Keep the cello or remove the cello?
One of the questions we’re most commonly asked on proper cigar storage is, “Leave the cello on or take it off?” Let’s cover what cello is and what purposes it serves.
Cellophane (cello) is an organic material commonly made from trees. It’s not always a clear film, but it almost always is when it relates to cigars. Cello transmits water vapor about 7 times slower than a naked cigar. This means a cello-wrapped cigar is less sensitive to shifting humidity levels than a naked cigar. For example, if you had two identical cigars stored in the same 70% humidor and put them on your desk in a dry environment, it would take 7 times longer for the naked cigar to turn into kindling. For this reason alone, cello is a short insurance policy against humidity/temperature fluctuations in the manufacturer’s supply chain. And with a Boveda in the box, these fluctuations are completely irrelevant for a much longer period, because Boveda is adding or removing moisture to maintain 69% in the box.
Cello also gives the delicate wrapper a small layer of physical protection. It shields the cigar wrapper from damage when you’re stocking your humidor or tossing one in your pocket for a dinner party. And if you’re using gel/crystal/beads in your humidor, cello will reduce the chance of ruining your cigars from the 100% humidity they emit – because they can’t remove moisture.
Now the big question – does cello influence the flavor of a cigar? Scientifically, no. Given enough time, everything that happens to an unwrapped cigar happens to one with a cello sheath. But what about the smokers that swear cello does make a difference? Do you know why they do scientific studies with a placebo group? Because if you’re told you’re taking a medicine, you’re inclined to think it works, even if you’re taking the placebo. The really crazy thing is that if even when subjects are told they’re in the placebo group, they’re still inclined to perceive the intended effects! So if you believe cigars are better without cello, then remove the cello. Cigars are a matter of mood, experience and going to a place in your mind, so we encourage you to go there – cello or not. It’s the same reason that smoking an Opus the day your dog dies won’t be as good a cigar as a dime store cigar on the day you win the lottery. Gray matter between your ears has a lot to do with cigars.
Why do some manufacturers use cello and others don’t? Part of it’s tradition. Cubans aren’t cello-ed. Since Cuba is still regarded the cigar mecca, if just for the traditions, there’s a certain feel to a box of cigars that aren’t in cello. It hearkens back the “old days” and the romance of cigars. It’s aspirational. It’s elegant. Padron and Tatuaje are just a couple that do this very well. At the same time, few brands have as rich a history as Fuente, yet many of their cigars are wrapped in cello.
Thankfully, personal preference will still persist. There’s no doubt cello serves an effective purpose, without a downside. But if you’re careful with your cigars and you’re storing them with the global leader in 2-way humidity control, the only thing you need to wonder about is when you’ll smoke the next one.