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Progress Report: Humidor Ratings

Cigar Aficionado Rates Humidors with Staying Power
Stacey C. Rivera
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99

As we forecasted in our previous humidor review, the cream has risen to the top. Fly-by-night humidor makers have dropped out of the market and the remaining companies are paying increased attention to quality.  

In 1997, Cigar Aficionado rated 42 desktop humidors. At the time, it seemed that every company that could get its hands on Spanish cedar and a circular saw had a model on the market. Although some of the units we tested then showed promise, many were disappointing. In deciding to embark upon another humidor review, we wanted to focus on the best of the market, so we asked a select group of humidor makers to send us what they considered their best box.  

We charged the humidification device in each humidor with distilled water and allowed it to sit in the box for a weekend. The devices were then recharged and left for several more days. Those that had dried out were filled again. The boxes were then loaded with 10 cigars and kept under the same conditions for six weeks. We checked humidity levels once a week using the same digital hygrometer and noted the conditions of the cigars. Ten more cigars were added if the humidor became too moist. Distilled water was added when the humidor was too dry. At the end of six weeks, a panel of editors evaluated each humidor based on construction, design, beauty and performance. We also rewarded humidors that performed well for a lower price.  

DAVIDOFF
Number 1 Thuya $3,605 / (203) 323-5811
Capacity: 140-170
Interior:
Mahogany
Humidification:
Two large passive units proprietary to Davidoff
Details: Tray, dividers, lock and key, no hygrometer
Score:
A+

This humidor lives up to the Davidoff reputation for top-quality craftsmanship and hardware and earned the highest rating in our test. It is a beautiful box with clean lines and an elegant lock and key. The lid is of good weight and sits solidly in place, attached with a durable, full piano hinge. The side handles are countersunk and perfectly flush with the box, allowing for function while not disturbing the form of the unit. During the six weeks of testing, the box required refilling only once and maintained humidity levels within the optimal range. The only flaw we could find, and we were looking for one, is that there is no hygrometer included with the box. The company philosophy is that such a device is unnecessary since its humidity regulator should achieve consistent levels without monitoring.  

DANIEL MARSHALL
Daniel Marshall Series 1999/165 Cigar Humidor in Vavona Burl $595 / (800) 923-2889
Capacity:
165
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: One Credo 70 passive device made for Daniel Marshall
Details: Magnetic marking calendar, dividers, digital hygrometer, lock and key, brass plaque, distilled water and five Daniel Marshall cigars
Score:
A  

The best buy of the boxes we rated is the Daniel Marshall humidor. It achieves an elegant look while performing as well as, if not better than, the higher-priced units. The box has a beautiful burl veneer. Inside, an attractive cedar container does an excellent job of dressing up the humidification device. The hinges are durable and provide a whisper-soft seal when the lid is closed. A magnetic calendar inside the lid functions as a discreet reminder--one we find smokers need--to recharge the Credo. Some editors felt the handles and lock detracted from the look of the humidor. Thankfully, mounting and engraving the brass plaque is reserved as an option, as some would prefer not to ruin the look of the burl with a nameplate. Adding to the good value, Marshall even throws in five of his own premium cigars.  

MANNING
Walnut & Myrtle Radius
$1,350 / (800) 414-8522
Capacity:
100
Interior:
Solid Spanish cedar
Humidification: One passive device, proprietary to Manning
Details: Tray, dividers, lock and key, no hygrometer
Score:
A  

Impeccable construction and craftsman-like details are the hallmarks of this humidor. The solid cedar box is covered in a beautiful, painstakingly matched inlay, and the formidable lid closes into two cedar seals. The Manning humidification system releases humidity through slits on the sides of the device rather than on the top, virtually insuring that water won't drip on the cigars and cause mold or worse. During the test the unit ran a little dry and the cigars took some time to come into their own, but in the end the cigars were in good condition. This is a humidor that will benefit from seasoning. While Manning is fairly new to the humidor market, the Ireland-based company has been making cabinets for generations. Now, in its first rating by Cigar Aficionado, it has impressed us.  

ELIE BLEU
La Flor de Alba
$2,000 / 011-33-1-48-99-64-64
Capacity:
100
Interior:
Aromatic cedar
Humidification:
Two passive devices, proprietary to Elie Bleu
Details: Dividers, lock and key, analog hygrometer
Score:
A-  

While Elie Bleu has long been the benchmark for humidors--its boxes exquisite and the humidification devices superb--we noted a slight falling off in some areas from the model we rated in 1997. Although this box displays many marks of quality--an excellent hinge, a seamless seal--the marquetry is less than perfect, having some flaws in the pattern at the corners. We suspect that this is a result of increased production. There is still a lot to love about this humidor, however, including its humidifier, which is easily controllable with its adjustable vents.  

