Cigars are more than just rolled tobacco leaves. They are carefully crafted works of art, embodying a tradition that spans centuries. Connoisseurs will agree that the storage and maintenance of cigars are as important as the smoking experience itself.
A significant part of that maintenance is managing the relative humidity (RH) in your humidor. Two of the most popular choices for RH are 69% and 73%.
However, how do these different levels affect your premium cigars, and how can they impact your smoking experience? Let’s delve into the world of cigar storage and unravel the mystery.
Understanding Relative Humidity and Cigars
Before we dive into the differences, let’s briefly touch upon what relative humidity means when it comes to cigars. RH measures the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount of moisture that air can hold at a certain temperature.
For cigars, the perfect balance of humidity is paramount. It’s a dance that involves maintaining the right moisture content in the cigar, ensuring it burns evenly and delivers the rich, full flavors you’ve come to expect from your premium smokes.
Too little humidity makes the cigar dry, burns quickly, and tastes harsh. Too much, and it may not light or burn properly, while possibly encouraging mold and tobacco beetles’ growth.
69% RH: A Sweet Spot for Many
Why 69%? This RH level has been deemed a ‘sweet spot’ for many aficionados and tends to be an ideal choice for those living in humid climates or during the hotter months.
At 69%, the moisture content is balanced to keep the cigars pliable without being overly moist. It provides a slow, even burn and brings out the true flavors and aromas of the cigar without any acrid or bitter tastes.
73% RH: A Bit More Moisture
With 73% RH, on the other hand, it can be a suitable choice for those in drier climates or during the winter when indoor heating systems can quickly sap the humidity from the air.
At this level, cigars are kept slightly more moist, which can help keep the wrappers from cracking and enhance the smoking experience, especially for those who prefer cooler, denser smoke.
Climate, Cigar Type, and Personal Preference
While we’ve discussed the general impacts of 69% vs. 73% RH on your cigars, it’s important to mention that the ideal RH can vary based on your local climate, the type of cigars you’re storing, and even your personal preference.
If you’re living in an arid region, a higher RH might be suitable, while those in more humid climates might prefer a lower RH. Similarly, cigars with thicker, oilier wrappers may benefit from a higher RH, while those with thinner, drier wrappers might fare better at lower humidity levels.
There’s a note of caution if maintaining your cigars with higher humidity levels. The risk of mold and beetles can increase if not carefully monitored. It can also cause cigars to burn unevenly and result in a draw that feels tight due to the increased moisture content.
Finally, the ‘perfect’ RH also boils down to personal preference. Some smokers prefer the fuller draw of a slightly more humid cigar, while others might enjoy a leaner, more intense experience. The key is to experiment and find what works best for you and your cherished collection of premium cigars.
Conclusion: A Matter of Balance
Whether you opt for 69% or 73% RH in your humidor, the key is to maintain a consistent environment that safeguards your cigars’ integrity and enhances your smoking experience. Remember.