Are Cabinet Selections Superior to Dress Boxes?

Recently we had a reader write in with the following question:

“Do you think cabinet selections are somewhat better than dress boxes?”

This is a good question and well worth addressing. For those not already familiar with the different ways that cigars can be packaged, dress boxes and cabinet selections are both common styles.

A dress box of Bolivars

A dress box is also known as a “semi-plain box.” This is the most common type of packaging you will come across, and basically the default for most purchases. A dress box is typically made of either cardboard or wood, and usually includes some kind of finishing material on top like decorative paper. On top of that go all the logos and seals you expect to see identifying the brand.

Cabinet Selection Box (SLB)

A cabinet selection is a large square / rectangular box made out of Spanish cedar. It may also be known as a “slide-lid box” or sometimes just “SLB” or “cabinet.” As these names indicate, a cabinet selection usually is closed with a wooden slide-lid. Sometimes the lids are hinged. Usually around 20-50 cigars are packed into a cabinet selection.

A lot of people say they prefer to purchase cabinet selections rather than cigars in dress boxes. There really is no “better” here, since it is very much a matter of subjective preference.

What are the advantages of going with a cabinet selection? Most smokers who prefer them say that they like them better because:

  • Cabinet selection boxes are often not as cramped as the dress boxes, so the cigars have more room to breathe. (Cigars in cabinet selections are often pretty cramped, though.)
  • The cigars in cabinet selection boxes are in direct contact with cedar. This (apparently) imparts something to the flavor profile of a cigar. This actually is probably the case no matter what material you store your cigars in. But many people prefer the cedar flavor to the flavors that are imparted from dress boxes and other types of containers.
  • Maturation. For the two reasons above (room to breathe and contact with cedar), it is commonly believed that cabinet selections are better for maturing cigars than dress boxes. Some smokers feel they age faster. Others feel they simply age better.
  • Presentation. Many people prefer the cabinet selection boxes over the dress boxes for aesthetic reasons. Cigar smoking engages all the senses, so this is a completely sensible point of view.
  • Psychology. Since cabinet selection boxes have a reputation of distinctiveness over dress boxes, many people just prefer them for that reason, and openly admit that they aren’t sure that cabinet selection boxes really make their cigars taste better. They just feel good buying them.

In short, all of these advantages are somewhat hypothetical. Even people who are fairly certain that cabinet selection boxes impart a better flavor will usually admit that they aren’t positive, as there is a lot of variation and inconsistency from one cigar to another. Personally I think out of the two main theories about flavors and maturation, the one about cedar makes the most sense.

In the end, whether you go with cabinet selections or dress boxes is up to you based on your own personal tastes. If you prefer cabinet selections, then by all means, go with them. If you don’t notice a difference, that’s fine too; not everyone does.

Cigar Storage: Optimal Temperature and Humidity

Cigar Storage: Optimal Temperature and Humidity

If you’re an avid cigar smoker, even as a novice, chances are good by now you’ve had a few bad stogies that weren’t stored properly at the optimal temperature and humidity. Maybe your humidor malfunctioned or you didn’t have one yet, or you purchased a cigar from behind a counter at some convenience store.

If cigars are not stored properly, they develop problems.

Cigars that become too damp through high humidity:

  • May form patches of mold
  • May be hard to light
  • Can go out suddenly after they are lit
  • Sometimes may have a tight draw

Cigars that become too dry through low humidity:

  • Lose aroma and flavor through the evaporation of essential oils
  • May burn hot
  • Can become harsh
  • The wrapper may also crack

Just as you need to control the humidity level your cigars are stored in, you also need to maintain control of the temperature.

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Analog vs Digital Hygrometer : Which Is Better?

Analog vs. Digital Hygrometer: Which Is Better?

Stocking up on supplies for your first humidor? Building a wineador? One essential you absolutely must buy is a hygrometer. A hygrometer measures the level of humidity in your humidor, and lets you know if it is too high, too low, or just right. If your humidity drops too much, your cigars will dry out. If your humidity rises too high, your cigars will get musty, possibly even moldy, and may even attract pests. Hygrometers come in two main types: analog and digital. Analog hygrometers work using a spring which tightens or loosens depending on the humidity level. Digital hygrometers are electronic sensors. How do you know which to choose?

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What is a Wineador and How to Build One?

What is a wineador?

We’ve been getting quite a lot of questions about temperature-controlled humidors lately and it was about time to come up with an answer! The following guest article comes courtesy of Squidot.

Wineador: a wine cooler converted for use as a humidor.

When I was looking for info on this topic I found a lack of a good singular source, instead having to go to multiple sites/forums to find the answers to my questions. I thought it would be helpful to compile my findings and the options you have available when going this route. If anyone wants to add something please let me know in the comments. Let's get started !

Why a wineador?

  • The main reason people choose wineadors as their preferred storage method is the temperature controls. This can be very handy if you live in a hot climate like me. I don't really want to keep my entire downstairs at or below 70 degrees for the sake of my cigars. With my wineador I am easily able to keep my sticks at a pretty constant 64 degrees. It also has a fan that will circulate air, which is very nice.
  • Another reason is increased storage capacity. You could also go with “coolidoors” but you wouldn't have temp controls or airflow. And also...
  • Aesthetics. Many people, myself included, really like the way they look once you get custom drawers in there.

