What is the value of keeping cigars in their cellophane wrappers? Should the cellophane wrap of the cigars be removed before placing cigars in the humidor?
These are probably the most frequently asked questions by cigar smokers - and even the most seasoned aficionados may provide differing responses. The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer...YES, cellophane wrappers should be removed before placing cigars in the humidor; and NO, cellophane wrappers should not be removed before placing cigars in the humidor. So, cellophane on or off...well, it really depends...
What is cellophane? Cellophane is the thin, flexible, transparent protective material that some premium cigars are packaged in before they are boxed. Created in 1912, cellophane is made of the natural substance cellulose, which you may recall from science class to be the main component of the plant cell wall owing to its rigidity. The cellophane wrapper sleeves are machine-made and individual cigars are slipped into the sleeves in the cigar factory to prevent damage to the fragile wrapper of the cigars from excessive handling by customers in cigar shops, primarily since today many more cigars are sold individually, rather than in boxes. Cellophane also protects the cigars from losing too much humidity during transport.
Reasons to REMOVE cigars from the cellophane
Cellophane is a moisture barrier that keeps much needed humidity out as well as sealing it in, but not perfectly. The cellophane should be removed as it will prevent humidity from reaching the cigar - cigars will maintain proper humidification if the cellophane has been removed. This is also true for glass or aluminum cigar tubes. More air is allowed to circulate around the cigar and allow it to breathe more freely. In addition, the cellophane impedes the aging process that will occur within a properly humidified environment, like the humidor. So if you have intentions on aging certain cigars, it would behoove you to remove the cellophane. From the aesthetic perspective, your cigars will appear much more appealing if arranged nicely in your humidor au naturale!
Reasons to KEEP cigars in the cellophane
Actually, cellophane is porous and will allow a fair level of humidity contained in your humidor to adequately permeate your cigars. If you have a variety of cigar brands in the humidor, leaving the cellophane on will keep the oil excreted by the cigars from mixing with other cigars, which will change the characteristics of the individual cigars. The exchange and mixing of tobacco flavors is also known as "marrying" of cigars, which is fine if you have the same cigars stored together. I typically keep cigars that I plan to review retained in the cellophane, so I would be able to enjoy their intended flavors. Opening the ends of the cellophane wrapper is suggested to allow some air circulation while still keeping the cigars separate.
The cellophane will also protect your cigars from damage - each time you handle a cigar without its cellophane, you are removing some of its oils from the wrapper, as well as running the risk of over-handling and damaging the wrapper. The cellophane is also great if you plan to transport your cigars, or take them out with you, especially if you do not have a cigar case. It will provide an extra layer of protection in your breast or jacket/coat pocket, as it will keep the cigar wrapper from tearing when subjected to the friction. Even if you own a cigar case, the cellophane will help your cigars retain their moisture while in the case.
Some premium cigars are also wrapped in Spanish cedar, which not only provides protection, but intensifies the cedar aroma of the cigars - I NEVER remove the cedar wrapping, that's just my personal preference so completely up to you.
So...cellophane on or off? Again, it depends - on your intentions and preferences. Either way, ENJOY!