Any serious cigar lover knows that you should purchase a well-crafted humidor to maintain the freshness and quality of your cigars. For many, tabletop humidors storing 50 to 250 cigars suit their needs quite well. But what if you have more cigars than you can count? Should you buy five or six tabletop humidors when you may not have enough tabletops? Should you build a walk-in humidor when you may not have the closet space?
There is an answer to this dilemma. A number of companies have created humidors that store a vast collection of cigars. Their designs stand from two to seven feet high and hold anywhere from 500 to more than 1,000 cigars. Though these units may perform as humidors, they blend into an elegant home setting as fine furniture.
Often crafted of top-grain wood, with a smooth finish and hinges and handles of high-quality brass, these humidors offer plenty of space for cigars and cigar paraphernalia. With the increasing demand for cigars and cigar-related items, Cigar Aficionado has tested eight of these units for functionality and appearance. What we found may surprise and delight you.
The largest of the humidors tested is the King's Cupboard, made by Kreitman-Thelen of Atlanta. Resembling a credenza more than a place to store cigars, this seven-foot-high, dark cherry wood humidor adds an elegant touch to any home or office.
Starting from the top, the Spanish cedar-lined unit offers a three-shelf cupboard with capacity for 60 boxes of cigars (the whole unit can hold up to 150 boxes). Underneath are two deep drawers to store cigar accessories such as cutters, lighters, etc. Beneath is a cabinet top for books, curios, or what have you, and in the cabinet below are two additional drawers, with dividers, to hold loose cigars. At the bottom of the unit are two additional cupboards: the left has space for boxed and bundled cigars; the right holds the electronic humidification system and built-in digital hygrometer. Kreitman-Thelen has preset the unit to maintain 70 percent humidity, with a one percent differential, but the humidity level is adjustable. The King's Cupboard retails for $12,500. Call (800) 377-9278 for further details.
In Racine, Wisconsin, the J.C. Pendergast company has been creating large humidors for more than 25 years. Its CA series model is a six-foot-tall wood-and-glass unit. The front panel opens easily with a turn of a key. Lined in Spanish cedar, the interior of the unit has space for almost 1,000 cigars. At the top are three shelves for boxed cigars, while underneath two drawers roll out easily to accommodate loose cigars. These drawers have dividers to separate your cigars by size. At the bottom of the Pendergast are two cupboards: the left one has space for additional boxed cigars; the right contains the humidifier, which holds two gallons of distilled water that will maintain your cigars for three months.
Available for $2,995, the unit includes an adjustable temperature/humidity control and a digital hygrometer/thermometer. Call (414) 634-2388 for further details.
Controlled Environments of San Marcos, California, offers what it calls the Ultimate Cigar Humidor. Almost three feet high, this boxy unit is handcrafted of exotic hardwoods, with a lacquered finish. The interior is made of untreated Spanish cedar and comes with four drawers, which roll out easily, for various cigar sizes; the unit holds a maximum of 800 cigars. At the bottom of the unit is a compartment that holds the distilled water container, digital hygrometer and an adjustable humidity/temperature control. The humidor retails for $5,995. Call Famous Smoke Shop at (212) 221-1408 for details.
Similar in size and design to the Ultimate humidor is the Hi-tech Vinotemp humidor from Vinotemp International of Los Angeles. Designed with the help of two former NASA engineers, this unit stands three feet high and accommodates 800 to 1,000 cigars. It is handcrafted with a white oak exterior. The doors have brass-finish piano hinges. The unit comes with a digital LCD temperature display that also lets you know the humidity level and whether the humidifying device is active. The inside of the unit is constructed of Spanish cedar and comes with adjustable slotted shelves for your boxed cigars. The unit is also equipped with a drawer that has slotted adjustable dividers to handle various sizes of loose cigars.
Vinotemp gives you the option of a six-coat finish. You can also choose from a wide array of exotic woods for the exterior: from ash to zebrawood and almost everything in between. Vinotemp can also customize the door design. The unit is equipped with a brass-finish key and lock for security. The Hi-tech humidor with the standard white oak exterior retails for $1,995.
The company also creates wine storage units and a combination wine/cigar unit called the Napoleon that holds 300 wine bottles and approx-imately 160 cigar boxes. Call (800) 777-8466 for further information.
