Mongo lit up his first Cuban cigar one night, but only had time to smoke the first two inches. Not wanting to miss out on a great cigar, he put the half-smoked marvel inside his Spanish cedar lined humidor, so that he could enjoy it the next day. Now every time he opens the lid, he's greeted with the smell of an ashtray, and every cigar he pulls from that box tastes like someone has already smoked it.
What you can do: This is a tough one. Few things on the planet absorb odors better than Spanish cedar, and tobacco is one of them. You may be able to salvage the humidor by letting it completely dry out, then sanding down the wood interior, but in most cases this won't work. The humidor is ruined.
Preventive measures: Never put anything smelly, especially not a half-smoked cigar, into a humidor or a cigar case. If you want to save a half-smoked cigar, put it into a tube, a plastic bag or leave it in the ashtray.
CRETINOUS CIGAR STUBBERS
You're a generous cigar smoker, always ready to give away a classic smoke so that all can share in your joy. At your wedding, you even filled two humidors with personalized Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars; their cellophane wrappers embossed with the news of the day. As your guests filed into the smoking room with bellies full of wedding cake, they helped themselves to the smokes.
Louie doesn't really like cigars, but he's never turned down a free thing in his life. He takes a handful of the Opuses, clipping one and taking all of two puffs before putting it down on a coffee table, walking off to sample the free Scotch at the bar.
What can you do: Snatch the cigar from the table and use the excuse of imminent fire danger to hose down both furniture and Louie with the fire extinguisher. Now you are faced with the choice of clipping Louie's offensive saliva off the cigar and saving it for later or forcing him to smoke the forsaken cigar until he learns to appreciate it.
Preventive measure: Only offer the good stuff to serious smokers. Keep a stash of inexpensive starter cigars for curious lunkheads like Louie. A friend of ours has developed a 25-question multiple choice cigar aptitude exam to determine if a prospective smoker is worthy of a top-drawer smoke, but this may be taking it a bit too far.
HOLD THE MOLD
You open your prized humidor, but your cigars look like one of those patients from a Michael Crichton novel: they're covered in green spots. Some water has dripped from your humidification device, and now your cigar's haven sports more mold than college meatloaf.
What can you do: First, you must determine if the stuff on your cigars is mold or plume. Mold leaves a stain when it's removed, but plume comes off without a mark. Plume is good; essentially this is solidified oil, which usually is a sign that your cigars are aging well. Mold is a sign that your cigars are in too humid an environment.
If it is mold, scrape it off, and separate the moldy cigars from the unscathed ones. You can smoke the moldy ones if you like (so long as the mold hasn't spread to the filler tobacco at the foot of the cigar), but you need to keep them away from uninfected cigars, lest the mold spreads.
Preventive Measures: To ensure you don't have another outbreak, lower the humidity in your humidor, and make sure you don't drip any water on cigars when you refill.
What can you do: Draw out a vanilla-flavored, machine-made cheroot that you've secretly outfitted with a Cohiba band. Hand it to Dewey and watch the show while he goes into paroxysms of joy, reciting tasting notes memorized from a rating of the Esplendido.
Preventive measure: Play dead. If this fails, politely interrupt him to mention that there seems to be a growing red spot on the side of his face that he might want to have checked out, especially with all this flesh-eating disease going around.
It's Thursday night, and you've just settled into your favorite seat at your neighborhood cigar bar. You're two puffs into a Partagas No. 10 when you hear a whiny, annoying voice growing louder in your left ear. "Oh, it smells in here," you hear, said with a theatrical series of coughs.
What can you do: Launch into your best Winston Churchill speech. "Yes, I am smelly," you say, sneering at her the way the old Prime Minister would in his glory days. "But tomorrow, I shall be less smelly. You ma'am, will still be ugly."
Preventive Measure: Insist on better security in any cigar bar or smoke-friendly institution at which you are a member.
You've just spent $2,500 hard-earned dollars on a fine Elie Bleu humidor. You fill it with cigars and go off to play golf, but return to find that your wife has covered the top of the humidor with all manners of knick-knacks. Now, every time you reach for a Cohiba, you have to lift the 1/16th size Princess Di doll from the box, her replica Prada shoes leaving hairline scratches in its wake.
What you can do: You have no choice, take out Di. Drop her on her porcelain head as you reach for a double corona. Claim ignorance and appear truly sorry. "Love that crushed velvet dress," you mutter, reaching for your S.T. Dupont lighter and leaving the scene of the crime.
Preventive Measure: Buy a humidor with a beveled top. And avoid women who like dolls.
Illustrations by Michael Moretti
Design by Joe Mejia
Go to Part I