performed on the lower end of this scale and cigars ready to smoke closer to 70. You should never be below 65 as it will dry the oils from the tobacco and never above 72 as you run the risk of mold. In terms of temperature, room temperature is best with the ideal being 68 to 74 degrees. In colder environments, the cigars will not mature at the regular rate and in warmer environments, the cigars are susceptible to mold. A lot of this comes down to preference. I like 70 degrees and 68% personally. The most important thing to cigar storage in my opinion is that the environment, at whatever level you like is consistent. Fluctuating humidity and temperature disrupts a cigars natural aging and maturation process. Maintaining consistency is very difficult (especially in the colder months) but can be done with some small investments. Humidor

A humidor requires some seasonal upkeep. The cedar itself absorbs moisture and acts as a pseudo humidification element itself. As such, if the humidor dries, the cedar will start stealing moisture from the humidification element and not get to the cigars. To offset this, a process called seasoning is required. To season a humidor, you first empty it and take a clean fine cloth and wet it with distilled water (to a damp semi wet state) and wipe down all the cedar surfaces on the inside of the humidor. The cedar will absorb the water and you will see it take place as it will dry quickly. You want to repeat the process until the cedar stops absorbing or takes long periods of time to dry showing that the cedar itself is “charged”. After that, you will want to close the lid for 24 hours before reintroducing your cigars. The frequency you need to do this depends on how regularly you fill your humidifier. It is usually seasonal but if the humidifier regularly dries out for long periods of time, it may require more work.

Humidification

There are two units crucial to humidification, your humidifier and your hygrometer. There are a range of types and styles and there are certainly some that are better than others. For the hygrometer, there is an analog version and digital. Not sure which you have but I always suggest a digital unit. The calibration is easy and accurate and the analogs I find simply do not work. When it comes to the digital units, they are all about the same but I prefer ones that also show temperature. The humi-care brand is fantastic. When it comes to the humidifiers, you have two types, active and passive. Passive simply puts out humidity and active will both omit and absorb humidity to maintain a certain level. Older humidifiers rely on a sponge type system. They tend to go bad quickly, especially when using tap water. Newer humidifiers use a gel base which has a longer life span, is less impacted by minerals and impurities and provide some level of active humidification. Then there is bar none the best which is an electric unit. There are many styles but they typically combine a hygrometer (digital read out) and humidifier along with usually a fan component to spread the humidity. They are a set and forget solution as they act like a thermostat where you can set the desired level and it will turn on and off as needed to maintain a consistent environment. Also, for me one of the biggest selling points, is if you are running an electric unit, you don’t need to do the seasonal or occasional seasoning mentioned above. Because it monitors the environment, it keeps the cedar moisture at the desired levels also. It has a water tank that does require occasional refilling which is easy and they also at times have low water indicators in the form or a light and alarm that will notify you when it needs to be refilled which is also nice. The only drawback is that most require a power source. While there are a small handful of battery operated units, most employ a ribbon type cord that can tuck under the seam of the lid of your humidor and plug into an outlet which is both a little aesthetically unappealing and also limits options as to where you want to keep your humidor as it needs to be close to an outlet.

Cigars

I did not mean to bash Cuban cigars. The truth is that Cuba has an unrivaled climate and environment for growing tobacco and they grow the best stuff. It is the process after wards that hurts it. The tobacco is not properly fermented or aged. Also, once it makes it into cigars, the levels in quality control make for a higher percentage of plugged cigars (cigars that don’t draw) vs their non Cuban counterparts. Lastly, because they do not fumigate or freeze their cigars before shipping, there is a higher instance of tobacco beetles. All tobacco has the larva for these insects which eat tobacco. Tobacco must be fumigated or frozen to ensure they don’t hatch. If you have ever seen any of your Cuban cigars with small holes, these are the beetles. They are small (the size of a nat). You can read more on my opinion on the Cuban cigar debate at the following link which is an article I wrote on the matter a few years ago for a newsletter. http://www.cigar.com/catalog/index.asp?a=02032010

If you really like Cubans and want to stay with Cuban cigars, I suggest sticking with the “Edicion Limitada” series. Various lines may have a Limitada edition, but they are more expensive and harder to come by but in my experience, these cigars undergo the longer and more proper aging and fermentation on account of their wrapper leaves. If you are willing/ wanting to venture outside the Cuban market, there are some great alternatives which in my mind provide a similar taste profile with superior construction and quality. The brands I would suggest are:

Pinolero: New in 2012 and made by AJ Fernandez in the old Cuban tradition, this blend in my opinion is most like a solid Cuban cigar. This one for me is the closest in flavor but they do not stock the torpedo size like the No. 2 you like.

Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet: This line is made by AJ Fernandez and has been around since about 2006 and is very Cuban like also. Current inventory on these out there is very spotty as the brand is undergoing a packaging facelift so the old packaging is still out there and discontinued in preparation of the new packaging which will debut this spring but the cigars are the exact same. This line has an identical size to the Montecristo No. 2 but it Is sold out until the new packaging arrives. The other sizes though are great.

Camacho Corojo: This is a solid full bodied line grown with all first generation Cuban corojo seeds. The figurado size is very similar to the monecristo no. 2 in terms of shape. This may cigar is full bodied and may be a little spicier in terms of flavor profile vs Montecristo.

Camacho Corojo Ltd: This is the same as the Camacho Corojo listed above but fuller bodied and richer flavor. Definitely stronger than Montecristo. The 8/22 size will match the No. 2 torpedo size you like.

Camacho Pre Embargo: This one is spendy but a great cigar. Part of the filler is actually Cuban tobacco imported before the Cuban Embargo. It has a lot of the profile people love about the other camachos but in a smoother format.

Sincerely,

Alex Svenson

Comments

  • RainRain Posts: 8,960 ✭✭✭
    Lots of good info Alex.Some of that is already in the 101 section, the search function is a cigar lovers best friend.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    i would love to add to the list of cigars that seem to have a more cuban feel to them:

    DPG Cuban Classic

    Avo XO

    Elogio Serie Habano

    all of those cigars have a bit of the "Sharp Earth" or "twang" that is found in most Cuban tobacco. the flavors are not exactly Cuban but some of the impressions are there and are worth a look.
  • Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat West TNPosts: 4,787 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I was particularly glad for the info on the Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet, which I like a lot, as I was afraid it was being discontinued altogether. Not that the new lines from Sol Cubano aren't good, but (my opinion) the Cuban Cabinet is better.

    Interestingly, I just picked up a Camacho Corojo the other day, haven't tried it yet.
    Thanks for the write-up, good information.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  
Sign In or Register to comment.