There's No Such Thing as Plume on Cigars: Let's Stop this Nonsense
Cigar plume or bloom is entirely fabricated. There is no evidence to suggest that plume exists and claims of such things have almost always been debunked. Unfortunately, many in the cigar industry continue to perpetuate this falsehood and this means that cigar aficionados are being mislead.
What Is Cigar Plume (Bloom)
Plume is supposedly a substance that appears on the surface and indicates the cigars are stored correctly and aging well. The idea is that the oils and sugars in the leaves crystallize and appear on the surface of the cigar. Many consider this a badge of honor and something to be proud of. It's also common for retailers to describe the substance as being plume and often avoid wiping it off the cigars.
The key thing to understand is that if the substance has formed from the oils and sugars then it should have a crystalline structure. Mold on the other hand, will appear to have an organic structure
A Closer Look
The image above shows a box of Vegueros Mananitas with a box date of February 2020. At the time of writing this, most cigar aficionados will probably accept that these cigars have not been aged for a long enough period of time. It's difficult to believe that cigars that are just over a year old could have gone through a significant portion of the aging process. It's simply not a long enough amount of time. Therefore we can assume that the substance hasn't come about due to the oils and sugars forming crystals on the surface of the cigar.
We can also take a closer look at these cigars and make some definitive conclusions about what the actual substance is. Looking at the images below, it's clear that the substance has an organic structure and is in-fact mold.
The structure of the substance clearly demonstrates that it is mold. The mold is fungal like in structure and there are many spores all across the surface of the cigar.
This may be a pretty obvious one because the cigars are quite young. To combat this, we have a another set of images below.
The cigars above are the La Gloria Cubana 25 Aniversario LCDH and they arrive in a specially made humidor. These cigars are aged and once again, many would consider the substance on the surface to be plume. However, if we look closer at the structure, the substance is almost identical to that found on the Vegueros cigars. There are many spores and cultures that have formed on the surface of the cigar. There’s absolutely no way that anyone could consider this substance to be crystalline in structure. Effectively this is quite obviously mold on these relatively pricey and aged cigars.
Retailers are Adapting
Due to the advent of social media and access to better camera technology, many customers have been able to debunk this myth completely. Friends of Habanos for instance, conducted a mini study on a range of cigars to determine if any of them had the mythical plume on them. After a closer look at the cigars it was clear that every single one had mold on them.
Since this study a number of retailers have started to accept that the substance is in fact mold. It’s quite difficult to continue perpetuating this myth with such overwhelming evidence. However, retailers are adapting and now calling this mold a “good kind of mold”. Essentially, retailers are finally accepting that it is actually mold, however they insist there are two kinds – the good kind that you want and the bad kind that you don’t.
Some retailers have described the substance to be similar to cheese bloom and have confirmed that it’s not a crystallized substance. Cheese bloom is something that forms from Penicillium camemberti.
In essence, the claim is that mold on the surface of the cigar is good because it seems to prefer perfect aging conditions. After a long period of time, this mold appears on cigars and demonstrates a good degree of age. They also claim that this mold only appears on the surface and does not penetrate the leaf. This is definitely false.
The conditions required for mold to form is generally a little warmer and more humid than what many would consider ideal for aging cigars.
Also, mold on the surface of the cigar is merely a portion of the total infestation. The spores are what form at the end of the mold cycle and are used to spread the fungus. It’s difficult to see exactly how far deep into the cigar the mold has penetrated. The video below goes into detail about mold and why it’s not correct to assume that it’s only on the surface.
The other problem is that it's not always clear if the kind of mold on your cigars are safe. To compare it to cheese bloom is extremely irresponsible because the mold could be harmful. This would be akin to seeing mold on bread and claiming that the bread has aged or developed bloom. Obviously that would quite ridiculous.
It's important to remember that cheese bloom is formed intentionally and through a controlled process. Mold on bread isn't produced in the same manner and niether is mold on cigars.
The idea of plume has existed for quite some time, although it's not clear how or where it originated. A wide number of cigar smokers assume that it's a myth from retailers and cigar merchants that wish to offload moldy stock. Of course this is entirely speculation, however, there does seem to be some logic behind that assumption.
In many cases, the mold on cigars could be harmless and you can simply wipe it off and smoke them. However, this isn't always the case and if you receive cigars with mold on them from a retailer, you should be requesting a refund or a reship. You wouldn't accept moldy food and you shouldn't accept moldy cigars. Considering the price of these luxury products, customers should expect better. Your cigars should not have mold on them and if they do it's because they are over humidified or not correctly stored.
This recent notion of some mold being good on cigars is in defiance of intelligent thought. It's merely an adaptation of an ill-begotten myth that was debunked. In essence, plume was proven to be false so some retailers had to come up with something else to offload moldy stock.
Ultimately there is absolutely no evidence in support of a crystalline form of plume. It's is an empty and petty claim that has come from ignorance or greed. Those that continue to assert that such a thing called plume exists must provide evidence. If you cannot provide the evidence then your claim has no merit and should be retracted immediately.