As you find yourself stepping into your favorite local cigar shop, met with the pleasant aroma of fine tobacco smoke, and you wander past the lounging area and business counter, you will inevitably make your way into the humidor. Other than that hand-crafted cigars themselves, no other piece of stogie paraphernalia is more important than a humidor. Whether they be travel-sized vessels that you may use to transport your smokes to the golf course or bachelor party, or they are palatial rooms displaying a variety of cigars that you may not have known to exist, these temples of atmosphere are the very reason that you enjoy recreationally smoking cigars.
All fine cigars begin life as a green, moist tobacco plant’s leaves, growing in a multitude of conditions in a plethora of locales, all imparting their own delicate flavors to the finished product. Once these leaves are harvested, they are aged and dried to a very specific balance of wet-to-dry in order to incorporate even more flavors, and ensure that the finished product will deliver a pleasant experience to the consumer. These leaves are then filled, pressed, and wrapped to complete the stogie itself.
During it’s journey from the fields to your fingertips, nothing is more important to your ability to enjoy a cigar than it’s balance of wet and dry. Cue the humidor.
The reason for the balance is fairly simple. Have you ever tried to create a campfire with extremely wet wood? It is an absolutely deplorable task that will frustrate even the most ardent woodsman. The wet wood will fight you at every flick of the match, and only truly ignites once the fuel has compromised enough of the moisture. Even then you will have an unbelievable amount of smoke as the wetness of the wood meets your fuel fire.
A completely dry log, however, will burn much more quickly and produce much less smoke.
Let’s apply this to cigars. If you were to merely pick the tobacco leaf from the ground, neglect to dry or age it to the correct internal level of moisture, it would be nearly futile to attempt to fill, wrap, and smoke it. The product would be nearly impossible to light, would not stay lit, and would produce obnoxious and impossible to control plumes of smoke.
Now, a stogie that has dried out is not ideal either. Not only will the wrapper be brittle and difficult to maintain, but, like the wood in our analogy, it will burn far too quickly and not produce that wonderful smoke that makes puffing on a cigar so enjoyable and relaxing.
This is where humidors come in. The relative humidity of these vessels or rooms will fluctuate between 68% and 72%, which is ideal for cigar of perfectly balanced moisture. Humidors also protect cigars against the influence of outside flavors by conditioning them within their (usually) Spanish Cedar lined walls. Often times, you will find finer cigars with cedar wraps as well.
One last thing that a humidor can do for you cigars is protect them against tobacco beetles. These pesky pests can hatch within your cigars if the humidity fluctuates too high toward 75%.