Nat Sherman of New York also has a larger humidor on the market. The company's Cabinet Humidor is a work in lacquered mahogany walnut with brass hinges and handles. The interior of the unit is constructed of unfinished Spanish cedar. The 18-drawer model can hold a maximum of 1,000 cigars; the 10-drawer model can hold a little more than 300. There is also a main drawer to hold cigar-related accessories. At the top left of the unit is an LED indicator that informs you of the humidity inside the humidor. The 10-drawer model costs $8,500 and the 18-drawer model costs $11,000. Call (212) 246-5500 for more information.
Vigilant Inc., of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has created the Reliance 1000 cigar cabinet series. The unit, which resembles a nightstand, stands a little more than two feet high and is constructed of Honduran mahogany inlaid with clear Spanish cedar. The unit can hold a maximum of 1,000 cigars in two compartments, and it also has a drawer divided into two sections to carry loose cigars. A cupboard at the bottom of the Reliance 1000 holds your cigar box collection.
According to Vigilant, this series of humidors is designed from the ground up specifically for cigar storage, not wine storage, like some other companies. It has an adjustable electronic system that exhibits humidity levels through an LCD digital display inside the cupboard. An LED indicator lights up to advise you when you need to refill the water compartment.
This unit is available in two finishes: chestnut mahogany or cordovan mahogany. It comes in all-wood, glass top, glass door, or glass top and door models. The retail price is $3,500. Call (603) 436-8568 for a dealer near you.
Another unit that uses an electronic humidity system is the Rothman Churchill/Club Imports Chairman humidor. The furniture company joined forces with the cigar supplier to create a 1,000-capacity humidor, incorporating design suggestions from retailers. The unit that we saw is a preliminary version; the companies are updating the line. The humidor is constructed of solid Honduran mahogany with a Spanish cedar interior and brass hardware. Four drawers easily roll out to accommodate loose cigars, while a top drawer holds boxed cigars. The top drawer also houses a very utilitarian humidification unit, but Rothman Churchill and Club Imports report that they are upgrading it.
The duo plans to replace the humidification unit with a more attractive and efficient model. Presently, the door to the unit needs to be opened at a 180-degree angle for consumers to be able to pull out the drawers. The companies are fashioning new hinges so that the door can be opened at a 90-degree angle to allow access to the drawers. The door handles will be replaced with locking versions. Adjustable dividers in the drawers will let you maintain your smokes, and the top drawer will have an inset serving tray that lifts out. The seal inside the door will be upgraded. And, retailers and restaurateurs will have the option to order a glass-fronted model with racks. The unit currently goes for $3,990, but the changes will boost the price a few hundred dollars. Call (800) 292-2582 to order.
The final model tested by our staff is the Haverhill, Massachusetts, Cigar Chest Co.'s Showcase humidor. Standing two feet high, the Showcase is made of solid Honduran mahogany, cherry, bird's-eye maple or walnut. The unit, which holds more than 400 cigars, is glass-paneled on three sides, has brass hinges and handles and an interior of Spanish cedar. The "Humidisk" humidifying unit is a black, acrylic shell filled with phenolic foam and an adjustable cover. It fastens to the top of the inside of the unit and needs only 1/4 cup of distilled water. A Credo hygrometer comes with the Showcase as well. The Showcase retails for $690. Call (508) 521-3367 for further information.
As with any humidor, you should take humidity/temperature readings daily to ensure that your cigars remain in the best possible condition. Use a digital hygrometer rather than the dial hygrometers that come with most units; this ensures a more accurate reading.
With these innovators leading the pack with larger humidors, they are setting the standards for the industry. And, with the increase in cigar consumption and collecting, a growing number of aficionados are seeking the greater capacity these manufacturers provide.
All eight furniture-sized humidors (from cupboard-sized to minibar-sized) were tested for more than a month by the Cigar Aficionado staff. We followed all manufacturers' guidelines in setting up and regulating these cigar cases. We evaluated not only a unit's performance, but its appearance and design as well as its affordability. The grades given are an average of these three key factors. All units are electric unless otherwise noted.
Kreitman-Thelen King's Cupboard
Appearance: This unit scores big with its beautiful craftsmanship. It is constructed of high-quality cherry wood with a smooth finish, and the design fits in with almost any decor. The brass hinges, handles and locks are top-notch.
