New to cigar smoking? While a fun and relaxing hobby, novice smokers may experience some barriers to entry when trying to immerse themselves in cigar culture. One of these barriers is knowing how long cigars last before they become stale or even rotten and unsmokable.
The crucial variable is whether or not you have a humidor, which is a kind of storage container that monitors and strikes the right balance between temperature and humidity, which are both essential to keeping cigars fresh.
If a cigar loses its moisture, it will dry out, resulting in unpleasant changes to its taste, consistency, and even its construction. Humidors address that problem by maintaining a temperature between about 68-73°F, with a corresponding humidity level of about 65-72%. Without a humidor, cigars typically only maintain peak freshness for three days!
So, this begs the question, what if you don’t have a humidor? Well, we have some recommendations. Below you’ll find a convenient breakdown of five excellent cigars that don’t require a humidor, along with five excellent cigars that do.
5 Cigars That Don’t Require a Humidor
The type of cigars that don’t require a humidor are known as dry-cured cigars. Subjected to a baking process during manufacturing, these cigars are typically of European origin, and require only 12-15% humidity to stay fresh. This means they can be stored at room temperature without a problem. Typically containing Indonesian, Sumatran, or Brazilian tobaccos, which gives them an unforgettably spicy flavor, dry-cured cigars are smaller in size than your typical cigar. Here are five of our favorites:
Established in 1888 in the town of Pfeffikon, Switzerland, Villiger offers some of
the most popular dry-cured cigars on the market. Made with the finest Cuban-seed tobacco and machine-made in Switzerland, you can’t go wrong with any of the half-dozen products Villiger has to offer. We particularly recommend the Villiger Export Maduro, which features warm and nutty flavors with subtle hints of spice. It also comes housed in a bold and spicy Brazillian wrapper, and is truly one of the top dry-cured cigars around
A family-owned business that makes its popular cigars with 100% natural hand-picked Kentucky dark fired tobacco, Avanti offers five varieties of European-style dry-cured stogie: Anisette, Cafe Mocha, Bourbon, Vanilla, and the Continental. For our money, we say go with the Anisette––it’s classic, inspired, and titillates the senses. Infused with a liqueur flavored with anise seed, these sweet little cigars come with an unforgettable kick of spice. And best of all, they’re incredibly affordable.
The Netherlands produce an excellent dry aged cigar! Released by Agio, one of the most famous dry-cured cigar companies around, these flavorful cigarillos offer the best of the classic European cigar tradition. With its Ecuadorian wrapper and premium Dominicano tobacco, we recommend the Panter Cigarillo Blue. A mellow, rich, and toasty smoke, these slender 3x21 cigars are the perfect companion to a cup of coffee or post-dinner dessert.
Danemann has been making its famous German cigarillos since 1873, and with
tradition comes perfection. We particularly enjoy Danemann’s Speciale Sumatra, which offers notes of earthy spices and wood. Wrapped in its titular Sumatran wrapper, it’s an affordable, memorable, and punchy little cigarillo.
De Nobili Cigars
Our final dry-cured recommendation is another American delicacy, De Nobili. Expertly crafted in its signature rustic style in Scranton, Pennsylvania since 1896, these flavorful stogies feature a blend of Kentucky and Tennessee tobaccos. De Nobili also offers a fabulous selection of distinct medium-to-full-bodied blends, but we prefer their Toscani brand, which is their take on the Italian cigar tradition. Overall, it’s a bold and budget-savvy smoking experience.
5 Cigars That Do Require a Humidor
While there are some good choices if you’re looking for a cigar that doesn’t require a humidor, most, in fact, do—especially the longer, thicker, and more expensive varieties.
Humidors can range in size and style. On one end of the spectrum you’ll find convenient small shoe box-sized travel humidors, and on the other, large temperature controlled rooms serving as humidors. True aficionados tend to have multiple humidors to separate brands and keep flavors from intermingling with one another.
Cigars kept in a humidor can age similarly to wine, becoming more complex and rich with the years. If they’re stored correctly, flavor notes can improve, peak, mellow, or dissipate. With that said, here are five classic cigars that you should either smoke within three days of purchase, or store in a humidor.
Oliva Connecticut Reserve
To start, here’s an excellent cigar from an award-winning brand. Mild to medium in strength, with premium Nicaraguan tobacco and an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, this smooth cigar won’t disappoint. It has notes of coffee beans, cedar, and leather, and it’s topped off with a silky, almost buttery finish.
San Crisotbal Elegancia
This is a variation on the same core components highlighted above, but it’s less
intense than the Oliva. With tasting notes of cashew, leather, white pepper, and smoke almonds, it’s the perfect cigar for the occasional smoker.
La Aroma de Cuba
A top-selling Cuban-legacy brand, La Aroma de Cuba is blended by
award-winning cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia of Esteli, Nicaragua. It has a medium strength, and it’s made of premium Nicaraguan long-fillers and an oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. With a profile of cocoa, cedar, black pepper, spices, and a sweet finish, you really can’t do much better than this epic cigar. What’s more, it took home Cigar Aficionado’s prestigious ‘#1 Cigar Industry Best Buy’ award.
Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente
A classic blend of creamy Dominican binder and filler tobaccos, this is just one of the heavy hitters in Arturo Fuente’s catalogue. It’s mellow, nutty, and wrapped in Connecticut Shade, though that Shade is also offered in three different types: Natural, Maduro, and Sun Grown. Our recommendation? The Natural. With notes of nougat, spices, and cedar, it’s a beyond satisfying smoke.
Best for last? We think so. With its creamy notes of cashew, almond, cedar, and
coffee beans, the Ashton Classic is quite possibly the pinnacle of mild Dominican taste. It’s sweet around the edges, wrapped in a golden-blond Connecticut Shade wrapper, and contains a well-aged mix of Dominican binder and filler tobacco. Suffice it to say, Ashton hit it out of the park with this one.
Looking to enjoy a cigar, without adding a humidor to the mix? Consider dry-cured cigars that don’t require a humidor. But if it’s a refined smoke you seek we really can’t recommend investing in a humidor highly enough. As premium cigars are constructed by master artisans and tend to be significant investments, a humidor is the best way to store your beloved cigars and ensure you are best preserving your collection for future smoking pleasure.