Do you age your cigars after they arrive by mail, or when you get back from the cigar store? A lot of cigar smokers do. The questions are: Is aging your cigars all that necessary? And if you do, does longer aging really matter? We’ll tackle those and more to give you a better understanding of aging, and help you get the most from your premium cigar collection.
Cigar Storage Options from Soup to Nuts
Cigar storage is a topic that comes up at different points in your smoking adventure. Not all new smokers realize the need to properly regulate temperature and humidity levels, often unknowingly creating poor smoking experiences and potentially turning them off to the hobby. Even seasoned cigar smokers often need to re-evaluate their cigar storage options due to an ever-increasing collection and lack of space. Serious hobbyists and collectors often treat storage as a large investment in fine furniture. No matter where you may fall in the spectrum at any given moment, the options to properly store your cigars have never been greater!
Starting from scratch, the new smoker may select a single or handful of cigars at a local store, expecting to keep them in a drawer at home indefinitely. Of course, not everyone is going to smoke cigars regularly, so spending dozens or hundreds of dollars for the bare essentials doesn’t always make sense. In this case, a couple easy and fairly safe solutions come in the form of kitchen storage. A gallon Zip-Lock bag or small Tupperware container make fairly air-tight containers, allowing for a decent environment for up to a handful of smokes. For humidification, look no further than your local shop for a water-pillow, Boveda pack, or even small jar of gel. I would suggest removing most of the gel from the jar if you go that route, but all should provide good enough humidification for a small stash at least short-term – enough to decide if you want to get in to cigars more and buy a humidor. Be sure to keep any of these solutions in a cool and dark place, as close to 70 deg as possible.
Desktop humidors come in all shapes, sizes and sources. Most you find, whether online or at your local shop, are made in China – it’s just the way it is. Luckily, overall quality these days is very good, so you can shop by features and aesthetics alone. The only rule of thumb is to buy twice as large as you think you need, especially since most product descriptions woefully overestimate the storage capacity. Humidification beads are a very reliable and easy source of humidification to use in these small units, and can be found online through several sources. They typically come in 65% or 70% RH, and will maintain your small humidor effortlessly. A hygrometer is also needed, and can be sourced easily for just a few bucks on eBay or a retailer of your choice. Both digital and analog models are available.
Those of us with large collections often outgrow desktop or shelf units, and need a method for storing boxes of cigars. You have the option of moving up to a large cabinet type humidor, although costs go up exponentially at this point, not only because the units cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, but because they need active electronic humidification systems, adding hundreds more to your budget. On the plus side, they do work and display your collection beautifully!
For an alternative that is very inexpensive, works 100% as well as the best cabinets, and is infinitely expandable, look into a “coolerdor.” This is a plastic thermal cooler which has been cleaned and emptied for use as a sealed container. The same rules for auxiliary equipment apply, but now you are down to dozens of dollars for the unit, rather than thousands.
If you do not use air conditioning in your home then your best storage option may be to make a “wineador.”
At the high end of the spectrum comes furniture-grade storage such as coffee tables with glass tops. Such units display hundreds of your favorite cigars, accessories and a few boxes, in drawers and compartments. Many such pieces provide not only great classic room looks, but also exceptional storage possibilities, and make quite the conversation piece.
If your collection includes more than a few boxes, or is of sufficient scale to warrant a small room, you might consider a pre-made or custom cabinet. Cabinets can be tailored to fit any configuration, even including built-in electrical supplies, active humidification, and remote controls. The humidification in cabinets must be what’s known as active, putting out vapor on demand, to regulate the changes from the obviously large doors opening and closing. Some units will feature smaller compartments able to be accessed separately to avoid changing the air in the entire unit every time you need a cigar. The shelf and wood finish combinations are endless, but be warned that these large top-end options are budget breakers for many!