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Tubo Cigars or Not Tubo?
What advantages are there, if any, to cigars presented in tubos.
Recently, I received an email from a reader asking me how long cigars that come in glass tubos will stay fresh without a humidor. The short answer: About as long as cigars packaged in cello or “cabinet” style (no cello). Tubo cigars may still benefit from a humidor.
Cigars en tubo, as the Spanish say it, tend to cost a little more, but they have their advantages. Like cellos, cigar tubes are used primarily for protecting cigars from the elements, but they also make your cigars easier to carry. Tubos generally come in two varieties: glass and aluminum. The obvious differences: glass tubes allow you to see the cigar you’re buying, whereas metal tubes do not. Glass tubes are often sealed with a cork or similar type plug, whereas metal tubes use a screw-on cap, though in some cases one end will slide into the other. Glass tubes are more likely to break if dropped, whereas metal tubes will, at worst, dent. Both types of tubos will sometimes have a Spanish cedar lining, which helps keep the cigars fresh and maintain their factory aging room aroma.
As far as freshness is concerned, cigars in glass tubes will remain fresh indefinitely as long as 1) the cigar was fresh when placed in the tube, and 2) that your humidor is properly humidified. Some cigar smokers have the impression that a cigar will dry out if left in its tube. It sounds reasonable, but think about it. There are thousands of cigar boxes with glass tubed cigars sitting in factories, warehouses, and cigar stores for months, even years at a time, and just like their celloed cousins, they remain in excellent health.
As for metal tubos, they’re lighter, thinner, and offer essentially the same amount of protection against the elements. Davidoff Cigars have a very cool metal tube they use for many of their cigars. It’s cedar lined, and in lieu of a cap, the top section of the tube slides over the bottom section. Both ends also have a “window” that, when lined-up, exposes the cedar liner and allows air to flow into the tube while the cigar is in your humidor. For traveling purposes, just twist the tubo to cover the opening and you’re set.
Finally, let’s talk storage. If you want your cigars to get the full humidification treatment, simply remove them from their tubes and save the tubo for carrying. A practical method for storing tubed cigars involves removing the cap (or plug) and leaving the cigar in the tube. In this case you get the best of both worlds: more air flow into the tube, while protecting the cigar’s wrapper from being damaged when rummaging through your stash.
Agree? Disagree? Have a better idea? Please leave a comment.