To enjoy Cuban cigars at their full potential they must be stored and maintained in correct conditions. Like exceptional wines they can develop and improve over many years and so storing them correctly is vital, even if over a relatively short period of time.
A dry cigar may burn too readily and taste harsh and hot when smoked. It will also be extremely brittle and susceptible to damage. The natural oils contained in the leaves will dissipate over time and so, even if the cigar is revived, it will leave a bland and tasteless smoking experience.
Conversely a cigar that is exposed to too much moisture risks the filler leaves expanding and splitting the outer wrapper. It also will burn unevenly and be difficult to keep alight. Cigars kept in excessively humidified conditions can also result in a diluted or muddled taste.
The ideal conditions to store Havana cigars are between 16°c and 18°c and in a relative humidity of 65-70% and the units used to store Havana cigars correctly are known as humidors. These can be anything from a small desk-top box for about 10 cigars, to a walk-in room storing several hundred.
Check your cigars regularly to ensure they are not too wet or too dry. Let the cigars tell you when to water the humidor by gently squeezing them between your thumb and forefinger. Cigars in ideal condition should be firm yet springy. It is possible to monitor the humidity levels in your humidor using a hygrometer. However, many smokers insist that the old fashioned method of testing cigars by hand is still the most reliable.