Montefortuna Guide to Cigar Care
Keeping cigars in perfect condition is paramount, specially when treating with high value, Cuban Cigars. In this article we will review and give a few tips on how to keep these cigars in an optimal environment, as well as the potential problems that might arise and how to fix them.
How to Store Cigars
The first thing one should look for, is a decent humidor. There are many offers for humidors which are cheap, but have a good quality-price ratio. However, we can’t stress enough how important it is to purchase a humidor with a decent quality, in which you can create a controlled environment for your cigars. We’re sure you wouldn’t buy a sports car and store it in a cardboard box!
This being said, the perfect conditions to reach are around 70% humidity and 19ºC. You will need to guide yourself through the readings of a humidity monitor (or Hygrometer) if you have a bigger storage space, or the humidor itself if you have more of a smaller setup. However, these values are approximations, and in the very end the real indicator of how well your humidification system is working is the state of your cigars.
What happens otherwise?
What will you see if it is not in optimal conditions?
In case it’s too dry, cigars will smoke in an uneven manner, exceedingly fast and become more brittle, leading to a higher probability of breaking. On the other hand, if humidity is too high cigars can have a bitter taste, may be harder to smoke and ultimately generate mold, which we will discuss in further detail.
When it comes to rectifying the state of cigars, it is a lot easier rehumidifying them than drying them out. In the first case, by adding them to your humidor, and leaving them for a relatively long amount of time (as long as there are not obvious defects in the wrapper), will make them regain their original state slowly but steadily. On the contrary, if a cigar is excessively humid, removing the excess water evenly from the cigars becomes a challenge. The end result is them losing their shape and becoming virtually unsmokable.
Two Great Cigar Problems
When storing your cigars in a humidor, if the correct conditions are not met, there can be more urging problems that a dry/humid stick. Here are two of the most common, which if not stopped in time can decimate ones collection!
We’ve all seen mold in food that has expired, or just because of environments with high humidity. When placing mold under a microscope, you can clearly see the spores, which are the main reason for concern: they can spread the mold from one cigar to another.
It is generally believed that mold tends to appear when the relative humidity of a humidor is above 70%, so hovering around this level or slightly lower can be a good way to prevent it’s appearance. This is why it’s important to check one’s Hygrometer frequently, and make sure that there are no peaks of humidity (there are some great apps, which let you monitor this on an hourly basis).
Another key point in avoiding the appearance of mold is using distilled water, instead of regular tap water. The main reason here is that we can’t control the content of tap water, may it be minerals which can affect the humidifying system, or the spores themselves with mold that can create an infection.
So, you have found a cigar with mold in your humidor, what now?
The first and most important measure here, is that if you find mold on even one cigar, you must check all other sticks in your humidor to correctly evaluate the situation. Once the moldy cigars have been isolated, one must assess if there is no way of cleaning the mold from them (in which case they must be immediately thrown away), or have just isolated spots, and can be cleaned with a brush, and some connoisseurs even recommend applying alcohol in the affected areas.
Once the threat has been neutralized, it is recommended to completely dry out the humidor, thus killing all the spores, and let it dry out between one and three days. Once this time is over, rehumidify the humidor, and only reintroduce cigars once it has reached the desired humidity and temperature conditions.
Tobacco Beetles can be identified by a black powder or pinholes throughout cigars. They are introduced in the Tobacco by the female beetles during the production process as larvae. The main reason for them to hatch is the humidor maintaining a high temperature (24-25ºC) for a period of time of over a day more or less.
In case you see them in your humidor, they can be eliminated by freezing the infected cigars for at least 2 days, and then keeping them in the fridge for another 1-2 days
The Mold vs Plume/Bloom Debate
If you research the main cigar websites and forums, you will see many conversations regarding this subject. We have gone over mold already, but what is Plume? Before we even start explaining the difference, bear in mind that for a number of cigar smokers, Plume does not really exist.
Plume, also called “bloom,” appears as a white dust on the surface and may have a bit of a sparkle. This occurs when the oils within a cigar come to the surface and crystallize. Plume may also appear as a haze on the wrapper. Unlike mold, plume is always white or light gray and tends to cover the entire body. It does not necessarily mean that the cigars have a higher quality, but that they have been aged well.
Different points of view:
As with religion, we can categorize cigar smokers into 3 main groups when it comes to their opinion on Plume:
- The Believers. This group of smokers do believe in the existence of Plume, and usually vouch for having seen it in some of their aged cigars.
- The Agnostics. This group of smokers either consider they don’t have enough information, or that they have found reliable media on forums and such, which prevents them from taking a definitive decision on the subject.
- The Non-Believers. A steadily increasing number of cigar smokers believe that Plume is just a “myth” that has been circulating in the Cigar world, and that has no real validity. In these recent years, studies have been made (although with a relatively small sample, there was great effort put into it), which showed that 100% of the cigars analyzed were actually mold.
The Montefortuna Point of View
At Montefortuna we have learnt that when it comes to Cigars, each smoker has their own opinion which is equally valid and respectable. On our side , we strive to make the quality of our cigars as close to perfect as possible, may it be with detailed humidity control or regular quality checks.
We understand that, when working with the most premium Cuban Cigars, one expects only the best condition. This is aligned with our view at Montefortuna Cigars, were our greatest concern is the quality of our products and our service, offering our clients a great experience.
This is why, for us we are treating everything as if it were Mold. As long as a client asks us to quality check their box, if it has anything on its surface may it be Mold/Plume/Bloom, etc. We will substitute it with an equal box, and find the best solution for our clients.
Feel free to let us know your opinion in the comments!