Like a fine wine, cigars become better with time. Thus the concept of a “fresh” cigar is actually misleading, as new cigars tend to burn unevenly and offer bitter flavors, whereas properly aged cigars exude more flavors, thus giving the smoker a more pleasurable and refined smoking experience. If your cigar has a dry appearance, is beginning to unravel or seems peeled and flaky then it hasn’t always been bad, it just hasn’t be treated with the proper care it needed. This can include being stored outside of a humidor and in an environment which was too hot or dry. This can also happen when a cigar is stored inside a humidor where the temperature is consistently fluctuating, causing the tobaccos contained within to expand and contract. This can cause damage to the outside wrapper, giving it a cracked or peeled appearance.
This is particularly true for larger ring gauge cigars like El Septimo Cigars. These cigars tend to have a greater volume of tobacco, a lot of which is not directly exposed to the outside environment. This makes them the optimum cigars for aging, as you can leave them in the humidor for as long as you see fit, at which no point they are going to become stale.
For tips on “The Ultimate Guide to Storing Your Cigars,” be sure to read our past Blog Post. In the meantime, finish reading this Blog Post so that you can learn ways to identify that your cigar has gone bad.
The Smell Test
If your cigar smells moldy or stale, it definitely has gone bad. To avoid purchasing or smoking bad cigars, always smell them before you purchase or smoke them. It’s always a good idea to smell a cigar before you purchase or smoke it. A fresh cigar should have a mild tobacco scent. If your cigar smells moldy, throw it away. If your cigar smells stale, it has probably dried out and it is no longer fresh. You can occasionally save a dried out cigar by rehydrating it, if you wish to do so.
The Pinch Test
If your cigar is too dry where it no longer retains any humidity and appears to be “cracking,” then it should be declared bad. This is because the dryness in the cigar has caused it to lose its essential oils. Loss of these essential oils translates to loss in flavor.
To prevent cigars from going bad due to excess dryness, always ensure that you store them in the right humidity. This can be done by always ensuring that your hygrometers are calibrated. One of the easiest ways to tell if your cigar is fresh is to do “The Pinch Test.” When you pinch the cigar between your fingers, it should feel firm with a slight bounce to it. If the cigar feels hard or like a piece of dry wood, it is not fresh. It also should not feel too soft or cushiony, as this indicates that the cigar has become too moist.
The Taste Test
A fresh cigar should taste pleasant in your mouth. A slight earthy flavor is usually detected, but cigars can also taste somewhat fruity and sweet. If a cigar has gone bad, it may taste stale, rancid, or sour. If the cigar tastes somewhat like dirt or soil, it is definitely not fresh. Avoid smoking a cigar that tastes off or unusual because it will usually taste even worse when lit.
The reason for cigars going stale is improper storage. Improper storage of cigars causes them to dry out and therefore lose their flavor and nicotine content. To avoid a situation whereby you cigars go stale due to improper storage, always ensure that you store them in a humidor.
Plume Versus Mold – Common Misconceptions
When a cigar has been stored in a humidified environment for a long period, small white crystals can appear on the wrapper. These crystals are known as “plume,” and the process of crystallization is referred to as “bloom.” Plume is actually a sign that your cigars have been properly aged. You can simply brush off the small white spots of plume and enjoy the rich, smooth flavor and aroma that well-aged cigars are known for.
While plume is a harmless substance and a welcome sign of proper cigar maintenance, mold is quite the opposite. Mold can occur when cigars have been humidified with tap water, as opposed to distilled water. Mold typically appears as a bluish or green substance. It harbors a musty smell and will not brush off your cigars. It can also easily grow on the interior of your humidor. If you utilize a traditional humidification unit in your humidor, refill it with only distilled water to avoid the potential for mold to occur. If you notice signs of mold on any cigars, remove them from the environment immediately and throw them out, as they will infect the other cigars you’re storing. Mold can also grow in the lining of your humidor and is very difficult to remedy. Often, humidors affected by mold should be discarded.
Finding a stale or moldy cigar can be very disappointing, so it’s recommended that you always store your cigars in the proper humidity. Avoid excessive moisture or dampness. Moisture will lead to mold and ruined cigars. In addition, storing your cigars in conditions that are too dry will cause the cigar to go stale. You should protect your cigars by keeping them in a cigar humidor or cooler. If this is not an option, you can store your cigars in a plastic bag with a damp sponge. If you want to enjoy fresh cigars, humidity is essential!