How Do I Age My Cigars?
While it holds a prominent place in popular culture, the cigar is what we would call the antiquated man's smoke of choice. The once booming tobacco industry became a household staple from the moment it was imported from Central America to the European continent by Christopher Columbus. Sadly, the cigar lost most of its popularity during the rise of the cheaper cigarette. Cigars became a rare sight, present only for baby births and bachelor parties. Luckily for tobacco growers around the globe, cigar smoking and collecting has recently had a renaissance. Thanks to the rise of the Hipster movement, there are more tattooed, bearded cigar smokers under thirty than ever. The next step in this forward trend is not only smoking quality cigars, but collecting and aging them.
Making the transition from a casual cigar smoker to serious cigar aficionado is an exciting and involved process. Most of all it is an exercise in delayed gratification. The casual cigar smoker tends to enjoy their cigars at or near the time of purchase, but a true aficionado collects quality cigars in order to age them to the perfect, mellow flavor. The act of aging a cigar to achieve superior flavor requires time, patience, and above all the proper tools.
The cigar market is flooded with a wide range of information about products designed to meet varying needs such as price, size of cigar collection, aging process, and storage space. While this may seem like a great environment for a new cigar collector, the problem many face is deciphering which tools are right for them.
Cigars are made of three different types of tobacco; one type makes up the wrapper, one type is the filler, and another type acts as a binding agent. Because the entire cigar is made of tobacco it needs to be stored differently than cigarettes. Cigarettes (with their paper wrapper and chemically dipped tobacco) can be stored for months if not years in a plastic box. Many beginning collectors make the mistake of believing that cigars can be stored the same way, but this is not the case.
When it comes to storing cigars, it is best to remember the 'Goldilocks' adage: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It is best to keep them in an environment where they won't dry out, which causes the wrapper to crack and the tobacco inside to crumble.
It is also important that the environment is not too warm, as the moist tobacco will begin to degrade. This means that the ideal location for aging cigars is in the cool, damp, and dark. Since the optimal temperature is around 70 degrees depending on the kind of tobacco, cigar aficionados agree that the best form of storage for their collections are cigar coolers.
What Is A Cigar Cooler?
A cigar cooler is an air controlled refrigeration unit that maintains the ideal temperature for maturing cigars. Most cigar coolers have a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees, allowing collectors to store their tobacco at the perfect temperature. This is important to preserve a cigar collection and keep it mold and pest free while the cigars age.
Like its cousin the wine cooler, cigar coolers come in a wide range of sizes and shapes to suit even the biggest cigar collections. They come with both drawers and shelving made of cedar so that the cigars are properly aerated from above and below.
Are There Different Types Of Cigar Coolers?
Yes, there are many different types and sizes of Cigar coolers. The smallest cigar coolers hold about 250 cigars and should have dimensions no smaller than a length of 14 inches by width of 19.5 inches by a height of 19 inches. The largest coolers can be the size of a large refrigerator and can hold as many as 3,000 cigars.
They also have different features that set them apart. The modern cooler will come equipped with the standard LED control screen and Spanish cedar shelving, but after that they may differ. Some models will have shelving, while others will have cedar drawers for keeping particularly pungent cigars separate from the rest of the collection to prevent marrying. Flavored cigars should be kept in drawers, so if you are a fan of the flavored variety make sure to get a cigar cooler with small compartments for each of the different flavors you enjoy.
One of the biggest features that separate basic cigar coolers from the deluxe models is humidor capability. A humidor by itself is an unrefrigerated cedar box that is designed to store cigars at the perfect humidity. This is a good storage option, but it does not monitor or control temperature.
Some deluxe cigar coolers come equipped with a humidifier to keep the cigars moist and a hydrometer to monitor and control the humidity levels as well, giving the collector the best of both worlds. An average cigar cooler can be stored on a desk, under a desk, in a cabinet, a cellar, or in a closet. You can literally place your cigar cooler wherever you wish, just make sure that it's out of direct sunlight.
How do Cigar Coolers Affect The Flavor Of Cigars?
A cigar that is aged in a properly set cigar cooler will develop a mellower flavor than cigars that are aged in an alternative method like a Tupperware or non-airtight box. This is because the air inside can be tightly controlled and monitored for temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.
The life expectancy of an average high quality cigar is much longer when stored in a cigar cooler. A cigar that is left unprotected can be dried out and ruined in a matter of days, but a cigar properly stored can last for several months and still retain its flavor.
