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Top 10 Most Asked Questions About Cigars

In no particular order, here are answers to 10 of the most commonly asked questions about cigar smoking
Posted: July 19, 2010

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A. If the substance has a whitish color and can be easily dusted off the cigars without leaving residue, fear not. What you have in this case is "plume" (also called bloom), a natural occurrence caused by the cigars' sweating off some of the oils that are inherent to tobacco. Just dust off the cigars prior to smoking them.

If, however, the residue is more of a bluish color and leaves a stain on the wrapper when you dust it off, the cigars are the victims of mold. Mold is frequently caused by high temperature and humidity levels, so keeping your humidor near the optimal 70 degree/70 percent humidity mark will help avoid this problem. Also, mold can be caused by not using distilled water in your humidification device, so know what sort of water you are using.

Q. Occasionally some of my cigars will develop holes, and I've seen some small bugs crawling around my humidor. What should I do?

A. Beetles cause one of the most devastating problems found in humidors because they can quickly decimate a cigar supply and are difficult to combat. Beetle larvae are microscopic and occur naturally in tobacco, and, despite the quality control efforts of manufacturers, are frequently in cigars that make it to market. Once the temperature reaches 72 degrees, the beetles can hatch; they crawl through the cigars, creating those small round holes that essentially destroy a once-good smoke. But they can be combated by keeping a vigilant watch on your humidor's temperature, and perhaps by installing a beetle trap in your humidor. In addition, beetle larvae can be killed by freezing the cigars. Just put them in your freezer for three days, then move them into the fridge for one day. After you've frozen the cigars, though, take care to slowly acclimate them to rehumidification, lest the wrappers on the cigars crack

Other bugs you may occasionally run into are wood mites—small, white insects that are often the result of opening a fresh wooden box of cigars. The good news is that these mites won't harm the cigars, and they don't live long enough to seriously damage your humidor.

Q. My tobacconist sells many box-pressed cigars. Why do manufacturers do this? Is there an advantage to box-pressed smokes over round cigars?

A. Box pressing is a stylistic decision, and it neither makes a cigar better nor worse than a round cigar. Lots of people favor the feel of a box-pressed smoke, and some manufacturers feel box pressing can correct potential construction flaws. But it is an aesthetic decision as to whether you prefer this style of cigar. Box pressing says nothing about the quality of the cigar, nor of the person who smokes it.

Q. What is the best way for me to age my cigars?

A. Many collectors choose to age their cigars in boxes, keeping like cigars together. Also, it's a good idea to age cigars at a slightly lower temperature and humidity level than normal, and then to move the aged smokes to a desktop humidor when you're ready to begin smoking them.

Many cigar brands, especially Cuban brands, are available in cabinet presentation, where the cigars are banded together with a ribbon in a format that makes them ideal for aging and long-term storage. While aging boxed cigars is certainly acceptable, these cabinet-packed smokes make even more attractive aging candidates, and therefore frequently command higher prices at auction.

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