Storing Your Cigars

humidor is a specially designed box for holding cigars. It's most often made of Spanish cedar and contains a hygrometer to maintain a constant humidity. A constant and proper humidity is essential to keep cigars from drying out or from being too moist and developing mold. A consistent temperature of 68°-70° F and a relative humidity of 70-72% keep your smokes in perfect shape. Proper storage at the appropriate humidity and temperature is the most critical factor in maintaining the quality of cigars.

For guidelines on how to condition and maintain your humidor, go here.

What you should look for in a good humidor.

Make sure the box is perfectly squared and that all seams fit without gapping - gaps inhibit your humidor's ability to maintain a constant humidity. Unfinished Spanish Cedar is considered to be the best wood for the interior. The lid should close tightly and evenly and with a snug fit. The humidification device should maintain a constant and consistent level of humidity with as little maintenance as possible.

What temperature is best for storage?

The best temperature is 70° F, although slightly cooler storage temperatures are all right as long as you maintain a reasonable relative humidity. There is a difference between stable storage and true aging. Lower temperatures will store your cigars fine, but they won't age. This means they won't mature, mellow, or develop the complex characteristics of well-aged smokes. At temperatures too much below 70° , the blended tobaccos will not "marry"; as a result you won't get the subtle changes in flavor many cigar connoisseurs seek.

Horizontal or vertical; how should I store my cigars?

Even if you're not ready to make the investment for a good humidor, you should still store your cigars horizontally. In a still environment, moist air is very slow to mix with drier air. The air will stabilize eventually, but with frequent opening and closing of whatever container you keep your cigars in, this layering effect could make your cigars burn irregularly. If you store cigars horizontally, you can minimize this effect. You can also minimize this effect by not opening your storage box too often. Standing cigars on their end can cause damage, especially if you stand a cigar on its cap. If you don't have a humidor and are serious about storing and enjoying your cigars, you ought to make the investment. A small humidor doesn't cost much more than a few premium cigars and is well worth the price.

Other ways to store your cigars

As mentioned above, you don't have to have a humidor to store your cigars (though to properly age them, you'll need one). Some smokers use a Tupperware container or even a sealed jar. For short-term storage (not more than a year) such containers work fine as long as you properly maintain the proper temperature and humidity.

While suitable for short-term storage, these containers aren't suitable for aging. The porous nature of wood used in a humidor allows for some seepage and mixing of the inside air. This slow mixing results in what is termed "marrying". This is when the varying qualities of different cigars (filler, wrapper and blend) mix with each other and produce unique tastes. You don't get this effect with a sealed container.