What happens if you don't store your collection in a cigar cooler?
There are a variety of environmental factors in a normal room that can ruin a perfectly good (and probably expensive) cigar if it is stored improperly.
For example, if a cigar smoker keeps his collection in an unsealed cigar box on his desk, residual smoke from the cigars he enjoys today will circulate in the air and reach the unprotected cigar collection, compromising its flavor.
If cigars are kept in a clear container under direct sunlight rather than a cooler, the cigars will lose a great deal of flavor and moisture due to heat and water evaporation.
If you decide to use an alternative method of storing your cigars, such as Tupperware or a picnic cooler, you will find that over time the cigar will lose its quality. If it is too warm in the Tupperware the moisture in the tobacco can begin to mildew. If it is too cold the leaves and wrappers become brittle, losing their flavor and causing the smoke's texture to change. If you don't store your cigars correctly, there will be some sort of negative impact.
What is the best way to store cigars within a cooler?
Once you have a cigar cooler of your own, it is very tempting to collect as many new cigars as possible. Like when you move from an apartment to a house, all you want to do is fill up every room with as much junk as possible. However it is recommended that you restrict your collecting based on the capacity of the cooler. Too many cigars in a cooler compromise air flow and lead to soggy cigars.
The best way to store cigars inside a cigar cooler is by laying them horizontally on the cedar shelves. Storing them vertically places the entire weight of the cigar on one fragile end, which can damage the structure of the cigar over time. It is important to store them in a single stack without any cigars placed on top of them to allow for proper air circulation. If cigars are stacked one on top of the other no air can get between them, encouraging mold.
A great deal of people encounter the problem of deciding whether or not to cut the ends of their cigars before aging them in a cigar cooler. Cigars are sold uncut because this helps retain the moisture within the cigar from escaping too quickly during transport. It depends on whom you speak to about cigars, but the consensus is that cigars should remain uncut until they are smoked. This will vary on the brand and how long the cigars are going to be aged, so speak to your cigar seller about the brand before making the decision.
If your cigar collection is made up of a wide variety of cigars containing different types of tobacco, it is best to leave the cigars in their cellophane wrappers to prevent what is called ???marrying'. Marrying is what happens when different aromatic items are stored together in an airtight space. The two items begin to imbibe each other with their flavor, until each of them has the same smell and taste. This can ruin your cigar collection. By keeping the cellophane wrapping on the cigar you are allowing air to circulate in (because cellophane, unlike plastic wrap, is air permeable) without letting any of the flavors out to bleed onto other cigars.
One of the additional bonuses of having a cigar cooler is that it is a no brainer way to age cigars. Gone is the stress of forgetting to rotate your collection, resulting in poorly aged smokes. The cigar cooler regulates air-flow and fosters the ideal environment to store cigars long-term.
Must Have Cigar Coolers
There is such a large variety of cigar coolers currently available on the market, but as experts, this is the one that stands out as one of the best. The NewAir CC-121E Cigar cooler is ideal for providing protection and preserving your cigar collection. This modernly designed unit is guaranteed to stand out, no matter where you place it. It has many unique, clean and classic features including a premium stainless steel door and tempered glass. Most importantly it has a compact design that enables it to fit into small spaces and on countertops. Here are some of its key benefit:
- Holds up to 250 cigars
- 1 Spanish Cedar Shelves (hand crafted in the USA)
- 2 Spanish Cedar Drawers (hand crafted in the USA)
- Soft LED light illuminates the interior without causing any extra heat.
What else should I consider when buying a Cigar Cooler?
The long-term collection. It may make sense to buy a cigar cooler for the small collection you have now, but try to think about whether or not you plan on expanding your cigar collection. If you have a collection of 25 and you want to get as many as 250 then the smallest unit will be appropriate for your needs, however anyone planning on dealing in cigars or seriously expanding their collection will need a larger unit. The last thing you want to do is overfill your cigar cooler.
Where are you going to place your cigar cooler? Be sure to measure the space you plan to store the cigar cooler in, so that there is enough space for both the cooler plus some space above and behind for air flow. The cigar cooler will not work properly if there is no way to draw air into the filtration system. Most cigar lovers tend to store their coolers in their living room, office, mini bar or man cave.
The value of your collection. A collection of rare and expensive tobacco deserves a cigar cooler that is of the highest quality. Think of it as protecting your investment. The high-end cigar coolers allow for total control of the environment within. Basic cigar coolers will work perfectly, but they might not allow for minute changes in temperature and humidity.
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