If you are or want to become a cigar connoisseur then you have to learn about the importance of maintaining and protecting these beautiful works of art. A cigar newcomer will likely be freaked out by all the things that could go wrong; tiny beetles munching on the tobacco before you, mold resulting from wetness, and drying out – which could ruin an entire batch of cigars if you’re not careful.
One of the most interesting developments that you might notice, and will likely overreact to, is the appearance of bloom or plume. Unfortunately, many newcomers get plume and mold confused. How do you tell the difference? And what is plume for that matter?
Plume is solidified oil and there is nothing wrong with it. Actually, it’s a sign of aging and like wine, sometimes cigars get better with age. Mold is not the sign of aging, but of over-humidity, usually caused by too much moisture and a lack of absorption.
Understand that mold leaves a stain, even when you remove it from the cigar. Plume actually comes right off and does not leave any such stain. Plume tends to look gray or white, as opposed to mold, which takes on a greenish or bluish color. Mold also tends to look fuzzy rather than dusty. Plume disappears quite easily, just by rubbing it in most cases. The little crystals, or specks, it leaves behind are easy to manage compared to the ugly spots left by mold.
Believe it or not, most cigar lovers actually want plume to form as this shows the cigar is aging well and is pound to taste even better than its original state. More than a few are disappointed when plume doesn’t form—even when maintained in ideal conditions for plume to form. They see it as evidence that it’s time to have a great smoke!
If you are still unsure whether you have plume or mold, you could always take the specimen to an expert who can give you a final answer. Of course, circumstantial evidence always helps; if you have mold in the humidor then mold probably developed on the cigars themselves. (Be sure to clean the humidor with isopropyl alcohol. Air it out for a good while before putting your cigars back in. For the best results, measure the humidity using a hygrometer device. A good standard to aim for is 70 degrees and 70% humidity, as quality cigars are actually grown in tropical areas.What's the Difference Between Cigar Mold and Plume? by David Sabot