Here’s a nifty topic that crosses my path every now and then – rotating cigars in your humidor. According to a poll administered by Cigar Advisor Magazine, 54% of cigar smokers surveyed said they rotate their cigars on a regular basis. So what is “rotating cigars,” and what are its benefits?
Not unlike the way tobacco leaves are rotated on pilons in the cigar factory during fermentation, rotating cigars is simply moving the cigars in the lower rows of your humidor to the upper rows. There are areas in your humidor that can restrict moisture from getting to your primos. And because air circulation is important during the aging process, rotating cigars allows them to get a more equal distribution of moist air. This is also why it helps to leave some space between your cigars. Trying to pack them in tightly like they are in their factory cigar boxes can be detrimental to their survival. There’s no specific method to rotating cigars, as long as you’re able to shift the majority of the sticks from point A to point B.
Here’s how I do it: About every 6-8 weeks, I bring the humidor out to a table where I have plenty of room to spread out. Because I’m kind of a neatnik, I lay the cigars out by row on either paper towels or wax paper. The latter is better because wax paper won’t leave any lint on the cigars. Noting which cigars were taken from the top row, I begin placing them back in the humidor. Sometimes I replace them by size, but mixing them up can also help create more air flow around the cigars.
One hitch is, if you happen to have a high-capacity humidor that’s well-stocked, it can take a while before you get through all of them. So, sometimes I enlist the help of my younger son, and he actually enjoys it because he
says they remind him of Lincoln Logs. The other hitch is, if you remove the cellos from your cigars, you have to be careful. I’ve damaged several good sticks during the process over the years, so now I keep the cellos on my most expensive cigars.
Although it’s still a good idea to rotate your cigars on a regular basis, if you can get the air circulating in your humidor 24/7 you may not have to rotate them as often. Some cigar smokers actually add small computer fans to their humidors to help circulate the air. However, Cigar Oasis, a company that makes electronic humidifiers, includes fans in all of their models.
Many aspects of enjoying premium cigars have to do with patience, and though rotating your cigars may be a bit time-consuming, as the saying goes, “The end justifies the means.”
As we already know, the best place to store your cigars is in a properly maintained humidor. However, there are some cigar humidors, like cabinet style humidors, et. al. that are big enough to accommodate entire boxes of cigars. One of the most often asked questions about this type of storage is whether the humidity from the humidor will reach the cigars in their factory boxes.
If the conditions are right, cigar box storage is easy. Cigars that are kept in their factory boxes will stay fresh up to a month on average, even after opening. By placing the entire box in your humidor the cigars will remain fresh indefinitely, just as they would if you removed the cigars, but it depends on how you plan to store the boxes, too. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you are storing your cigars for the long haul and that your humidor keeps pretty stable “ideal” conditions.
By keeping the cigar boxes sealed with their outer cello on them, this is not much different from cigar box storage in a humidified warehouse or a cigar store humidor; the cigars should be fine. However, it’s better to remove the outer cello from the box, which will allow more humidified air to seep into the box. Moreover, cracking the lid – in other words, lifting it an inch or so – will allow even more humidified air in, and it is recommended that you do this every so often. You can use any number of small objects to prop the lid open. Anything from an extra cigar cutter to a cedar spacer block, even a rolled up business card will do. You can keep the lid propped up for as long as you deem necessary. 24 hours is usually plenty of time.
Of course, removing the lid entirely permits the most air flow, and this practice is also quite popular with many cigar smokers who have cabinet type humidors.
Finally, cardboard boxes are packed tighter than wooden “cabinet” style boxes in which the cigars themselves are also not protected by cello. Wooden boxes are also preferred because they’re made from Spanish cedar, thereby augmenting the positive effect Spanish cedar has on aging cigars.
OPERATOR: Hello, Cigar Order Hotline. How may I help you?
CALLER: I recently ordered a couple of boxes of cigars from both Famous Smoke Shop and CigarAuctioneer, and I noticed that neither order shipped with any type of humidifying device. I’m new to the world of cigars, but of course I only want to smoke fresh cigars and I’ve heard that cigars can dry out in a couple of hours, let alone the week or so it takes to ship to me in California. So why shouldn’t I worry? Or should I?
OPERATOR: When you say “humidifying device,” are you referring to the humidipaks that some online cigar stores add to their packaging?
OPERATOR: First, let me say that Famous Smoke Shop does more to ensure your cigars are properly packed than any other retailer in the industry. Plus, more manufacturers have been including Boveda humidipaks in their factory boxes. Arturo Fuente was the first company to do this, so depending on what cigars are in your order, they may already have a humidipak.
Now, here’s really why you shouldn’t worry: Unless you leave them under a heat lamp, it takes more than a few hours for premium cigars to dry out. Actually, you’d be surprised how resilient cigars can be. I spoke to a customer recently who said he found a cigar in a tuxedo he’d worn to a wedding almost a year ago and the cigar was fine. Note that under normal conditions, cigars will stay fresh in their factory boxes for up to a month. But if I may ask you a question: Were the cigars fresh and supple when you opened the boxes?
OPERATOR: Then you really don’t have anything to worry about, now do you?
CALLER: I suppose not.
OPERATOR: I would also suggest after your cigars arrive that you move them into your humidor and let them rest for about 3 days to settle. Whether they were a little too dry or too damp when they arrived it will help. You may find they will smoke and taste better, too. Enjoy all those fresh cigars!
Cigars are, by nature, delicate objects. They are a hand-made product, and one made from a delicate plant. It’s one of the reasons most premium cigars are wrapped in cellophane; it protects the wrapper leaf and helps maintain moisture during shipping. Today I’m going to address some issues that surround shipping cigars, and resting cigars after shipment to ensure the optimal smoking experience. If you’re like most cigar smokers and order cigars online, the question is: Will the cigars be fresh when they arrive? They should be, since cigars can survive almost a month in their boxes or bundles under normal conditions.
The other question is, should you smoke one of your newly-arrived cigars right away? Sure, but it might be better to give your new arrivals a chance to “settle.” Most cigars are, indeed, ready to smoke right out of their factory packaging. But whether you bought them online or at a local cigar store, handmade cigars tend to taste and burn better after at least a few days in your home cigar humidor.
Honestly, I’ve never really understood why cigars seem to taste better after a little nap time in the humi. Maybe it’s just psychological, but they do, and many cigar smokers agree. That said, it’s the “burn better” aspect, whereby, resting cigars may have a more noticeable effect. It might be that some extra moisture accrued in the cigars during shipping. If that’s so, the cigars may burn irregularly. Giving them a chance to “breathe” in a space where they’re not so tightly packed appears to help. Moreover, the cedar in your humidor absorbs some of that extra moisture.
So, the next time you open a fresh box of cigars, give ‘em a break. They’ve traveled a long way to get to you, and resting cigars a little before lighting-up will do both of you some good.