MICHEL PERRENOUD
The Classical Original
$3,760/011-41-32-925-09-09
Capacity:
100
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification:
Two passive units proprietary to Perrenoud
Details:
Tray, dividers, no hygrometer
Score:
A-  

The most unconventional of the humidors we rated, the pyramid-shaped Perrenoud nevertheless kept our cigars in near-perfect condition. The increased air allowed by the pyramid shape only benefited our smokes. The humidor's modern design and plastic base may turn off some buyers, but that is purely a matter of taste. With some humidors, the tray either fits too snuggly or has unwieldy handles, but to its credit, the Perrenoud has an easily manageable tray. The humidification devices, which are bolted to the inside of the pyramid sides, hold a lot of water and we didn't have to refill the unit at our last reading. We must offer one word of advice: watch your fingers. We suggest dropping the lid rather than placing it down to avoid pinched fingers. The hinge and base are durable enough to handle it.  

PROMETHEUS
Amboyna Burl $1,650 / (800) 229-5233
Capacity: 150
Interior:
Mahogany
Humidification:
Two passive units proprietary to Prometheus
Details:
Tray, dividers, digital hygrometer, brass plaque, lock and key
Score:
A-  

That after six weeks our cigars were buttery soft and in better condition than when we first placed them inside would be an excellent testimonial for any humidor. Add to that a pretty exterior and you have yourself a good box. However, this box is less than perfect. The lid is a little too light and the arrangement of the humidification and hygrometer hardware inside the lid is a bit busy. Overall, a good performer that's a tad overpriced.  

S.T. DUPONT
Maduro $1,650 / (800) 341-7003
Capacity: 100
Interior: Mahogany
Humidification:
One passive device, Credo Precision 70
Details:
Dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score: B+  

This is virtually the same humidor as the Prometheus, with a few exceptions. It has a Credo humidification system, which is a surprise because in most of Dupont's other products, it uses a device designed specifically for the company. The Credo does not work as well as the Prometheus device. This box is also smaller and not as aesthetically pleasing, bordering on boring. It did, however, keep our cigars in desirable condition.  

DUNHILL
Sycamore and Macassar
$1,200 / (800) 860-8362
Capacity: 100
Interior: Mahogany
Humidification: One passive device, proprietary to Dunhill
Details:
Dividers, no hygrometer, lock and key
Score:
B+  

A laudable design concept is undermined by poor execution. The marquetry on the box is uneven and askew at the corners of the lid. The patterns of the lid and box do not match up, nor does the pattern reach the bottom of the box. The interior wood is mahogany, not cedar, in a veneer, not solid wood. In place of a hygrometer, Dunhill has a spring scale on the side of its humidification device that estimates relative humidity by weighing the device itself. The system works, keeping cigars in good condition, but it requires some getting used to. The unit ran a little dry throughout our test (which is a typically British preference), but it came into its own at the end. For the price, we expected more.  

C.A.O.
C.A.O. Artist's Series--"Pomme de Terre"
$8,000 to $10,000 depending on options (800) BEST-CAO
Capacity:
100-200
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification: Two passive units, Credo Precision 70
Details: Triple-tray system, dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score: B+  

C.A.O. has switched from a proprietary humidification system to the Credo system in this humidor, and we think the C.A.O. device would have done a better job for this box. During our testing the humidity fluctuated, requiring more attention than most of the other units. The box is beautifully finished, however, and will definitely add elegance to a room. What we like best about this humidor is its triple-tray system, which has a secret bottom layer, providing a hiding place for your most precious smokes. The lid is a bit heavy and does not form a 90-degree angle with the rest of the box when open, which could cause problems in the future.  

MICHAEL DIXON
87 DEMG
$1,450 / (301) 432-6131
Capacity:
150
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification: One passive Humigar device
Details:
Tray, dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score: B+  

This humidor had the snuggest close of all the humidors in the test and a solid, heavy lid. We had to push the lid down to seal the box. The tray is made of good cedar--not too thick. Too much finish on the box created a surface that is rough to the touch and the eye. Humidity levels ran a bit uneven, but once it is broken in and seasoned this humidor should be consistent.

