Ever buy a cigar from your Tobacconist (hopefully from BnB Tobacco) or reach into your humidor and notice something on your stogie? Lots of cigar smokers have, and have had varying degrees of reactions and outcomes. There are two main possibilities for what could be on your cigar: Mold, Plume (or Bloom). Each has their own characteristics, outcomes, and rules, so let’s get down to the differences.
A phenomenon like Pluming (or Blooming, the terms are interchangeable) is actually a good thing, so if you have this on your cigar, you either bought or produced a very well-aged cigar. What happens is some of the oils in the tobacco will actually work their way to the surface during long aging and form small crystals. However, this looks nothing like the more sinister Mold, and will almost always form a more-or-less even coating over the whole cigar. It may give the appearance of being dusty or hazy, and depending on how much oils the cigar contains and how log it has been aged, it could become noticeably “dusty” looking. However, unlike Mold, Bloom will easily wipe off with a (very) soft cloth or be brushed off with your finger. Under a magnifying glass or in good light, you should be able to identify it as a crystalline substance and it may have a faint shimmer. It’s said to never occur on the cigar’s foot. Simply brush off and enjoy!
Mold? Like on Bread?
Yes, dear smoker, the next and worst possibility is that your stick actually has Mold. The best way to distinguish mold is that, well, it looks like Mold. You’ve probably had a loaf of bread that sat a little too long, so you should be familiar with the hairy, splotchy and discolored look of mold. Hopefully, your cigar isn’t that infected so as to look like one of those examples, but this is a broad example. The best way to identify mold is to get a magnifying glass and really study the stick.
- Do you see the issue forming spots that look hairy and yellowish, bluish or greenish?
- Does the issue leave stains where it was?
- Is the issue on the foot of the cigar, at all?
Sorry, friend, you’ve got Mold. But, there are a number of things that can be done to try and save the stick. Note that while you might be able to save it and it be safe to smoke, the mold may produce off or foul flavors that might not make you want to save it.
Who You Gonna Call? Mold Busters!
The fact that mold is a living thing makes it hard to remove it from a stick, because it does have roots. If you can, scrape it off with either your nail or maybe a small pocketknife. After you’ve done that, consider applying some strong alcohol like Vodka or 151-proof rum to the areas where the mold was. This’ll help kill the roots and make sure your stick doesn’t get re-infected. You should also give a thorough sniff and visual inspection in a few days to make sure more isn’t growing. You should also remove this stick from your Humidor and thoroughly inspect all other sticks in the box, as well as the walls of the box itself to make sure more mold is not present there.
In short, you should always give your cigar a quick once over to make sure that there isn’t anything that shouldn’t be there. Plume is a sign of a well-aged cigar but should take months of proper aging. Mold, on the other hand will ruin a cigar. If you had a cigar with mold storing in your humidor, make sure that you’re following the “70” rule of 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered the “optimal” storage range.