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Cigar Blogger Robert Hebenstreit from montehiba.blogspot.co.at conducted an open poll last year with his readers to send questions to Min Ron Nee, the author of the famous Cigar Bible, "The Illustrated History of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars". Min Ron Nee's responses to these questions shed light on some topics we have discussed often on our forum such as changes in cigar blends and cigar storage, especially long-term storage. I must admit, I certainly found the combination of lower temperature and relative humidity conditions intriguing, and I welcome further discussion on the matter. Storage at lower temperatures is not uncommon, with Edward Sahakian keeping his humidor in his London Davidoff store at 12.5°C (in an interview with James Suckling a few years ago) and our host keeps his on-line humidor at 14°C (I believe). I would like to thank Robert Hebenstreit for his permission to reprint this interview from his blog site at Montehiba Blog and I wish to request that your responses remain on-topic, considerate and thoughtful. Below is the full Question and Answer Series with Min Ron Nee: 1) If I may submit a question, it relates to the improved approachability of young Habanos ( say from 2013 onwards) versus older examples. Even brands such as Cohiba appear quite smokeable almost straight away, which does not appear to have been the case barely 5 years ago. Could MRN provide his opinion as to how and why this has happened? Might this be by design, or rather a happy (or perhaps not so happy in the long run) accident? Also of greater interest to me, is MRNs view of ageing potential of this recent Habanos ? Might this enhanced approachability now mean that these cigars have a shorter path to their peak ( and sharper decline?) than older leaf? Apologies for such a non marca specific query. Though it appears to me that this issue seems to be impacting all marcas. I know the answer to this question. But for all the sources who kindly provided me with all the information that I trust 100%, they would not like their names revealed. I could answer this question without naming my sources. But this is not ethical in my opinion. 2) I just wanted to know , if you have single sticks of Cuban cigars and if so , how do you store them in your humidor ? I have seen things from " you should keep them divided by brand to you should group them all together " , I just wondered what's the best way to store my single Cuban cigars ? I store single sticks long term in Ziploc bags, 12°C. And at 55 to 60% relative humidity. For single sticks that I wish to smoke, I remove the Ziploc bags, and store them at room temperature, 72% relative humidity, naked, in my cigar Eurocave for at least one month before I smoke them. I always mix different marcas and different ages of cigars, long or short term. No harm done as far as I am concerned. 3) The question on many lips: Any updates on the status of the 'The Book'? I love my 1st edition to pieces (literally) and have been very eager to see what MRN has put together with modern tech and the insights gained in the past decade. I am working on it. This is a very honest answer I can promise everyone. I do not set deadlines, as I am not obliged to. 4) I'd like to start off by saying thank you for doing this I have really enjoyed reading the first book and hope to delve into the second printing in the future My question is as far as cuban cigars go have you seen a change in the profiles that you described in the first book It seems to me that some of the cigars have had a bit of a change in their profile and wanted to get your opinion on the matter Yes there is a big change. But it requires careful wordings to even try to explain this. Once I offend my sources, people will not talk. 5) How do you deal with rarities which are sealed (e.g. sealed vintage boxes)? Do you open them and if not how do you make sure that you have purchased cigars in impeccable condition? I never open any sealed boxes to inspect. I have never encountered any problems with sealed boxes. Beetles cannot live within a sealed box, as fermentation would have consumed all oxygen available. No loss of flavours either. In short, there is no gamble when you buy a sealed box blind. No worries. 6) How do you decide when to open a vintage cigar box? I am a bit afraid to open such a box because it could be the best box in my life and I somehow want to keep „the magic“. I open them for no reasons. No rules. Sorry if I appear to be “arrogant”, as I am spoilt for choices. I bought a lot back in the 1990’s when supply was abundant and prices were dirt-cheap. 7) My question is about the aging potential (which is stated in years) in the Min Ron Nee book. How do you determine the years for each cigar? I guess it is driven by your personal long-term experience but are there any other possibilities? For me it is quite hard to anticipate if a cigar has the potential to age 3, 5, 10 years or even longer. I am just able to evaluate if a cigar needs more aging time or not. At the beginning I have assumed that the aging potential of powerful cigars is higher vs. light cigars. But I can’t confirm that based on my experience. I see different developments for cigars which I smoke frequently (e.g. RASS). I have noticed differences in the vintages - similar to wine. I truly appreciate your thoughts in this matter. Cigars are not wines. The year means nothing. The box date means the date the cigars were boxed, period. I am sorry to say that after 1995, there is no reliable way to determine the quality depending on the date code. And by the way, “powerful” does not mean great aging potential. The matter is way more complicated than this. For ALL pre-1995 cigars, all of them are smoking great now. 😎 How do you think about the future of cigars in the face of the tabbacco unfriendly environment? This is a question I would pass. I never embarrass people in Cuba. 9) Do you have favourites for you day to day smoke? If yes could you please name the top 3-5? No I have no favourites. I smoke what I have. I do sincerely thank God for this, whoever He is. Or for the Karma accumulated by my Ancestors. 10) How important is temperature for cigar storage? Many people in the cigar scene argue that a constant level of humidity is much more important than the temperature. The short answer is: nobody knows. For long-term aging, I store them like wine. 12°C. Mind you, there is no scientific evidence for this. And at 55 to 60% relative humidity. High humidity seems to be much more damaging to cigars versus high temperature. But again mind you: this is a one man’s opinion based on one man’s experience. 11) A lot of Aficionados / Vintage Cigar Dealers recommend to smoke Vintage Cigars which were stored at lower humidity. Could you please explain the reasons if you share the same opinion? Low RH, i.e., 55 to 60%, is essential for aging. This has been scientifically proven, but I am afraid this needs a lot of words to explain. In the future second edition MRN book, that is, if there is one, I shall explain the science behind this in detail, and with quoted scientific papers. 12) It is possible to revitalize dry stored cigars without losing quality? If yes – please share how to do it. Yes. That is, for the quality still remaining. There is no way to improve an expired cigar due to prior bad storage. For smoking, store them in a humidor at room temperature and 72% relative humidity, naked, for at least one month before smoking. Never rush this time frame. For long-term aging, I store them inside a Ziploc bag. I store cigars at temperature like wine. 12°C. For relative humidity, at 55 to 60% relative humidity. This RH is based on everyone’s experiences, and according to scientific researches that I have found. 13) How has it developed that you have become a collector, passionate cigar smoker and book author? Long story. I like to have a little bit of privacy. 14) I have read that there are a lot of seasoned cigar collectors / vintage cigar smokers in Hong Kong. Could you please explain why this is especially in HK the case? For example, London (where you can also find many experienced Aficionados) has a long history of tobacco. Honestly I do not know. When I was born the sophisticated cigar culture is already here in Hong Kong. And I do not think this is due to British influence, as local Chinese people and British people did not mix in the old days, because of language problems I suppose. 15) What was the initial idea to publish the cigar encyclopedia under a pseudonym? It is a great book and you could be very proud of it. From my point of view the majority of the cigar community is very open & friendly. Long story involving many people. I think I’ll pass this question.