Congratulations on a first long term storage solution for prized sticks, but before you drop H. Upmanns and Hoyo de Monterreys into that gleaming box, some prep work and (if you’ll permit us) guidance is needed. First: don’t ever clean or rinse the inside of the humidor with tap water, as it will damage the cedar lining. If it must be cleaned for some reason (now or later), just lightly dampen a cloth with distilled water and use that.

Establishing Humidity: If your humidor comes equipped with a humidifier (and most do), add Propylene Glycol Activation Solution to it until it’s saturated. Dry off the humidifier surface and place it on a cloth for an hour to make certain that no dripping will occur. (We’ve seen novices use distilled water to charge their humidifier, but that can cause a variety of problems. Don’t do it.)

Now fill a cup or dish with water, place it inside the humidor, close, then check the humidity inside after a day. Do not add any cigars until the humidity reaches 65% to 70% a process that requires two days to two weeks depending on climate and humidor size. Your storage is now ready. One last tip: When placing sticks, make sure they do not block humidifier vents, or all that effort will at least partially be in vain.

Fresh Sip
There is something poignant yet practical about the way Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery warehousing works. Not only are all its casks housed on site, the head distiller (or “blender”) is, too. And that’s not as common a thing as one might think to have such an exec within a two mile radius of all maturing stock. And, for the first time in its 139 year history, this small but legendary Islay maker of exclusively single malts is releasing its super heavily peated whisky at just three years of age. An Octomore whisky matured full term in Limousin virgin oak and bottled at cask strength, the Octomore 10.4 was aged in 28 casks that were subjected to a high toast seasoning before making their way to the filling facility. The result is a high tannic impact, then toasty smoke giving way to a dry fruit character that’s impeccably wellrounded. A gorgeous and unexpected delight, and which will retail for about $180 on these shores.

Northwell Spread

A 200 year old and suitably Havana styled home on Eatontown, NJ’s Main Street encloses a small miracle: a place where the Cortez family has managed to bring time honored cigar making traditions to the center of the Garden State. “After years of working with different cigar companies and training in Cuba and in the Dominican Republic, my brother and I combined expertise and started creating unique blends of tobacco that we could call our own,” said Luis Cortez. The business, which recently launched an additional location in Long Branch (open April through October), also maintains a factory in the Dominican Republic, where most of its wholesale blends are manufactured; but a good percentage are produced and manufactured right in the New Jersey shop, which features high ceilings, a private lounge, and an expansive walk in humidor. One remarkable blend that this staff has grown to admire is Cortez Cigars’ San Andres Robusto its Mexican Valley wrapper and Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan filler and binder combining for a medium intensity but smooth smoke, with delicious pepper notes (a hallmark of fi ne Mexican tobacco). 20 count, 50 x 6, $180. 152 Main Street, Eatontown / 23 2nd Avenue, Long Branch / 971 Thayer Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland / 732.530.1222,

In 1981, distant relatives Kurken Berksanlar and Serop Beylerian combined respective creativity chops and an understanding of wood construction to form the company Bey Berk International its products expanding from a single porthole style clock to a catalog of more than 2,000 pieces, from game boxes to humidors that combine mid-price range with upper tier materials and execution.

A great starter box for cigar lovers looking to invest properly but not extravagantly, their Ebony Wood Humidor stores up to 100 sticks at a humidity that ensures best flavor, aroma, and moisture. It comes with a digital hygrometer and a humistat, so users can pick and experiment with conditions suited to their climate. The exterior is finished in lacquered ebony, making it a real eye catcher, while the interior is lined with Spanish cedar. Featuring a front key lock and pull out tray, with a handsome dome top that extends the open height to 16.5 inches (10.25 inches wide and 6.5 inches deep). $518,