JEREMY SIMPSON
JS Collection #HC45 $1,495 / 1-877-530-8389 (toll free)
Capacity:
100
Interior: Aromatic cedar
Humidification: Two passive clay devices, proprietary to Jeremy Simpson
Details: Dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score:
B  

Visually, this humidor, formerly called Simpson-Le Queux, is striking, both inside and out. The curved top doesn't allow for you to stack things on it, which may be a plus since the finish is less likely to be marred. It also adds to the elegance of the box. The interior hardware is encased in wood and streamlined, keeping things neat and elegant. The clay humidification devices ran chronically dry. Our cigars were in good shape after six weeks, but we had to refill the unit three times. In a Mediterranean climate, clay devices may perform, but smokers in drier climates may want to think twice before using them. We would also like to see a thicker Spanish cedar lining inside.  

SAVINELLI Caribbean $750 / (919) 481-0511
Capacity:
75
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification: One passive device, proprietary to Savinelli
Details:
Dividers, analog hygrometer
Score:
B-  

Sadly the glue/varnish aroma that we noticed when we tested the Savinelli Mahogany Tobacco Leaf humidor in 1997 hinders this model as well. The humidity levels fluctuated a bit in the beginning, but by the midway point leveled out. Nice inlay work makes it an attractive box. While it is a good value for the price, this is not a top-rank humidor.  

DIAMOND CROWN
The Wellington
$875 / (800) 477-1884
Capacity: 110
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: One passive device, made for Diamond Crown by J.C Pendergast
Details: Tray, dividers, digital hygrometer, lock and key
Score: B-  

This box has a conservative design and the look of mass production. Its glass lid and brass handles make it look more like a silver caddy than a humidor. We had some problems with the Diamond Crown humidification device. The device required refilling four times and also clogged up, which we fixed by shaking the unit. (It should be noted that the instructions for the Diamond Crown call for the humidor to be seasoned, which we did not do, and that the company has recently introduced a new version of its humidification system, designed to be more powerful.) The cigars on the top tray were a bit dry, but the lower smokes fared better. This is not a bad box, but it is not your best buy for the money.    

CUSTOM-MADE HUMIDORS  

These specialty humidors are not boxes you can expect to find in stores and most cases are obtained through contacting the maker directly. Custom-made, the humidors these manufacturers provided for rating are truly one-of-a-kind items. Therefore, buyers should be aware that the humidors they buy from these makers may perform differently than the boxes that we tested. Scores are given as a guideline to craftsmanship of each manufacturer. Cainarca, Linley and Hillsdale are other respected specialty makers that we did not review in the interest of keeping the ratings to a manageable size.  

BOCEPHUS
Custom
Approximately $2,450 / (905) 838-1820
Capacity:
150
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification: One passive Sikar device
Details:
Tray, dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score: A-  

The humidor we tested was constructed with a variety of exotic woods, including burled amboyna, black-dyed maple and eucalyptus. In terms of performance, it was the best of the custom-made boxes and one of the higher scored all around. The cigars from this box were silky. Aesthetically, we found the box lacked the sophistication of an Elie Bleu and not all of our editors were fond of the marquetry. Of course, any box you buy should reflect your own taste. The Bocephus humidors are made to order and available through select tobacconists.  

JOHN CHRISTOPHER
Thuya
$895 / (800) 704-4367
Capacity:
125
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification:
Two passive devices
Details:
Tray, dividers, analog hygrometer, lock and key
Score: B+  

The humidor we rated was a very traditional box, of solid design and wood. The humidification system is identical to that in the Elie Bleu and worked very well to keep our cigars in smokable condition. This is a good performer and not a bad buy. John Christopher has switched its focus from retail to custom-made units sold by select tobacconists, including TinderBox USA.

LIBERTAD/MICHAEL BARBER
Harley Davidson Executive Humidor $7,900 / (212) 719-0800
Capacity:
300
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification: Two passive devices proprietary to Coopers Classic Car & Cigar System
Details: Tray, dividers, analog hygrometer, two leather pouches, lock and key
Score: B+  

The design alone will make this humidor a must buy for some enthusiasts of cigars and Harley Davidson motorcycles. The box seems to rival the size and weight of the classic "Hawg" it seeks to imitate. Appointments are fashioned from Harley parts--handlebar tassels, gearshift rods, etc.--and it includes two leather pouches (think saddlebags) for utensils. Barber's design never lets a cigar sit on a flat surface. He uses a system of lattice and airway channels cut into the Spanish cedar to allow the cedar more surface area and to increase the circulation of humidified air. This was the only humidor in our test that was seasoned (Barber insisted the box must be seasoned and did it himself). We found his system to have some flaws. The humidification devices are too close to the cigars on the top tray when closed and some of our cigars grew mold. The cigars on the bottom fared better. We also felt the slots were too wide and could damage the cigar's wrapper. The top tray is held in place with Velcro and it required some effort to pull out.  

