Friday. Time for another Ask halfwheel.
As the name implies, each Friday we tackle a question from a reader about a wide range of topics.
Today’s question comes from Ron:
After reading the latest Ask halfwheel, I have a question. With all the recommendations for maintaining RH% for humidors, has anyone ever broke it down according to type of cigars or region (according to where you live)? Although it may not make a difference. But if one is maintaining a humidor at 70% RH in Florida, does it make sense to do the same for someone living in the desert (like Las Vegas) where the humidity level is so low?
Connie style wrappers versus Maduro would seem to react differently going from a 65-70% RH humidor to be removed and smoked in a 5% RH environment.
For starters, I’ve never seen anyone attempt to chart out ideal storage conditions depending on climate and I imagine that probably has to do with it may not matter much, assuming you use a humidor or another stable container to store cigars.
The first thing to keep in mind is that a humidor is basically a microclimate; while it can be affected by the ambient temperature and humidity, the goal is to create as ideal of a condition for cigars inside that box, regardless of where that box may happen to be.
I live in Dallas, which has an average relative humidity of 37-89 percent according to weatherspark.com. I keep a hygrometer on my desk at the office and I typically find it even with air conditioning, the relative humidity in the office ranges from around 55-70 percent throughout the year, though I don’t make note of it every single day of the year.
Patrick Lagreid lives in Phoenix, which is obviously quite dry and hot, with humidity creeping into the single digits at its driest, and only getting into what would be relatively ideal cigar conditions, 65-70% humidity, during a few brief weeks of the year. The majority of the time, it is on the drier side of ideal for cigars.
After speaking with him, it seems we generally take the same approach to storing cigars. Most cigars are stored somewhere between 60-70 percent relative humidity; Cuban cigars are stored closer to 60 percent relative humidity and cigars that are being aged for long periods are also kept at lower humidity.
We both will dry box cigars—i.e. store them at lower humidity for a day or two—if we experience cigars with burn issues. Though how we achieve this is probably very different; Patrick can likely just leave the cigars on a counter where I have to place cigars in a humidor that is dried out, and he can likely achieve the desired result a bit quicker than I can.
While we don’t store cigars differently because of where we live, we both certainly acknowledge that certain cigars shouldn’t be smoked in certain conditions.
I am a large fan of Cameroon wrappers, however, I will rarely smoke a Cameroon cigar when it is very cold or dry because the wrappers will crack. Similarly, if it’s very hot—and therefore dry—in Phoenix, Patrick avoids smoking cigars with thinner wrappers because they will suffer similar issues. If he needs or wants to smoke a cigar with a thinner wrapper, he’s more conscientious about easing it from the humidor to where he will be smoking it, which is usually his balcony. That may mean first opening up the bag the cigar is in for a while, then taking it out of the bag, and then heading outside with it. The one thing he says he never does is take a cigar straight from its humidified environment outside into the hot, dry desert air, as many cigars simply can’t handle the shock.
As per our experiences, it’s not as much about storing cigars differently based on climate, but storing cigars differently based on what the cigars are. Cigars with thicker wrappers and heavier tobacco will fare much better stored at 70-72 percent relative humidity compared to cigars with thin wrappers. Just like with storage, that extends to when you smoke them.
Perhaps the biggest difference where climate pays a role in storage is in terms of how strict you must be.
For the most part, I can leave a cigar on a counter for a couple days without worry; Patrick on the other hand, cannot.
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