The Truth About Humidors
As with cigars themselves, there's a lot of pomp and ceremony around humidors. So let's get the facts straight.
Firstly, what exactly is a humidor? Well, that's the easy question. A humidor is any cigar storage unit that regulates internal humidity. They're used to keep your cigars fresh and pest-free.
A much more difficult question is, what constitutes a QUALITY humidor? That's what I'm going to talk about in this article.
There are basically 6 things you need to consider when choosing a humidor:
5. Shape & Design
Don't short-change yourself on quality. The materials used in your humidor are one of two factors most likely to influence its effectiveness (the other being workmanship).
As a rule of thumb, go with mahogany. Many other timbers are suitable too, but mahogony's the standard because it's un-reactive in most conditions, so it won't warp.
When it comes to interior lining, the best material is Spanish Cedar. It's absorbent, so it regulates at 60%-70% along with your cigars, and beetles hate its bitter taste, so it discourages infestations. What's more, it will give your cigars a slightly spicy flavor - a taste prized by most cigar-lovers. Note that you don't actually NEED a Spanish Cedar lining; just don't use Western, Red or any other aromatic Cedar, as they'll ruin the flavor of your cigars.
Also, make sure you choose a humidor with thick walls and base - at least 5/8" - all sealed. This ensures it has a good buffer against outside ambient conditions, and significantly reduces the chances of warping. A heavy lid also helps maintain a tight seal.
Quality workmanship is a must. Without a tight lid seal, snug corner joints and a perfect hinge installation, the internal environment of your humidor will be compromised. In fact, it'll probably be completely ineffective, allowing your prize cigars to deteriorate long before their time.
Of course, when you love your cigars, your humidor has to be usable. One feature to look out for is a lift-out tray with movable dividers. This will help you organize your cigars and make it easier to get at them. And also make sure the lid doesn't overbalance the whole unit when opened (some of heavier lids may do this).
A lock isn't a bad idea either. Even if it's just for peace of mind. You have a lot tied up in your cigars, both emotionally and financially. You're keeping them safe from the elements, why not keep them safe from sticky fingers, too? Just make sure you always have a spare key somewhere safe (and memorable). The last thing you want is to have to ruin your beautifully crafted humidor by forcing entry.
Oh, and make sure there's enough room in the lid for the humidifying device you're going to use.
Most humidors will advertise their capacity in terms of number of cigars held. But remember, they're usually referring to Corona or Corona Extra sized cigars. If you're a fan of a larger format, you might not fit as many as advertised. In either case, it's always a good idea to buy a humidor that's a little bigger than you think you'll need. Once you start using it, you'll love it, and it won't take you long to fill it. (It's just one more excuse to buy more cigars!)
Shape & Design
Humidors come in all shapes, sizes and colors, from classic, conservative and dignified to wild and exotic. Fortunately, style's one thing you can go to town on. The shape (and overall design and appearance) you choose really comes down to personal taste. Assuming it's made well, from quality materials, as discussed above, shapes and designs won't impact effectiveness.
Don't be tempted to settle for a cheap humidor, because cheap is what you'll get. The effectiveness of humidors rests heavily on materials and workmanship, so it only comes at a price. That price? $300+ for a 150+ cigar humidor.
If that's more than you can afford, I recommend waiting 'til you can afford it, rather than settling for second-best. Instead, perhaps you can make do with a 'tupperdor' or 'igloodor'. It'll be much cheaper than a quality humidor, and far easier to stabilize than a cheap one.
You don't settle for second-best in cigars, so don't compromise on your humidor either. Quality comes at a price, so humidors are best viewed as an investment, not a cost. And for any cigar lover, the ROI of a good one is significant.