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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 3)

Desk Pro Inc.
Woodmere/$420
(800) 920-3375

Capacity: 125
Interior: Aromatic Cedar
Humidification: Accurate 70 (two)
Details: Two adjustable dividers, analog hygrometer
Score: C-

This is a tacky looking, poorly made humidor. The lid was already checking (coming apart at the joints) by the end of our test. The exterior finish is crude and cloudy. There is, however, a well-designed console on the inside of the lid that houses the hygrometer and both humidifiers, which kept the cigars in reasonably good condition.

John Snedeker Woodworking
Monterrey H300 Macassar Ebony/$830
(803) 722-6411

Capacity: 75-100
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: Western Humidor Humifier 2000
Details: Two adjustable dividers, lock and key, analog hygrometer
Score: C-

This is a nice mahogany box, but an ineffective humidor. The humidity level ran well above the desirable 70 to 72 percent, causing mold to develop on some cigars. The other cigars were too soggy to smoke. Adding more cigars didn't solve the problem. The lock and brass handles are chintzy, but the black-and-brown marbled exterior is attractive and the workmanship is quite good. But none of that matters if the cigars are unsmokable.

Caribbean Cigar
Cuban Craftsman Cove Inlay/$199
(305) 267-3911

Capacity: 100
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: Credo Epsilon
Details: No hygrometer, no dividers
Score: D+

There isn't much to this piece, which is as light as an empty cigar box. Made of solid Spanish cedar, the lid closes only under heavy pressure. The joints fit fairly well, but they are rough, and the box does not look or feel as if it can withstand long-term use. It was impossible to keep the Credo stuck to the lid, and we had to refill it twice with water, but at the end of the test the cigars were in decent shape. This is a budget, high-maintenance humidor that is functional.

Abbey Cigar Products
AEH50 Oak/$100
(800) 663-8768

Capacity: 50
Interior: Red cedar
Humidification: HumiStor
Details: No hygrometer
Score: D

This is a bare-bones box. It has very little detailing and comes with neither a hygrometer nor any dividers. It kept the cigars in smokable condition, but just barely; the humidity ran a little low throughout the test. The interior wood is a strong, aromatic cedar (not Spanish cedar) that could affect the flavor of cigars over time.

Cigar Essentials
Alente 100/$575
(519) 473-7905

Capacity: 100
Interior: Brazilian mahogany
Humidification: Humi Pak
Details: Two dividers
Score: D

The Alente is plain and roughly finished with a painted wood exterior. The interior is rather austere. Those are the positives. This box has major flaws. It took two hands to open--one to hold down the box, one to pry open the reluctant lid, making us wonder if the manufacturer was trying to keep us from smoking. One hinge actually broke at the conclusion of our test. Even when it was in place, the lid wouldn't fully close; after the hinge broke the gap grew even larger. The Alente's humidity was consistently high throughout the test and the cigars were soggy and soft. We added more cigars, but that didn't fully correct the problem. This is no place for your good smokes.

Decatur Industries
#1000/$450
(800) 556-7111

Capacity: 100
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: Decatur Industries
Details: Hygrometer, thermometer, routed tray, one divider
Score: D

This humidor has unforgivable flaws. The biggest is its inadequate and cheap humidification system. Made of unattractive plastic with a faux wood grain, it couldn't even begin to provide enough humidity for this size box. The cigars in the top tray were slightly dry, those at the bottom were drier still. We never could get the humidity above 65 percent, and it went down below 60 percent at times. The lid hinge is substandard, the handles are cheap, the finish is poor and the cedar inserts have rough corners. The routed tray minimizes the storage space for cigars, although it is unique and fairly attractive. An adequate humidification system would make this an average, workable piece.

Extraordinary Humidor
B100/$1,500-$1,600
(714) 366-0290

Capacity: 100
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: Credo Precision 70
Details: Hygrometer, tray, two dividers, lock and key
Score: D

Most humidors are made from thin veneers of exotic wood. Not this one. It's constructed of solid woods, making it very heavy. While that sounds like a good idea, it doesn't work here, and it's a shame. The lid on this piece--a three-quarter-inch-thick slab of Afzelia burl from Laos--is breathtaking, beautiful to the eye and magical to the touch. But at the conclusion of our test, this humidor was falling apart. The front joints were splitting, leaving ugly gaps. The interior is crudely finished, hardly the equal of the exterior. The dividers are simply ill-fitting pieces of Spanish cedar. More important, there is a problem of function. The box is not breathing properly. Humidity levels ran in the upper 70s and low 80s throughout the test. We doubled the number of cigars in the humidor to try to absorb the excess humidity, but even they were exceptionally moist at the end of the test. Some had even split from the moisture. This is an extraordinary piece of furniture, but a failure as a humidor.

Wellington Humidor (Almar International)
Beaverbrook Rosewood/$190
(800) 646-8834

Capacity: 75
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: Almar #88 Humidity Regulator
Details: Hygrometer, one divider
Score: D

While this humidor kept our cigars in decent shape after one refill, the appearance of this piece is unprofessional at best. The painted wood finish is rough. The wooden hinges feel as if you could snap them with your fingers. The hygrometer and humidification element hang precariously from a rippled sheet of cedar that is peeling off the inside lid. The felt strips that keep the divider in place fell off during the test. Many of the joints have gaps, and you risk getting a splinter if you rub your hands along parts of the box. Inexpensive, and it shows.

G.A. Andron
La Flor de la Isabela/$110
(800) 221-1634

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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