Furthermore
SHRIVER $3,700 / (303) 651-6544
Capacity:
200
Interior:
Spanish cedar
Humidification:
Cigar Oasis fan-operated active humidification system
Details: Three trays, dividers, digital hygrometer, lock and key
Score:
B-

This was the only unit we tested with an active humidification system. An electric fan circulates air throughout the humidor, which we found didn't work any better to hydrate cigars and, in fact, it took some getting used to. The real problems with the Shriver come from the design. Although the wood used in the box is attractive, the seams were uneven and the back seam showed signs of bowing. The lid is far too heavy and during our evaluation, the hinge came apart from the lid. We also didn't like the handles used to open the lid, which stick out from the humidor like ears. The tray system is difficult to maneuver; sometimes the trays were loose and sometimes they were tight and had to be forced back into position. Considering the price of this box, it should function better.  

TUPPERWARE
Limited Edition Humidor from Tupperware (407) 826-8484
Capacity:
N/A
Interior:
Plastic
Humidification:
Passive sponge device
Details:
Tray
Not Scored  

No, this is not a joke. We received a piece of Tupperware, packaged as a humidor, including cigars and utensils as a gift, and although it is not sold on the market, we thought it would be good to see what results we would get from storing our smokes in Tupperware. We had fantastic results. Our cigars were begging to be smoked and the aroma from the box was irresistible. The piece we tested is marketed as the Divided Freezer Mates container in the Asian market and comes with a sponge encased in a small Tupperware container and a tray system that was originally designed to separate meats. To get similar results you can use any piece of Tupperware and keep a sponge inside. There is a danger of overhumidifying cigars in Tupperware since the container is airtight, but if you open the container periodically, it should be fine. And of course, there is the aesthetic factor. It's not pretty.  

HUMIDI-PAK and HUMI-POUCH (612) 341-8555 / (800) 783-3481
Not scored
 

Finally, plastic bags that can keep cigars for extended periods. The Humidi-Pak, a $6.99 clear, thick bag powered by a humidification pouch, kept five cigars fresh for a month and a half. The bag never quite reached 70 percent humidity, but you would never know it by trying the cigars, which were silky and supple by the end of the test. The Humi-Pouch, a $3.95 green bag made by Altura Co., also kept our cigars fresh and ready to smoke for the duration of our test.

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Comments   5 comment(s)

Devon Buy — Petaling Jaya, ---, Malaysia,  —  February 19, 2013 11:05pm ET

I have posted an article on constructing your own humidor DIY-style at http://www.devonbuy.com/making-your-own-humidor/ and have found it to be quite usable, maintaining quite good humidity levels at 70% plus minus. I currently use it to store my Romeo y Julietas and Monte Cristos.

I'm sure there is still room for improvement. Would appreciate any comment with suggestions. Thank you.


Ted Nitka June 22, 2013 5:11pm ET

My company, Cheaphumidors.com (www.cheaphumidors.com) submitted a humidor in the original 1997 review. We received one of the highest marks for our Treasure Dome model.


Ted Nitka June 22, 2013 5:11pm ET

hi


David Savona June 24, 2013 9:38am ET

To clarify the comment from Ted Nikta regarding Cheap Humidors, they were rated by us in the 2003 review on humidors. The humidors did well, however I would correct the comment. Rather than "one of the highest marks" the humidor did fairly well. There were 9 humidors that scored better than the one we reviewed made by Cheap Humidors and several that tied with it. That said, there were several humidors in the review that scored much, much worse. Overall we gave the Cheap Humidors product a score of B-, which we stated was better than anticipated given the name.

For the full review, click here: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/Battle-of-the-Boxes_8377/p/5


Aaron Hois February 22, 2014 11:53pm ET

I recently came across a web page called Lance Allen humidors I went ahead and purchased one of the humidors and was really impressed with the craftsmanship and its ability to retain humidity. Th what I can tell he specializes in makes custom orders though but I think its worth checking out just passing it along


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