Up until last June, Life was simple. You see, prior to 2017 I was operating a simple 50-75 capacity desktop humidor with the help of the Boveda humidity packs, and life was easy. Then in 2017, I began to purchase boxes more often, hoping to unlock some treasures by aging cigars instead of buying a box, smoke, and repeat. So after some research and cigar forum searching, I decided to buy a Tupperware tub with a gasket around the lid. The Tupperware was AMAZING,to my surprise, and the best part was the storage (easily 8-10 boxes) to cost (Under $20) ratio compared to a traditional humidor. The gasket made the tub essentially air tight and it held humidity better than any of the desktops I had used previously. I even purchased some Spanish cedar trays on Amazon bringing my all-in total with Boveda Packs to under $85 for a humidor that could house 200 cigars. I outsmarted life and I won!
Prior to this whole epiphany, I had noticed a bitter taste to my cigars, which I was writing off as an old humidor that didn’t seal quite as well after several moves. The first few cigars I smoked from the tub were smooth and had shaken off the bitterness that I was tasting before, really making me believe I had beat the system. I went several more months adding to my collection, mostly Cuban, which requires a lot more care than non-Cuban cigars. Then in early 2018, my winning streak came to a halt.
Finding forums with good information takes a lot of searching, and I felt really good that I had found the right ones. After months of good smoking, the bitterness had returned. By now, I had been a regular reader on several forums and one thing had become very clear: temperature control was as important as humidity control. This was a problem. I live in Florida so during the late spring/summer/fall I run the AC consistently between 76-78 Fahrenheit, which while warm for Cuban cigars (ideal temps are 60-66 Fahrenheit) the lack of large swings kept the humidity stable. However, during the winter/early spring, the house temperature can range anywhere between 55-80 depending on if I care to turn the heat or AC on during cold/warm spells. No wonder I was noticing the bitterness mostly during these months!
Now this was the obvious issue that I observed at the time so I began looking at cigar coolers. Not only did I need cigar storage but at this point I was in the market for alcohol storage as well, so I started to look for dual purpose coolers. The options were very limited, but the brand I was the highest on (Whynter) had a 350 cigar/16 wine bottle cooler so I pulled the trigger on the purchase. The cigar capacity was in between their small and large stand-alone units, and the cooler was the just below counter height, which was perfect since I was planning on building a counter top/table over it to create a bar effect. (Check back in 2020 to see if that project is complete!) After a lot of shifting and rearranging, I got most of the collection in the cigar side, and life was great… except for the few poor stragglers that couldn’t fit.
Here comes the happy ending, right? Well it’s not that simple. Getting the right temperature that wouldn’t kill the moisture was a struggle. Just like the first go around with the bin, unwanted bitterness started to creep back in. Eventually, I began using distilled water in the water tray that was included, because the Boveda packs were struggling in the chilled climate. This (so far) seems to have fixed the bitterness issue, which was a huge win, and overall I’ve noticed a very big taste difference since this change. (I think this is a Florida issue not a Boveda issue since I used the same packs in Illinois and never experienced this.) I still use the Bovada packs to help regulate the humidity top to bottom, but they are no longer my primary humidity source. Unfortunately, adding the water tray cut into my real estate, so I had to move some cigars back to the old humidors. Of course the hot spell shortly after the move caused a big temperature spike in the house and I found some of my Por Larrañaga Petite Coronas had a beetle problem... Can you believe this idiot thought he had won anything other than a headache?!?
Now that you understand where my psyche is, not well, I can get to the point of this whole thing. I rearranged (again) the cooler to get the good PLPCs back in, and REALLY maximized the space in there. One thing I failed to mention is I keep a spreadsheet of my inventory to track how different cigars age over time and now it was time to add another column to the spreadsheet: Smokeability.
I created four categories for Smokeability to identify what stage each cigar lot was in; 1. Aging Required, 2. Aging Preferred, 3. Ready, and 4. Clearance. Just as I had hoped, the total in each category decreased as the category number increased, leaving me with 80ish 3’s and 50 or so 4’s. The 4’s are a hodgepodge of half smoked samplers, the end of underwhelming boxes, and other odd balls that have accumulated over time. Since I finished this exercise in January, I thought it would be fitting to make a game out of this by creating some 2019 cigar goals. Number one is to get rid of all of the 4’s in my cooler by the end of the year. (This is as far as I got with the list because this is going to be a tall order…) I’m sure some of the current 3’s will be 4’s next year, but freeing up space for 50 more sticks is needed with the current production coming out of Cuba! And who am I kidding, I’ll buy anything.
Over the next few months I’m going to concentrate my reviews on the 4’s that I smoke, or choke down in some cases. There are a few Cubans, a few hidden gems, and some aged stock that is smoking way better than it was when I purchased, so don’t feel bad for me. The reviews will be shorter, you’re welcome, and I’ll cover multiple sticks in each article as I roll up me sleeves and do the dirty work I was born to do! If someone would have told me ten years ago that one day I would force myself to smoke 50 cigars that I had deemed as clearance, I would have wondered what the hell had I done to become such a disappointment. But today I understand this is just part of the journey.