A Thorough Guide to Cigar Humidors

A Thorough Guide to Cigar Humidors

By Chris Cotonou

Even before one begins amassing a serious collection of Cuban cigars, you ought to really invest in a proper humidor. We’re guessing that our general reader will be thinking, “I already know all about this!” But for beginners, or those of you looking to refresh your memory (or refer to it from time to time) here is a handy guide to the cigar humidor. 

What is a Humidor? 

This is the vault you lock and store your cigars in. Simple, right? Well there’s more to it than that. Each one is made with a specific purpose to preserve and age your cigars, and keep them to an exacting standard and level of humidity. This is so your spoils do not dry out and remain healthy for years to come. 

Aside from a box at home, you will also encounter the term humidor as a reference to a room that serves the same purpose. Cigar stores, for example, have a humidor that is typically a space you can step inside and browse. Inside, you can find anything from cigars to cigarettes and pipe tobacco; and in the past, humidors have been used to preserve and store a variety of non-tobacco products. 

What are the Types of Humidors? 

You will encounter three kinds. The most valuable are crafted from wood, while the other two are acrylic glass or / and metal. Wooden humidors are often made from Spanish cedar or mahogany, the latter of which is favoured because it does not warp or bubble from the humidity, or impact bad aromas on the cigars. Of course, one of the biggest draws to the wooden humidor is how it looks – a traditional, elegant piece of furniture that expresses taste and value. 

Personal Humidor

A happy sight for most cigar smokers is their personal humidor. They will be the bare minimum requirement if you are keeping or ageing cigars. Just imagine ruining that beautiful Cohiba you treated yourself to. Many hold anywhere from 20 to 75, but you can also find examples that go into the hundreds. Remember to store your cigars separately so the flavours and aromas do not imprint on other sticks, and if you find that an issue, many personal humidors come with useful separators that divide your collection in much the same way a jewellery box would. Some of our customers have a personal humidor in their office, or second home, too – ideal for organising different flavours away from each other. Of course, as a piece of desk-furniture, you can indulge in gorgeous wood or metal designs that make the box itself as inviting as the contents. You can also expect to find examples produced by your favourite brands, like this Montecristo Desktop Humidor

Cigar box

Walk-in Humidor

Every notable cigar shop or lounge will have one of these as a core feature, but the cigar aficionado can have one installed at home too. These are rooms designed to maintain a perfect humidity level, often with drawers and desks as features. You can choose to have one built from scratch or adapted to a room. This is the most expensive option. But it’s vital if collecting cigars extends beyond more than a hobby, and is a regular part of your lifestyle or profession. 

Furniture Humidor

The middle-ground between a box and a walk-in humidor. The furniture humidor is a hybrid between, say, a desk or cabinet, and a humidor. Straightforward, no? You can find these as design features in stores or lounges, and they do store a larger number of cigars, but they are largely an aesthetic product to enhance the look of a room, or if space is an issue. As a real working humidor, a standard role is to not leave anything on the surface – so if you are going for a gorgeous desk display, expect the table aspect to take a backseat to your cigars. 

Travel Humidor

Those of us who often go abroad will find comfort in the travel humidor. They are obviously small enough to fit in your luggage, be made with leather, metal – as with the heavy duty Xikar examples in our selection – or as reusable plastic pouches (our EGM travel pouch is especially popular.) There are specific designs to accommodate all kinds of people, including golf caddy humidors, pocket humidors – with usually up to just three cigar slots, and built-in hygrometers – and vehicle humidors, located in the glove-compartments of luxury cars.   

Looking After your Humidor

To ensure your humidor protects your cigars, you will need to show it a similar level of attention. Maintain a constant humidity between 68–72%. Anything above that could lead to the irritating ‘cigar beetle’. It’s also important to keep them in cool, dark spots as light can increase humidity and temperature. 

Keep an eye on the sort of temperature in your environment. If you live in Scotland, for example, winters can be harsh and dry your cigars out. If in Cuba, you will need to ensure that the natural humidity doesn’t affect the hygrometer reading. Your central heating, the house’s age… All of this can have a negative effect, but you should be able to adjust with time and practice. 

Moving the humidor can interrupt stability. Ideally, you will want to leave yours where it is, ensure it is accessible, and replace travel humidors over time. 

The volume of cigars in a humidor must also be balanced, as each stick will soak up humidity. It works the other way, too: an emptier humidor will cause levels to rise. So, account for the amount of cigars that are added or removed. You have just received the new Bolivar Belicosos Finos Reserva Cosecha 2016 – it would be a shame if the flavour spoiled by contact from another stick.

Keep an eye on the seal. A quality humidor should have an air-tight seal to ensure humidity cannot escape or allow air in. If you can find an example with Sureseal technology, this is a more reliable, innovative guarantee against leaks, and many come with warranties. Put it this way, the humidor is only as good as its seal. Before making an expensive purchase, scrutinise the seal to check that it is not broken or at risk of breaking. 

Humidor Parts

More than a simple box, your humidor is made of a number of important parts. 

Dividers – Usually just a piece of wood that separates one cigar from another. Vital to preserve flavour and prevent sticks from touching. 

Hygrometer – This device shows you the humidity levels. If your aesthetic tastes lean more traditional, you will likely have an analog version. Digital hygrometers, like those by Xikar, may not be as beautiful, but will certainly give you a more accurate reading, and require less maintenance over time. 

Lock – To prevent relatives or friends from opening the box and ruining the humidity levels, a key and lock are essential. If you are collecting rare or valuable examples, thieves will want to go into your box too. So, ensure against this by keeping your humidor under lock. 

Trays – Again, like a jewellery box, the humidor will have numerous (or single) trays that layer cigars, and prevent them from touching. Walk-in humidors have this as a key feature. If you have a personal box, and it doesn’t come with trays, only purchase those made from a material that will assist in maintaining your cigars. 

Humidifier – Unsurprisingly, this is where the humidity comes from. You can shop all sorts of humidifiers on the market, but as with the hygrometer, a digital version will do the most accurate job.

This wraps up our handy humidor guide. You will fine sophisticated, tried-and-tested examples on our website, but should you need any advice, please get in touch. We will be happy to explain in more detail. 

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