Written by James Payne

Wednesday, 08 July 2009

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Welcome back to another installment of the Puff FAQ, where I strive to answer your most frequently asked questions, whether they be from the newbie smoker or the veteran gorilla. This issue I will be tackling questions including the most infamous of them all: should I leave the cellophane on or off my cigar? Keep reading, as the answer may surprise you.


In the past articles on this series, I have rotated back and forth between newbie questions, followed by an answer, followed by a veteran question with an answer. In this particular article, I am going to dispense with this technique, and just get to the meat of the matter: answering your questions.


Question: My cigar has a cellophane wrapper. Should I leave that on or take it off?


Answer: You are not alone in asking this question; in fact, it seems everyone asks this one at some point in time, including yours truly.


The answer can be a little tricky honestly. If you don’t tend to store your cigars, or smoke them pretty quickly, then the short answer is sure, why not leave them in the cellophane? You will not have them around long enough for it to matter anyway.


If, however, you are the type that stores cigars and hordes them away like a hungry squirrel with their nuts, waiting for that long cold winter, then your answer may be different.


A properly humidified humidor will do the job of a cellophane wrapper for you; keep the cigar safe. It will even go one step further, and allow that cigar to age properly, marrying it with the other cigars in your case. For this purpose I say, take it off (just be gentle when you do, as you can rip the wrapper if you do not).


However, you have to realize that if you are not going to leave the cigar in your humidor for at least a month or two, there really is not much point in removing the wrapper. So here is what I suggest: Do three things.


First, take off the wrapper and let some age properly. Second, leave some in the humidor with the cellophane on, and take those with you when you just want a quick smoke. Lastly, leave the cellophane on some of the ones that you are not certain whether or not they will be in the box for more than a month, and leave the end of the cellophane open, that way it benefits from its time spent in the box, but it also has that cellophane protection for when you take it back out and seal it. Problem solved!


Question: Do I really need a humidor?


Answer: Maybe. It all depends on your smoking habits really.


Humidors serve to purposes: to store and to age cigars. They can also be nice decorative pieces as well, but for this question, let’s focus on function. So, if you are the type of smoker that collects cigar, wants to age your cigars, wishes to marry them with other cigars in your collection, humidors are for you.


If on the other hand you do not purchase or smoke many cigars, could not care less about home-aging them, etc, then no, you do not need one. You can just purchase them and smoke them on the go.


A third scenario of course does present itself. Maybe you cannot (or think you cannot) afford, or wish to spend the money on a quality humidor. Maybe you are the do-it-yourself type. Or maybe you just aren’t ready to commit yet. In that case, you can always do the poor-man’s humidor – use some Tupperware. The process is pretty simple. Put your cigars in a Tupperware container, making sure to leave one corner of the lid proper open for good air-flow and the release of moisture (otherwise the moisture will build-up and ruin your cigars). Get a small humidifying device and place it inside.


Tada! Your own inexpensive humidor. Granted, it isn’t as prestigious, pretty, or safe as a real humidor (for instance, mold can more readily invade your cigars this way), but it gets the job done until you are ready to make that final commitment.


If you want to add extra flavor to your cigars, as a normal humidor does, there are ways to do this as well. You can take that little cedar block that acts as a liner in your cigar boxes and add it to the humidor. This will give you a nice taste. Likewise, you can take a shot-glass of brandy or other alcohol and place it inside, letting the cigars absorb the flavor.


Question: My premium cigar isn’t drawing right. What happened?


Answer: There are several reasons why your cigar might not be drawing properly. If it is part of a batch of cigars, and all the rest were fine, I would say that it probably has a plug in it. If all the cigars have this issue, then there could be a number of issues to look at. Let’s run through the theory for a whole batch of cigars that are hard to draw from.


Cigar makes strive for uniformity in their cigars. It is important for every cigar in a brand to be like every other cigar in that line. This is known as consistency, and is key for manufacturers. When you buy a box of cigars, you want to know what to expect.


If all of the cigars in the box have a bad draw, it could be because they are not, in fact, premium cigars. They could be wrapped too tightly. Also, you may have cut the cigar improperly, or the cigar may have become damaged. Maybe you did not store the cigar properly, and now it is too moist or worse, too dry. Lastly, look for tiny holes in the cigar. If you see them on one or more of your cigars, chances are you have a beetle infestation. I detail how to handle such a situation in a previous article.


If it is not any of these things, then perhaps you just have a plug in your cigar. All a plug is, is some sort of blockage that messes with your draw. It could be that the leaf was packed tightly, or a pesky stem getting in your way; these things happen. One way to get rid of a plug is to gingerly massage your cigar, being sure not to apply too much pressure. Roll it back and forth between your fingers and you may be able to loosen that knot out. Just be sure to lick the tips of your fingers first, otherwise you may stick to the wrapper and rip it.


You can also try to clip the end of the cigar a little more, as the plug may be located there, or in desperate times you can stick a small pin in side and try to loosen things up. At the end of the day though, if the massage doesn’t work, I would avoid the pin method, and maybe just endure or move on.


Question: I have noticed that the Spanish cedar lining in my humidor is not imparting the same flavor to my cigars. How do I fix this?


Answer: There are a few simple solutions to this. First, it could not even be a problem with the wood; maybe you have just grown so accustomed to it, you do not even recognize it even more.


However, just to be safe, there are some tricks you can use. The simplest, and perhaps laziest, is to simple take out a few of the cedar linings from your old cigar boxes and place them inside your humidor; problem solved!


Another method is to buy yourself some thin grain sandpaper and lightly sand a layer off of your cedar (or even the block that you placed in there). This should reawaken the flavoring for you.




We covered some decent ground in this one. As always, there will be more Puff FAQs to follow in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned. And if you have any questions, or different solutions to the questions presented herein, please drop us a line and let us know; we always enjoy hearing from you!

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