You get home and can’t wait to open up the box and get that first smell of a fresh Monte Cristo #2 or maybe a Cohiba Siglo VI. You called your friends and can’t stop bragging about your come-up on these sticks. Your friends show up, you light up your stogies, and you end up having a memorable night smoking your first set of Cubans. You wake up the next day wondering why your pants are missing and your friend Doug is nowhere to be found. Oh crap, my bad–that’s The Hangover!
Okay smart guy, you just realized that you are in need of a humidor. So should you call the idiot who sold the cigars to you and ask for his advice? Yes, do that! He should know what to do, unless his name is Pablo and you got the cigars in Ensenada, Mexico. In that case, don’t call him–instead call the local police and try to get your money back because Pablo just sold you some fakes! Piece of advice: don’t buy Cuban cigars in Ensenada, Mexico. On a serious note though, you should do your homework and think of a few things prior to purchasing your humidor.
How many cigars did you buy: 25? 50? 75? Let’s assume you purchased 25 sticks. You need to ask yourself, is this a hobby you plan on taking up? If the answer is yes, then play it safe and go with a humidor that fits 50 cigars. The number one reason you want to go with a humidor that fits 50 sticks is because, like anything else on this planet, “we need space to age properly.” The same rule applies to cigars. Give them space John Dappiens.
The next thing you need to figure out is the quality of the humidor–which is extremely crucial because it’s the root of your humidor. It all starts there as far as I’m concerned. When choosing a humidor you can pick veneer or solid wood. Solid wood is usually a lot more expensive because it’s more aesthetic and with the veneer you will always see a lot of name brand designs on there. There is nothing wrong with that, but quality over looks is always something to think about.
A good humidor should also have tight seals. How do you judge a tight seal? Take a crispy dollar bill and try sliding it through. If it slides through like butter, then take it back and return it wherever you purchased it from. That is not a good sign, for obvious reasons.
When you close your lid you should hear a sound like a “SWOOSH.” If you don’t hear anything like that going on, refer to my statement above. “Take it back.” Also, keep in mind that the hinges that control your lid are very important. Brass is usually preferable because they last a long time.
Let’s move on to the Spanish cedar that lines up in your humidor. This cedar compliments the cigar with a great fragrance and it also adds a bit of character to your cigars. Does size matter when it comes to the walls in your humidor? The answer is yes because the thicker the walls are, the better the insulation is.
Moving on to your hydrometer, which is the dial that reads the level of humidity in your humidor. There are two to pick from: either analog or digital. The digital is always a lot more accurate and reliable so you should opt for that if you can afford it.
Once you have your dial setup, you want to know if it works properly. Lets get some humidity in there to test it. You can go with your sponge/foam which is usually found on the ceiling of your lid. The only problem with the foam is that over a period of time, foam can start going bad and become flaky. I have a better solution that is a lot neater and easier to maintain: crystal.
A crystal based humidifier comes in a clear jar that has a gel-like substance and a lid making it sold air-tight. This jar should be checked every two weeks and be filled with distilled water. Let me repeat that again, “distilled water.” I personally use this method and it has kept my cigars fresh for years. I also have learned that it absorbs the distilled water four times better than the foam models. I paid around $7 for the jar and I have to say it was worth every penny.
Okay, so to wrap it up, here are the key factors when purchasing a humidor:
- The amount of cigars you have
- The size of your humidor
- Solid wood vs. veneer
- Tight seals and brass hinges
- The Nike “SWOOSH”
- Thicker walls are always better
- Analog vs. digital hydrometers
- Crystal-based humidifiers vs. foam/sponge
- You get what you pay for
Don’t be cheap. You just paid about $400-$500 on a box of Cubans, so you better take care of your investment.