Who doesn’t enjoy a fine Cohiba at a wedding, a rich Robusto on a boys’ weekend or a long-burning Churchill to celebrate a professional milestone? These aren’t just disposable cigars to be consumed and forgotten; they are craftsman-made artisanal products. They are rites of passage to be savored and appreciated.
If you’re looking to elevate your cigar game, you need to respect the product. In this article, let’s explore seven accessories that help preserve, carry and treat your cigars for a finer experience. The next time you roll up to a bachelor party with $40 Cubans, protect your investment with these must-have items.
A Tightly Sealed Humidor (Bonus Points for Spanish Cedar)
You can always spot an improperly kept cigar. It’s bone-dry, brittle and burns hot and sooty. The culprits here are almost always open air and low humidity. Remember, tobacco is a leaf. Like any leaf, it will dry if you leave it out in the open for too long.
Humidors stop a cigar from drying out by creating a slightly moist, airtight environment. According to most aficionados, the best humidors are made from Spanish cedar, which absorbs and releases moisture to help maintain the correct relative humidity (RH). But in truth, you can make a humidor from just about any airtight container.
Two-Way Humidity Control Packs
Even the best Spanish cedar humidors get it wrong sometimes. Especially if you're in an arid environment (like, say, Las Vegas), your humidor alone will not work to preserve your cigars. Likewise, if you are in a humid place (like Cuba), your cigars can spoil from over-humidification, becoming moldy and un-smokable.
That’s why aficionados always supplement their humidors with Boveda products – two-way humidity control packets that dial in the RH of the humidor. If the environment is too dry, the packet will release moisture; if it’s too humid, the packet will absorb moisture. It’s a foolproof (and surprisingly inexpensive) way to ensure that your cigars are always at peak freshness.
A Sharp, Quality Cutter
The next time you see someone try to wrench the end of a fine cigar with a dull pair of kitchen shears, stop them. At best, that blunt instrument will mangle the cigar cap, leaving behind tiny filaments of tobacco that get stuck to your tongue. At worst, it will upset the structural integrity of the cigar, causing the whole thing to unfurl into a messy, useless pile of leaves.
A sharp, quality cutter is pivotal when de-capping a cigar. If the cutter is dull or applied slowly, it can press on the cigar, smooshing and snapping it. By contrast, a dedicated, honed cutter will cleanly shear the cap – leaving you with a perfect opening for airflow.
A Butane Jet Lighter – Or Box of Wooden Matches
According to some die-hard cigar lovers, there are only two acceptable ways to light a stogie: wooden matches and a butane lighter.
Most other fire sources emit an undesirable odor and impart an off flavour. Zippos and other fluid lighters use petroleum distillate or naphtha, which have strong chemical aftertastes. And paper matches are often made with cheap chemical fillers and sulfuric tips (they also burn too quickly to light a cigar properly).
For a couple of dollars, you can find dedicated cigar matches online, which are the more – shall we say – sophisticated option. Or it’s perfectly acceptable to light your cigar quickly with a butane jet lighter, which burns cleanly and leaves no discernable aftertaste. Whatever you do, don’t light your cigar on the stove!
A Travel Case for On-the-Go Flavor
If you’re someone who routinely takes their cigars on the road, a cigar travel case is a sound investment. The best travel cases function like a moving humidor. They are airtight and leather-bound. Just pop a Boveda pack in the case, and you will have created an ideal RH for your cigars – wherever the destination.
If, at this point in the article, you’re starting to worry about the mounting costs of all these accessories, you can always use a plastic bag for travel. Even serious cigar lovers are willing to "MacGyver" a simple solution from inexpensive materials. Just make sure the plastic bag is tightly sealed and heavy-duty enough to withstand any tearing or holes caused by your jostling luggage.
An Ashtray to Fit Your Taste and Budget
There are no real rules when it comes to an ashtray. Some people use bespoke handcrafted ashtrays that cost hundreds of dollars. Others use a beer can. (Ok, maybe that second option is a little uncouth). The point is, find yourself an ashtray that fits your budget and taste.
You can find carved stone ashtrays that look like a piece of art. You can buy ashtrays specially designed to resist odor. There are ashtrays that feature a built-in cupholder for your snifter or rocks glass. It’s all up to personal preference. Just make sure you’re buying one with big enough holders (those indentations around the rim) to accommodate cigars.
A Suit and Tie Never Hurt
Lastly, while not strictly optional, consider a suit and tie for the occasion. Cigar smoking is a ritual built on civility, class and sophistication; dressing the part can make you feel more connected to that history.
Some people say that wearing a suit makes the cigar taste better. Obviously, that’s a playful and illogical claim, but there might be a grain of truth in it. When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re more likely to savor the finer things in life.
If you’re an occasional cigar appreciator hoping to become a full-blown aficionado, consider the accessories above. Some are more important than others (two-way humidity packs are essential, whereas a travel case isn’t, for instance). And no one’s saying you have to buy everything overnight. As you delve deeper into the hobby, you can slowly add these items to your collection.
For your investment, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of neatly cut, perfectly preserved, properly lit cigars that taste as good as they look.