Should I Age My
As a general rule, most cigars need some time to age. Many of
the higher end cigar manufacturers take care of this process for you
by aging the cigars before they're released for retail sale.
However, some cigars come fresh from the rolling table to your door
within a matter of weeks! If you enjoy one of these brands, the best
thing to do is to let the cigars "age" in a charged and calibrated
humidor for 6-12 months before enjoying them. This allows the cigars
to "rest" and rid themselves of any offensive gases or odors which
may have built up in the cigar during the rolling process. Over
time, you may notice "plumes" or whitish spots appearing on your
cigars. Don't panic! This is a natural part of the aging process as
oils in the tobacco leaves used to make the cigar are released by
the aging and rise to the surface of the cigar. You can easily brush
or gently scape these plume crystals off the wrapper of the
Storing Your Cigars
and Charging Your Humidor.
A humidor is a necessity of you enjoy
cigars on a regular basis. In order to properly store a cigar, a
fine balance must be maintained between the humidity and temperature
at which they are stored. Your humidor should maintain a humidity of
between 65-70% humidity with a temperate of 70 degrees Farenheit.
The rule of thumb is 70/70. Your humidor should be lined in cedar
which helps maintain the flavor and aroma of the cigars. A good
humidification system is a must. The best personal humidification
systems on the market are made by Paradigm Systems and come in a
number of sizes to accommodate both large or small humidors. These
humidifiers are very easy to maintain. Another item to consider is a
hygrometer. The hygrometer will allow you to check the humidity
level of your humidor at a glance. If you are using a humidor for
the first time, it's also very important to allow it time to
"charge" . This could take anywhere from a few days to a week or
more depending on the size of your humidor. Simply place your
humidifier and hygrometer in the humidor then periodically check
until the humidity level reaches between 65-70%.
Do I Need a Special
Solution for My Humidifier?How do I Calibrate My Hygrometer?
It is recommended that you use a 50/50
solution of distilled water and propylene glycol (PG), usually
referred to as activator solution. PG is a hydroscopic
substance that absorbs moisture from the environment (like a salt
shaker does in humid weather). The distilled water evaporates
until the ambient humidity approaches 70%. At that point the
PG won't allow any more moisture in the air. Conversely, if
there is too much moisture in the air, the PG solution absorbs the
excess, bringing the system down to 70% as
In order to calibrate your hygrometer, you will
need a Ziplock bag, salt and a small shallow open container, like a
bottle cap. In the shallow container, place about a teaspoon of salt
and add a few drops of water to get it wet. Don�t add too much
water, just enough to get a moist pile of salt. Remember, you
don't want a salt water solution, just damp salt. Place the
container in the bag along with the hygrometer. Close the bag with
some air trapped inside and let it sit. Allow this to
stabilize for at least 6 hours (don't rush it). After it has
stabilized, check the hygrometer reading without opening up the
bag. It should be exactly 75%. If not, you can simply
adjust the reading by turning the dial on the back of the hygrometer
with a small screwdriver, if your hygrometer permits.
How Do I Restore a Dry
Patience is the name of the game when it comes to
restoring cigars that have been dried out due to a lack of
humidification. Time and a slow re-hydrating process are the two
essential elements required to restore the cigars to their original
state. Start by placing the cigars in a sealed box for a few
days to allow them to breathe and adjust to their environment. After
a few days, introduce your humidifier to the environment with a
partially filled humidifier. Let the cigars rest and re-adjust to
the new environment. Repeat this process during the course of the
next few weeks until the cigars are supple to the touch. WARNING:
Remember to be patient! If you introduce the cigars to an
environment with too much humidity (like your already-charged
humidor) you will shock the tobacco and it will cause the cigars to
absorb too much humidity causing the wrappers to burst and you'll
end up with cigars that will never be usable.
Is There a Way to Add
a Flavor to a Cigar?
Sure, with time and a little
ingenuity. Let's say you want to add a slight flavor of vanilla to
your cigars. The best way to accomplish this is to take one cigar
and peel off the wrapper leaves. Add a few drops of vanilla to the
leaves to moisten them then place the leaves in one corner of your
humidor. The other cigars in the humidor will become infused with
the flavor of the vanilla over time. You can use this process with
cognac, peppermint oil, etc. but remember that whatever flavor you
introduce to your humidor will become infused in all the cigars in
What's This?? My
Cigars Have Little Holes!
Uh oh! If you open a box of cigars and
find little holes on them, you've got a tobacco weevil problem! This
happens when the weevil eggs or larva are not cleaned from the
leaves before the cigar is rolled. The best way to deal with this
problem is to immediate isolate the infected cigars. If you can
afford to, throw them away -- if not, place them in your freezer for
at least a two weeks. This will kill any live weevils living in the
cigars and ensure that their eggs do not hatch.
How do I Properly Cut
or "Punch" a cigar?
A sharp cutter is a must if this is
the technique you use to open your cigar. Position the cutter about
3 millimeters from the smoking end of the cigar and rest the tip of
the cigar in contact with the cigar. Using a quick, decisive motion,
slice off the end of the cigar. If you prefer to "punch" a cigar, a
sharp punch is a necessity. Place the cutting end of the punch in
contact with the end of the cigar and gently twist while pushing
down into the tobacco with a firm motion. This will cut out a little
plug of tobacco from the end of the cigar.
How to Properly Light
Smoking a cigar should be an experience full of romance and
enjoyment, and properly lighting a cigar is an important part of
this process. Once you have the end of the cigar either nipped or
punched, the best way to light a cigar is to use a wooden match or
lit sliver of wood. Without allowing the flame to actually
touch the end of the cigar, gently roll the edges of the cigar close
to the flame until it is lit. In time the binder will catch fire and
you'll notice bluish wisps of smoke rising from the end. Continue to
roll the cigar until the entire rim is lit then gently blow on the
end of it. Once the entire end of the cigar has a light grey ash,
softly blow OUT on the cigar to clear any soot and ash. Your cigar
should now be ready to smoke!
How to Properly Smoke
Rule number one: Enjoy it! Savor the moment. Smoking a good
cigar is like drinking a glass of fine wine or vintage Cognac. Pull
the smoke into your mouth and savor its flavor. Take long
draws on the cigar instead of short puffs. This will help ensure
that the cigar burns evenly from end to end. Rolling the cigar in
your fingers as you smoke is another way to help ensure a smooth and
even burn. Eventually you'll have a big head of ash on the end of
the cigar. Don't knock the ash off! Let nature take its course and
allow the head to grow until it's ready to fall off in it's own
time. If you knock the ash head off, you'll end up with a "spike" of
glowing tobacco filler sticking from the end of your
Should My Cigar Have a
Different Flavor from End to End?
As the tobaccos in a cigar heat up,
you'll experience bursts of different flavors as they catch fire.
Wood, leather, spice, pepper... there are myriad of different flavor
experiences you might enjoy while smoking a good cigar.
How Should I
Extinguish my Cigar?
Again, let nature take it's course.
Once a cigar has run its course, it should naturally extinguish
itself. It's poor cigar etiquette to "butt out" a cigar as it will
create an unpleasant odor for everyone around you.