Just like aficionados all over the world, i took some time to have tasty cigars over Christmas and Boxing Day. With the extra time i had on my hands, it was easy to just sit back and enjoy myself with a good cup of coffee and a couple of cigars. Woke up really early this morning, mostly because i’m an early riser, but also because i wanted to get some quiet time alone before the rest of the family woke up (my mother and brother in-law were visiting).

So, in the dawn of the day, i sat down outside, had a great cup of Nescafe Gold Roast to accompany my favourite minutos, a Diplomaticos #5. This is a cigar that i have been dry boxing for the last 24 hours, so i knew that it was going an interesting cigar. Dry boxing takes a bit of pre-planning, so that can be a nuisance especially when i’m a compulsive smoker, always looking for something different everyday. But there are times when the trouble is worth it, and a quiet hour alone on a Sunday morning on Boxing Day surely counts as of those times.

Dry boxing is an interesting experiment. My chiller keeps 15 or so boxes at a constant 18 Celcius and 65% RH. But the cigars tend to get a little bit moist, perhaps due to the exposure to condensation that naturally happens in a refridgerator. So even if don’t dry box them, i usually leave a cigar just out of the chiller at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so that it can acclimatize to the ambient smoking environment before lighting up. If this isn’t done, i’ve found that the cigar tends to burn moist, and besides the burn and combustion problem this obviously creates, the flavour profile gets thrown off somewhat — imagine smoking wet dried leaves, and you’ll get an idea of what i mean. It’s not BAD, it’s just not ideal.

Dry boxing takes that 30 minutes of time i normally give the cigar and turns it to 24-48 hours. I have several desktop Spanish cedar humidors, and one of them is the appointed dry box. No humidification device in this small 25-count humidor, just an empty box. The humidor, over the dry box period, sucks the excess moisture out of the cigar, and returns it to “normal”, ideal for smoking. Not too long, 24 hours is just nice, 48 if i want an even drier smoke (which is very rare, almost never). If i happen to leave a stick in there for any longer than that, i don’t smoke it, and put it back into the chiller for another day.

How does my normal 30 minute ritual compare to a 24 hour dry box — it does make quite a difference. Combustion improves dramatically, and flavours tend to be more pronounced. But, damn my lack of patience, 24 hours is generally too long to pre-plan a cigar smoking event. Unless of course, its a special day like today when i have all the time in the world, and i want to kick the day off with a bang. Which the Diplomaticos #5 did admirably, i must add.

Later on in the day, i had an excellent Bolivar Gold Medal from 09. This cigar only had 15 minutes rest time once out of the chiller, but it burned like a champ, and delivered a ton of classic Bolivar flavours. Nutty, toasted walnuts, caramel thick bitterness. Smoked it to the nub, till my fingers burned.

It’s not everyday i go 2 sticks a day. But its a holiday, i had the time, and the cigars just rounded off the family visit and home cooked meals perfectly. I love the holidays.