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Battle of the Boxes

There are fewer humidors on today's market and that's good news for consumers
Michael Moretti
From the Print Edition:
Gen. Tommy Franks, Nov/Dec 03

Things have come full circle in the business of humidors. Ten years ago, a few well-respected brands dominated the market. Five years later, there were dozens, many of dubious quality. Today, the market has thinned and resembles the 1992 market, with the addition of some venerable new boxes.

In our first humidor review, featured in the Winter 1992/93 issue of Cigar Aficionado, we surveyed 11 boxes. Our second test, conducted in the boom year of 1997, featured a veritable fleet of 42. Many proved to be inept at the considerably difficult art of maintaining humidity, and most of those boxes have since fallen by the wayside. This time we focused on a collection of 14 humidors. The personality of this group is that of a seasoned veteran, enduring where the boom boxes could not. We found many pieces of fine quality, and the overall performance of the group suggests that the market has stabilized. The best of these boxes continue to set the standard in the craft of humidor making. 

We began the review by treating the humidors according to the manufacturers' instructions and allowing them to acclimate over one week. Next, we added cigars to each humidor. We tested the humidity regularly, using the same digital hygrometer throughout the testing period. If the humidity rose too high, we added cigars; if it was considerably high, we also added cedar strips. If the humidity was too low, we refilled the humidification system. Our intention was to keep the humidity between 65 percent and 70 percent, the desired range for storing premium cigars. All humidors were kept in the same room, under the same temperatures, for the length of the test. 

After six weeks of testing, we brought each humidor before a panel of judges for discussion and rating, factoring in humidification performance over the test period, the construction of each piece, cost and appearance. The humidors were evaluated and scored using an alphabetical scale. Each humidor was judged on its own merit.


Daniel Marshall Limited Edition 20th Anniversary Treasure Chest

Veneer: Vavona burl; Interior: Spanish cedar; Capacity: 150 cigars; Humidification: Daniel Marshall System (one unit); Details: 24-karat gold fixtures, lock and key, magnetic cutter holder, magnetic refill calendar, digital hygrometer; comes with Daniel Marshall stainless steel guillotine cutter and 20 Daniel Marshall private-label cigars; Cost: $895; Contact: (800) 923-2889; Score: A

A celebrated veteran of the humidor business, California craftsman Daniel Marshall finds himself again at the top of the ratings with this large, stylish humidor. It is a great buy, given the accoutrements, size of the box and quality of its construction. The smoky, striking hazel veneer has a shimmering undertone. The humidor includes some nice extras: a magnet to hold a cigar cutter, a second magnetic system that serves as a calendar to remind you when it's time to refill the humidification device, as well as a cedar grate over the top of the humidifier, which dresses up the inside lid, giving it uniformity and balance. There is plenty of room for smokes, and the arched lid safeguards against scratches that might come from a flat top (should someone decide your humidor should double as a coaster or, say, a base for a doll collection). The humidor functioned very well; it didn't need a refill, never fell below 65 percent humidity and never rose above 70. It was still going strong at the review's end.


Davidoff No. 7

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Comments   3 comment(s)

Robert Sharpe — New York Mills, Ny, US,  —  June 14, 2013 9:50pm ET

I bought a Daniel Marshal Bally humidor that was listed on their special sale list. These are supposed to be humidors with minor cosmetic issues but perfect working condition. I did so after reading the rave reviews of this brand on the CA site. When I received it the box had a significant gap in the front causing it to leak enough air so that humidity never rose above room air. It must have been shipped this way. So now I'm out $500 plus $60 shipping both ways and am having a terrible time with customer service. I will never do business with them again. When you call, you get an answering machine. My Diamond Crown made in China works flawlessly. Daniel Marshal should be ashamed to have his nameplate in that garbage that should have been put on the burn pile. Beware of this manufacturer! :-(

clinton roos — mayo, Quebec, Canada,  —  October 4, 2013 1:30pm ET

The Treasure Dome got one over a year ago for $100 on CBid, very good quality and performs flawlessly.Change out the foam in the humidifiers for beads and salt calibrate the stock Hygrometer. Very nice spanish cedar interior and tight fitting lid. Top rate craftmanship and materials. Will hold 300 corona size easily.A sleeper really get one while still available cheap because they are worth a lot more.

William Collins January 22, 2014 10:33am ET

I strongly disagree with the review of the Arlin Liss Humidor. I purchased an Arlin Liss Humidor approximately 2 years ago. When I made the decision, I spoke to Arlin about the type of wood I wanted and the exact design of the box, capacity, humidification method, and hardware. His communication during the process was terrific. He emailed me photos from the rough wood (figured walnut) he used and throughout the process. It took less than a week. When I received the box, I was amazed at the craftsmanship. It holds approximately 50 cigars and keeps them at perfect humidity. Never had any issues with this box and it looks great. I would definitely recommend Arlin for a custom box of the highest quality.

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