The Ups and Downs of Buying a Humidor

Selecting a Bullish Box in a Bear Market

Have you noticed how difficult it is to find a good humidor anymore? During the cigar boom of the 1990’s, humidors so flooded the market that one Christmas as I was strolling through JC Penny, I found a section offering cigar cases, cutters, and humidors surreptitiously hidden amidst men’s hats and paisley ties. Later that week I even encountered humidors for sale at Walgreen’s, Osco Drug, and Sam’s Club. Cigars were hot and the retail giants were loving it!

As cigar sales began to slide these humidor displays began adding bright pink signs saying 30% and then 50% off. Humidors for $19.95 began to appear as retail giants began to liquidate their hoards of cigar accessories that had suddenly become victims of a free-falling accessory market. As with any correction we all tell ourselves how we should have seen it coming. After all, how many humidors does one man need?

Ah the good ole days! Allow me to relish as a retail tobacconist those heady days when having a cool humidor was not as good as having a really expensive humidor! I can remember customers actually spending an hour selecting a beautiful Diamond Crown Concorde and then spurning it because it was not expensive enough for him. It was not long before the exact opposite became the norm as cigar smokers began looking for the perfect $25 humidor. Everyone with a table saw was making humidors and suddenly, manufacturers began to disappear.

Now many of the more reasonably priced humidor makers are gone but many of those customers that bought the $20 discount humidor are getting tired of throwing $10 cigars away because they keep drying out. We are actually seeing a resurgence in humidor sales as people begin to realize that a humidor is more than something to keep your cigars moist. A good humidor will actually not only protect your cigars but make them better!

Fresh vs. Aged

A common misnomer among cigar smokers is the idea of fresh cigars being desirable. At one time it was considered in bad taste to call a cigar a vintage unless it had been aged for a minimum of eighteen months. Any premium cigar was aged at least six months and often a year. Your humidor, if properly maintained, can keep your cigars moist and smokeable for up to 20 years. I always try to age my cigars at least a year and even six months make a big difference.

Because you should consider aging your cigars, you should also by a humidor that is bigger than you think you need. I personally purchased a Diamond Crown Biltmore thinking that as a larger box rated for 80 to 100 cigars it would suffice for my needs. Alas I now need a bigger box as it is full of cigars slowly aging, maturing, and getting better by the day.

Brands to Consider

Mastro de Paja makes three humidors from $100 to $150 that are all smaller but good quality and good looking. They all come in a light brown burl finish that is attractive and functional. For the price this box is worth a look.

CAO manufactures a line of mid-priced humidors in a variety of styles, sizes, woods, and finishes. The smaller sizes start about $150 and range up to around $500 but CAO often runs specials. If you look around you can get a Mega I that holds 150 cigars or so for $275.

My personal favorite line is the Diamond Crown series. Manufactured by Reed & Barton, these humidors range in price from $195 up to $950 for the Versailles. I think that when one considers price, quality, and performance that these are the best all around deal.

If quality is what you seek then I would have to say that the Davidoff Humidors are impressive. Although they do make some lesser expensive humidors, notably the Zino line, the hand- crafted quality is well worth the investment and the humidification system is among the best.