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Choosing a Humidification System for Your Humidor

Humidification systems for a humidor

If you’ve bought a humidor, why would you need to add a secondary humidification system? It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re in this situation, you know that humidors don’t always do their jobs perfectly. Sometimes they simply are not very efficient. As a rule, you want your humidity level to be somewhere around 68-72%.

Some humidors will run a little lower than that, and may need a boost. Other times, they may run around the lower end of that range, and you might prefer a bit more humidity (72% instead of 68% for example). Or you might have a humidor with a seal that isn’t perfect, and lets some of the humidity leak out. Perhaps you have an older humidor that you bought or inherited, and it simply doesn’t work as well as it could. You also may have dryness problems if you suddenly add a big batch of dry cigars to your humidor. Those cigars will suck all the humidity right out of the air, which can then ironically cause all your stogies to dry out.

Whatever your situation, you can give your humidifier a boost (or simply a replacement...) by adding a humidification system. There are a number of low-cost products you can buy which will help you to maintain the humidity level that you want. These are all cheap, easy solutions, and they can save you money if you don’t want to replace your humidor. Let’s take a look at some popular products and their pros and cons.

Read the full review of Choosing a Humidification System for Your Humidor...

How to Remove an Unwanted Smell from Your Humidor

How to get rid of unwanted smells in a humidor?

Recently we received the following question from one of our readers:

"I've been storing some cinnamon-flavored cigars in my humidor and, even one month after I removed them, the humidor still smells of cinnamon, which is affecting my other cigars. How can I get this smell out?"

There are a lot of cases where something like that may happen. Maybe you have a situation similar to our reader’s, and some stogies you stored with a particularly strong aroma are starting to affect the other cigars. Or maybe you just bought a brand new humidor and the cedar smell of the wood is particularly strong, and that is impacting the flavor and aroma of your cigars. Or perhaps you were using your humidor for some other storage application, and whatever you had in there previously left an odor behind it.

Whatever the situation, there is a solution! Or several solutions, as it turns out.

  • Let it air out. Sometimes, this is all it takes! Just leave the humidor open for a few days and let the smell die down. This works very well with new humidors that have an overly strong wood smell and can work great in other situations too. Placing the humidor outdoors during this process can work very well so long as you do not need to worry about precipitation.
  • Wipe down the inside of the humidor with isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol. You do not need to use a lot. Wait for the box to dry (leave it open so that it can air out thoroughly). After about a day, the aroma will hopefully be gone.
  • Baking soda may also do the trick. You may already use this to keep odors out of your fridge. Keep it in a container so that it doesn’t spill, and take out your cigars before you place the baking soda inside. Remove the baking soda as soon as the odor is gone and put your cigars back. This process could take up to a week, but it works great for a lot of odors.
  • Try a glass of whisky or brandy. If airing out the humidor doesn’t get rid of the smell, this non-conventional tactic may work to clear out the old smell. The “drawback” is that the new smell will linger for a long time even after you take the glass out again. The reason I say “drawback” is because some people actually like the impact this has on their cigars, and deliberately put a few drops of whisky in their humidors whether they need to get rid of an odor or not. Close the humidor when you try this technique.
  • I've also heard people say that placing thinly sliced potatoes inside a closed humidor for a few days can also help you get rid of unwanted smells. Disclaimer: I haven't tried this technique.

As you can see, there are a number of different options you can try, so there is no need to give up on your old humidor. Just be sure to take care of your cigars during the process. In the future, it would be wise to store flavored cigars elsewhere (this part you have probably figured out on your own!).

What tricks have you used to successfully clear out unwanted odors from your humidor? Please share in the comments below!

What Are Tobacco Beetles and How Do You Fight Them?

What are cigar beetles?

It’s a day like any other day—or so you think. You head to your humidor to grab a stogie; you haven’t had one in a couple weeks, and it’s time for a nice long, languorous smoke. You open up your humidor and you stumble backwards in horror.

They’re so tiny you may not see them; in fact, you probably don’t. They’re only about the size of a pinhead. But you do see the damage they’ve created. There are holes in your cigars where the tobacco beetles have burrowed. You might see them crawling on your stogies or the insides of your cigar box. Whether you see them or not, your reaction is revulsion, panic, and outrage. Are your precious cigars ruined?

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Guide to Buying Your First Humidor

Guide to Buying Your First Humidor

Chris asks:

I recently started smoking cigars and I feel it's time to buy my first humidor. Which one should I choose?

At some point fairly early on in your journey as a newbie cigar smoker, you are going to need to look into buying a humidor. The need will strike you when you start browsing in your cabinets for cigars to smoke and find yourself running across dried-up or moldy cigars that have suffered from the natural climate of your home. Some cigars that have not been well cared for can be salvaged, but many cannot, and no matter what, they will lose at least some of their quality.

Once you know you love smoking cigars, it becomes a necessity to buy a humidor and save your cigars from this unhappy fate. Yes, if you have a very small collection, you can keep them in zip-lock bags. If you have a cooler you do not use for other purposes, you can even use that as a humidor, but it will never function as well as a real humidor. Ultimately, protecting your cigars by keeping them in a climate-controlled environment saves you money, so you can think of a humidor as an investment. When you purchase a humidor, you will need to think about type, material, size, and price.

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