Functionality: The King's Cupboard comes in an oversized crate that is a little overpowering (it wouldn't fit through a standard door); you need high ceilings for the unit to fit. These things aside, the company packs the humidor with infinite care, making sure that it travels intact from its factory to your door. The unit we tested had a lot of space for cigars and each of the cupboards and drawers opened easily. The humidor performed well, maintaining the cigars at a proper humidity/temperature level.
The only drawbacks were that the unit was a little noisy, making it inappropriate for bedroom placement, and that it has two deep drawers, used for cigar accessories, in the middle of the unit that require the customer to pull them out all the way, where they tend to fall out of their space. The drawers should be shallower and on rollers. Otherwise, a great performer.
Price: $12,500 / Grade: A
Pendergast CA Series
Appearance: This unit is well designed. The wood paneling is well done and the glass doors enhance the unit's appearance. The door opens with a key, which doubles as the handle. It is a little inconvenient but it suits its purpose.
Functionality: The unit performed extremely well; humidity/temperature readings were constantly at a desirable level. The drawers rolled out easily and didn't catch or squeak. The interior of the unit has a nice cedar aroma. It holds up to 1,000 loose and boxed cigars.
Price: $2,995 / Grade: A+
Appearance: The unit has a nice finish and is made of quality wood. However, it looks like a minibar and there is no handle on the door.
Functionality: The unit functioned well. It used a small amount of water, considering its size, and came equipped with a digital hygrometer that gave similar readings to the Airguide digital hygrometer we used. The drawers rolled out effortlessly and hold a vast array of cigar sizes. The organization of the unit is flexible. And the unit is well insulated to ensure that your cigars stay fresh.
Price: $ 5,995 / Grade: B
Appearance: It is very appliance-like in appearance, but the wood is finished nicely. The doors of the unit need to be opened at a 180-degree angle in order to reach the drawer at the top of the unit. This results in a need for an additional 18 inches of clearance on the side.
Functionality: There isn't a lot of shelf space for ci- gars. But it does have a nice seal and high-quality insulation. The insulation and the lock give the user a sense of security. The cigars were maintained well in this unit. The LCD display tells you if the unit is not working properly or requires additional distilled water.
Price: $1,995 / Grade: B
Nat Sherman Cabinet
Appearance: The unit is beautiful. The wood is finished nicely and the seal of the doors is secure. The brass hinges and handles are high quality.
Functionality: One needs full clearance on both sides of the unit to roll out the drawers. The unit required a longer break-in time because the humidity readings tended to be low even though we added distilled water a second time. The cedar inside tended to absorb the moisture and some of the cigars were still too dry.
Price: $8,500 and $11,000 / Grade: B-
Vigilant Reliance 1000
Appearance: The unit looks like a nightstand; it could fit in with a bedroom decor. The wood is of the finest quality and the finish is smooth and polished. The handles and locks are made of the finest brass. It has a beautiful appearance.
Functionality: The humidity readings tended to be high and some of the cigars were a little too moist. Therefore, it needs a longer break-in period. The lock adds a sense of security and the key turned easily. The drawer rolled out easily and is divided to separate loose cigars. The unit uses only a small amount of water. But, when the bottom of the unit is filled to capacity with boxed cigars, one has difficulty getting access to the water tray.
Price: $3,500 / Grade: B
Rothman Churchill and Club Imports Chairman
Appearance: This humidor has an attractive wood exterior. The inside trays are cedar-made. But the humidification device is unattractive. The two companies are making changes to the exterior and interior of the unit to make it work better and look better.
Functionality: Although the humidification device is unattractive, it seemed to do the job, reviving the dry cigars that we put into the unit. But the humidity readings were very high. The drawers roll out easily and have room for various sizes of cigars. But the door needs to be fully opened in order to pull out the trays and drawers, again a design flaw resulting in the need for additional space.
Price: $3,990 / Grade: B (Pending changes)
Cigar Chest Co. Showcase
Appearance: It is not well finished, it doesn't have a high luster, the aroma inside the humidor is not cedary and the humidification device is inelegant in appearance. But it is a decent little unit.
Functionality: Regardless of the way the unit looks, it performed among the best of the eight humidors tested, keeping the cigars in peak condition. It consistently gave us ideal temperature and humidity readings, and we didn't have to use too much water in the company's "Humidisk" humidification device (one vial of distilled water, added twice, did the trick). It is the only unit tested that did not use an electronic humidification device, so you save money on electricity bills as well.
Price: $690 / Grade: A-