You can tell if a cigar is dry by rolling it between your fingers. If you hear a cracking sound, the cigar is very dry. Good cigars with the proper moisture level feel resilient and firm. If the surface of the cigar is cracked or wrinkled, the cigar has been exposed to an environment with fluctuating humidity content, which is detrimental to the cigar’s structure. A good cigar has a smooth surface with a slightly oily texture.
After production, the cigars contain 12-15% moisture. And this is the perfect moisture content for a cigar to be smoked. The tobacco leaves release the sugars and oils they contain at this moisture level to release the full bouquet of flavors and notes. They are what you taste when you smoke. If the moisture content of a cigar is outside of the above range, the aroma and flavor of the cigar will be compromised and it will burn unevenly or too hot. In addition, if a cigar is too dry, tobacco flakes will fly around you when you smoke it and the taste will be bitter.
Cigars are quite hygroscopic, meaning they absorb or release moisture from their surroundings. If a cigar is left out in sunny, hot, or windy conditions, it will dry out for a few hours. When all the essential oils evaporate, the flavor and aroma of the cigar are lost. The original flavor of a completely dried-out cigar is hardly restored, even if the cigar is exposed to high humidity.
The Pinch Test
This is another way to check the cigar’s freshness. Do the pinch test by gently pressing the foot of the cigar between your thumb and index finger. A cigar with a proper moisture content will yield a little and return to its original shape as soon as you stop pressing. Many aficionados like to squeeze their cigars from head to toe to check their structure and see if they have crisp veins. The best cigars have even structure from head to toe. If you squeeze too hard, you can crack the wrapper, so be careful.
The pinch test should be done after you receive your cigars or when choosing a cigar. For example, if the cigars have been shipped for a week, they will need a few days in the humidor to reach the perfect moisture range for smoking. This way, you can check the freshness of the cigar.
The moisture content of the cigar affects the interaction of sugars, essential oils, and tobacco leaves during smoking. A cigar containing a moisture content of 12-15% guarantees good burn and enjoyment. And that’s why you should learn how to tell if your cigar is dry.
Take care of the dry cigar before smoking it. Also, remember that dried-out cigars are not good, no matter how expensive or rare they are!