Cigars and wine, both appreciated as being some of the finer things in life, also share a rather delicate nature. They both are natural, organic substances, and as such they can go bad and require some measures for this to be avoided. Cigars are very sensitive to moisture and temperature. If left in a semi-dry environment—even just a room with air conditioning running—they can dry out and be ruined in just a day. In overly humid conditions, they are prone to mold and rot. A properly treated cigar felt between the fingers should seem neither brittle nor spongy, just firmly supple.
With a little maintenance, a decent humidor can keep cigars good essentially forever. If you’re reading this, odds are you are already aware that a humidor is a boxlike device that keeps constant humidity (around 73-74%) and temperature (70 degrees) and provides air flow for cigar storage. Without proper storage, a cigar is supposed to stay fresh in its wrapper for close to a month. There are several other methods of attempting to keep cigars good without humidors, but mostly they shouldn’t be trusted beyond a year. This makes a humidor a very appealing device for a cigar aficionado, as cigars, like wine, generally improve with aging. Some cigar enthusiasts even have multiple humidors, to keep each variation separate. Others enjoy carefully co-mingling different cigars to enhance the flavors.
Maintaining a humidor is a very simple task. To start, don’t keep it in an area with direct sunlight or an extremely low or high humidity level, such as a basement or right in front of an air conditioning vent. Prepare a new humidor according to the instructions, and don’t put your cigars in it until it’s fully ready. This is the most time-intensive step, but don’t fret; it’s a onetime deal. After that, you just need to rotate the cigars every 1-3 months to allow steady humidity for each cigar and, if your humidor requires water, renew with distilled water (tap water has some impurities, which could, over time, downgrade the effectiveness of the system).
To a beginner, it can seem like a lot of fuss. But if you appreciate a robust, aromatic cigar enough to keep them in your home, you may as well do it right. The fragile nature of cigars does require careful conditions, and cutting corners with storage can lead to a disappointing experience when you do kick back to light one up. The good news is, with a decent setup and a little TLC, each cigar in your cigar collection can stay good—quite likely improve—until the time you decide to sit back and enjoy it.