Whenever I am asked for advice on anything related to the wonderful world of cigars I always think it’s important to sidetrack slightly and take stock of why it is that we like cigars. This article is about giving you some tips on how to choose a cigar humidor, more precisely on how to choose the one that is best for you.
Your choice of a humidor, whether you opt for a traditional all wood affair, a fancy electronic cigar humidor or you're hunting for a discount cigar humidor, your decision should always be informed by your answer to one core question: why is it that you enjoy smoking your cigars.
This is important, because, as I am sure every cigar smoker knows deep in their heart, cigars are not just a habit. What cigar smoking involves is a lifestyle choice, let’s face it they can cost a pretty penny and you can’t even smoke them in many places anymore, and then why would you? Where you chose to smoke your cigar is probably an important part of how you as an individual cigar smoker enjoy most the experience. My point is, cigars are not just a monetary investment, they are also a time investment, and heck I’ll say it, an emotional investment. So, your choice of a cigar humidor will be better made when you keep all these things in mind.
Of all the considerations this is the one that is most intimately linked to your cigar lifestyle choice. The reason being is that you have to ask yourself how many cigars will you be keeping at any one time? Is your collection just to furnish your smoking needs or will you be keeping a larger amount because you are going to have friends over regularly?
Even if your collection is just for you, maybe you want to keep a wide selection of different brands, meaning you need more space. All of this is important to consider because if the cigar humidor is too small, you’ll be forced to cram your cigars together, and cigars, like people, need personal space, otherwise without enough air around each one the flavor will be affected. Now if you buy a humidor that turns out to be too big for the size of your collection, then each cigar stored will be exposed to far too much humidity. The result will be that they will very soon cease to be at their best, and no one wants that.
Remember I said choosing you humidor goes hand in hand with your lifestyle choices? Well, you now need to ask yourself where you enjoy most smoking your cigars. It may be at home, in which case a handsome Cabinet Humidor is just right for keeping your collection of personal favorites close by. Perhaps you also go away a lot on trips or travel for business for periods of several days, in which case you need to have a portable humidor with space for anything between 5 to 40 cigars to take with you.
If you like to keep a supply at the office, but don’t want to install a larger cabinet or end table humidor there, then you could think about a desktop model, where you can keep up to 100 cigars and choose a design that fits your work environment. Back to that lifestyle thing, the humidor should fit with the way you like your surroundings.
Before I talk about the seal on a humidor, a quick word on the importance of correct cigar storage. The received wisdom is that cigars, like fine wines, need to age before they achieve their optimum flavors. Some may need twelve or twenty-four months to taste their best and there are expert cigar smokers who claim that up to five years is needed for certain brands. My point is, whatever the type of cigar collection you want to keep, that humidor needs to be properly sealed so that they remain stored correctly.
To check the seal is good on a humidor, place you’re your hand near the mouth, when it closes you should feel a whoosh of air, which means it has a good seal. If instead you hear just wood knocking on wood the seal is not tight and will let air in, spoiling the controlled environment you want to maintain inside. To further confirm this, put a bank note on the edge and close the lid on it, when the seal is well made, you shouldn’t be able to pull out the bill. Any denomination bill will do of course, a good seal is priceless.
Over time the wood variety that has proved best for the interior lining of humidors is Cedrela Odorata, or as it’s commonly known, Spanish Cedar. Although there are other varieties that can be used none can beat this wood with its insect-repellant resin, ideal for keeping tobacco beetles at bay, and its naturally rot-resistant qualities. Spanish Cedar is an aromatic wood that helps to improve the flavors of tobacco and is also number one at resisting humidity and maintaining temperature, which are the essential properties for keeping the consistent conditions a cigar needs to stay at its best.
Its also traditionally used for making the neck of Spanish Flamenco guitars, not surprising really, I know I hear music when I smoke a well aged cigar.
Since a humidor is all about keeping the optimum conditions for your cigars, you will need a thermometer, to keep an eye on the temperature and a hygrometer, which is a device that measures the humidity levels. Although a humidor with these items built in may seem to cost you more, they are essential and one way or the other you’ll need to get them. Analog or digital, cigar technology has kept with the times and both options will work well, although personally I prefer digital.
On the subject of hardware, I like to point out that even the hinges and the latch on a humidor are important components and their quality, like all other components, will determine the conditions of the cigars kept inside. I guess the operative word here is quality which is why my advice is that whatever your budget, try to always get the best quality humidor you can afford. It is a purchase that deserves careful consideration, the same in fact that you would probably give to the lifestyle you choose.
Carlos D has been enjoying cigars since the law allowed him to purchase them. He’s been a founder member of cigar clubs throughout Europe and the US and advocate of cigar smoker rights. He is also a qualified historian on the art of cigar making and is due to publish soon a history of this admirable craft.