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Humidors: How They Stack Up

David Savona, Brendan Vaughan
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 13)

Capacity: 50
Interior: Mahogany
Humidification: Tray with a square piece of white foam
Details: Two stationary dividers, tray, hygrometer
Score: D-

This blond mahogany humidor looks as bad as it performs. Even at $110, it's not worth it. The humidity source, a white sponge in a lucite tray, is completely ineffective; the cigars dried out, despite adding water every week. The lid opens too far, almost pulling the humidor back with it, and it doesn't stay shut, either. We'll say it again: you get what you pay for.

David Savona is the senior editor of Cigar Insider, Marvin Shanken's monthly cigar newsletter. Brendan Vaughan is the assistant editor of Cigar Insider and the manager of on-line services for Cigar Aficionado. Seasoning a Humidor

It takes time, patience and a little know-how to get a new humidor ready to hold cigars. You're trying to recreate the tropical environments where most cigars are made, and you can't rush the process. Putting cigars into a dry humidor can ruin good smokes.

Most humidors have an interior made of untreated Spanish cedar, the preferred wood for humidifying and aging premium cigars. The wood needs to be humidified, or seasoned, before the box is ready to hold cigars. (Some humidors, such as those made by Michel Perrenoud, have varnished or finished wood interiors that don't need to be seasoned.)

Take a new sponge--make sure it is unscented and free of soap--and wet it with a liberal dose of distilled water. Wipe down all the exposed wood, including any trays and dividers, and the interior lid. Avoid using a paper towel or a fraying cloth; these will literally leave a paper trail on the wood. After you've wiped down the wood, squirt the sponge with more distilled water, then place it inside the humidor on a plastic bag--to avoid direct contact with the wood--and close the lid.

Next, prepare your humidification device according to the manufacturer's instructions. Unless the manufacturer specifically states that you can use tap water, use only distilled water. Tap water contains minerals that will destroy most humidification systems by leaving deposits that will clog the humidor element. Once the humidification element is filled, be sure to wipe it down to remove all the excess water. Rest it on a hand towel for approximately 30 minutes.

Close the humidor with its humidifying element and the damp sponge, and leave it overnight. The next day, refresh the humidification device (it may not need it) and check the sponge. If it is fairly dry, add more distilled water. If it is very damp, leave it alone.

Let the humidor sit another night, and then remove the sponge and plastic bag. The walls of the humidor have now absorbed all the water they need, and now you can safely store your cigars. --DS

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