I've been enjoying a cigar from time to time since the mid 90's. Even though I only smoke about one or two a week I still have a large collection and I thought I would share my humidor (coolerdor) and flavoring projects.
As I said, I started smoking cigars in the mid 90's. At that time I also started purchasing a huge amount of cigar paraphernalia (humidors, cutters, lighters, hygrometers, etc). As time went on I started to simplify what I was using. While building this webpage I took the opportunity to clean out some stuff that had been laying around for a while. I'll have to give someone all these unused humidors and cigar holders in the near future:
So, if this is all junk, what exactly am I currently using. Well, the first thing you need is a good humidor. Your cigars are supposed to stay humid and cool and this helps out. I was using a fairly nice wood/glass humidor with drawers and pull out trays (yes, it is the one in the picture above). It was pretty and was a nice conversation piece (everyone loves a good looking humidor) but it won't really do what you need it to do. Sure, all the magazines and the humidor manufactures will say it is the cat's meow but you want something better once you get serious about cigars. I built my current humidor out of a 28 qt Coleman cooler:
I figure my coolerdor will hold around 300+ cigars. To keep the humidity constant I built two humidifiers out of plastic Tupperware type containers. The first thing you need is some of that green foam that Wal-Mart sells by the fake flowers. You know, the stuff you always poked your fingers into when you were a kid. There are two types of green foam. Make sure you get the type that will absorb water.
You also need a sheet of plastic needle point canvas:
Fill up a plastic container with the green stuff and cut the plastic canvas so that it covers the green. Then just cut a hole in the top to allow the humidity to exchange between your coolerdor and the humidifier. Then go to the drug store and get a bottle of Propylene Glycol. This is the stuff that they will use in the pharmacy to mix up cough syrup type medicines. You will probably have to call around because I hear that not all drug stores will sell you the stuff. Anyway, get a bottle of that and some distilled water. A 50/50 mixture of the two will keep the humidity exactly at 70% in your humidore. It also keeps mold off your cigars. I have found that I only need to fill up my humidifiers maybe once every 2 years (just add a little bit more distilled water). Just a side note - You can also use damp table salt instead of Propylene Glycol / water. It will maintain a 73% humidity but is a PITA to deal with:
Once I built my two humidifiers I just put them in the bottom of my coolerdor. Here is what one looks like with 100 cigars beside it. Still plenty of room:
I keep my coolerdor in my bedroom closet (the coolest part of the house). Even though I have cigars all over the house "cooking" (more on that later) I currently have the coolerdor stocked with about 250 cigars:
Cooking? Yes, I have found that even though I have a ton of Cubans and really nice cigars I enjoy the ones that I make more than the expensive ones. Once a year make a pilgrimage to JR Cigars (Statesville, NC) and buy some cheap mild cigars. Go to their website and do a search for "PLAZAS" and "DELICADOS" and you will find some cigars that are around $65 per hundred. What I do is age the cigars for about a year and then put them in an air tight container with a shotglass full of flavoring (the cigars do not touch the liquid). After 6 months the batch is done and I smoke them. The picture shows a few batches being cooked. I normally have several batches going at once because it takes so long for them to cook. Vanilla extract is my favorite (Amaretto is also very good) but I try all different types of liquor. I'm currently setting up to do a few batches of orange, cherry, and pineapple extract as well as Seagrams 7 Dark Honey. I'll post something in 6 months when they are done and let everyone know how they came out:
UPDATE: Vanilla is still my favorite after trying the orange, cherry, and pineapple. The Seagrams was pretty good but the cigars came out kind of damp. I just plan in advance so when I want to smoke one I leave it out of the jar for a few hours. This dries it out and it smokes better.
I've turned one of the jars around so you can see how I setup the batch. Notice that the liquid stays in the shotglass and does not touch the cigars: