Cigar 101

What to Look for in a Good Humidor

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

You just received a box of cigars as a gift, but you’re not sure how to store them. Is the refrigerator a safe place? No. And your desk drawer won’t work either. A lot of folks assume cigars will stay fresh in the box they’re packaged in, especially if the cellophane is still on. That’s a misconception. You need a humidor. Cigars should be stored at roughly 70 degrees and 70% RH (relative humidity). That’s what a humidor is designed for and it’s a distinct function a plain wooden box or kitchen cabinet won’t provide.

If this is your first humidor, you may not be entirely familiar with what to look for. How much does a good humidor cost? What’s the best brand for the money? Can I get a good humidor for under $50? Are all humidors the same? We’re addressing these questions and a handful of common issues cigar lovers typically ask us when they’re shopping for a humidor. 

Choose the Best Size

Most humidors are available in 25, 50, 75, and 100-cigar capacities. They can go up to several hundred, though. If you’ve only got a handful of cigars to store, you don’t need a gargantuan 300-cigar humidor. Keep in mind, a humidor’s capacity will vary based on the size of your cigars. Many humidors are rated based on how many Toro-sized cigars you can fit inside. The classic Toro is 6 inches by a 52mm ring gauge. That’s a touch larger than the typical 5 x 50 Robusto, but shorter than a 7 x 48 Churchill.

Choose a size that’s a little bigger than what you think you’ll need. It’s good to leave approximately 20% of the space on the inside of your humidor free. This gives the air and the humidity a better chance to circulate. Leaving some breathing room around your cigars is a good thing.

Reliable Materials

Most humidors are made of hardwood or a composite wood with a cedar veneer on the inside. Hardwood, especially solid cedar is best, although it can be more expensive than a box made from composite woods. Premium Spanish cedar is found inside the best humidors, like the Savoy Executive series or an ultra-high-end brand like Elie Bleu. The advantage solid cedar offers is that it reacts positively with moisture and will facilitate the aging of your cigars in the best way. Many premium models will also feature interlocking or dovetail joints for the soundest possible construction.

Not everyone has an unlimited budge for a new humidor, so there are plenty of affordable options to keep in mind like the classic Savoy line or the Artisan Series. Sturdy brass hinges, durable walls, and a reliable humidification system guarantee a superior performance from your humidor.

The exterior of a humidor is important too, but for aesthetic reasons. The exterior wood is often a veneer. Choose a finish that you enjoy looking at, one that matches your man cave or office. Finishes range from traditional mahogany or walnut veneers to exotic and super intricate designs.

Check the Seal

The most important quality in a well-made humidor is the seal. The seal is where the lid meets the box. Often, a short wooden lip encompasses the interior edge of the box, either inside the lid or running along the interior walls. When the lid closes, you should hear a slight “whoosh” from air escaping as opposed to a “clunk” – a sign the box may not be constructed as tightly as it should be. Also keep in mind, the wood will swell after the box has been set up and humidified. Checking the seal after you’ve seasoned your humidor is essential. A quick visual inspection will provide plenty of perspective too. If you notice any gaps, interruptions, or unevenness where the lid meets the box, the humidity will escape. When the lid closes and reflects a tight fit, your humidor is going to keep the humidity on the inside.

Humidification System

Most humidors come with a humidification unit, or a reservoir, but not all do. If your box is not equipped with a reservoir, there are plenty of humidification options to choose from. Traditional foam units, beads, crystals, or humidity pouches like Boveda are available. Remember to use only distilled water or propylene glycol solution when filling your humidification unit. Review our tips for preparing a new humidor if this is your first box.

After you’ve set up your humidor, pay close attention to your hygrometer. That’s how you know your humidor is maintaining moisture and working correctly. A hygrometer measures the humidity on the inside of the box. Most digital models will also include a temperature gauge. In addition to monitoring your hygrometer, occasionally squeeze your cigars. They should exhibit a soft firmness, but won’t be overly spongy or too stiff. Your cigars should reflect the same condition you would expect them to be in at the time of purchase from a premium retail cigar shop.

How Much Should You Spend

A basic Artisan humidor goes for $29.95. That’s about as affordable as it gets for a humidor. It’s a simple box that can hold roughly 25 cigars and is available in a handful of stylish colors. You may not keep it for ten years, but it’s a great starter box that won’t cost a fortune.

Savoy is also a superb brand. Standard models range from around $75 to a few hundred dollars, depending on the size. They are well-made in a large variety of sizes and finishes. Smaller desktop and travel sizes are available, as well, if you only need to store a dozen cigars or fewer.

The Savoy Executive series is the best bang for your buck. Manufactured exclusively from premium hardwoods, Savoy Executive humidors are designed to last a lifetime. Choose from a handful of stunning finishes and sizes that range from $254.95 to $445.95, depending on size. They are designed to age your cigar collection and perform just as effectively as the exclusive Elie Bleu brand, which is handmade in Paris. While Elie Bleu humidors are breathtaking in every manner, prepare to spend north of $1500 on a box. There is no such thing as an “entry-level” Elie Bleu. The company is known for making elite, heirloom-quality humidors. Elie Bleu is considered the Rolls-Royce of humidor manufacturers. They are made exclusively from kiln-fired Spanish cedar and often feature rare and ornate finishes.

Picking out the perfect humidor shouldn’t be a challenge. A quality humidor makes a great gift for any cigar connoisseurs in your life. And if this is your first box, remember your cigars are an investment. They will stay fresh indefinitely and improve in flavor if you have a safe place to stash them.

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