by Rob Wagner
Humidors are a great gift for cigar lovers because they preserve the flavor of an expensive cigar and also represent an appreciation for the art of cigar smoking. Like a fine luxury sports car, an expensive watch or a tailored suit, the humidor accords status to its owner.
History: The exact origin of the humidor is not known, but it's believed the Russian tobacconist Zino Davidoff first developed the cellar humidor as early as the 1930s in a tobacco shop owned by his parents in Switzerland. Cellar, or walk-in, humidors have since become common among wealthy cigar lovers and have ultimately led to the humidor box.
Function: Humidors, whether walk-in versions or simple cedar boxes, are designed to store cigars in a contained tropical climate by functioning similar to a sealed plastic bag that maintains airborne moisture. Humidors should maintain humidity between 68 and 72 percent at room temperature. This is to prevent cigars from drying out and unraveling within days of purchase.
Types: Gift-givers can impress a cigar lover by having a walk-in humidor designed by converting a walk-in closet in the bedroom or hallway, or in a basement or large attic, by walling a portion of the room with Plexiglas. More practical gifts include wooden boxes of varying sizes, depending on the cigar lover's appetite for smoking. Humidors can complement a home or workplace office desk, coffee table or bookcase.
Humidor science: Cigar lovers will need to humidify their new humidor first by seasoning it and installing a hygrometer to ensure that the box maintains the proper humidity. A surprise for cigar enthusiasts is to season the cedar humidor before giving it as a gift. This can be accomplished by placing distilled water in a shot glass inside the humidor. As the water evaporates, it's absorbed into the cedar. Insert a hygrometer, which should come with the humidor, and close the lid. Once the hygrometer reads between 68 and 72 percent, the humidor is ready to store cigars.
Humidor features: Battery-operated travel humidors can generally contain cigars up to 9 inches long and regulate the humidity. Moisture levels can be checked on the blue LED light readout that measures the humidity. A classically styled glass-top desk model can hold from 25 to 200 cigars.
Great gift: The rules of selecting a humidor are similar to selecting cologne or jewelry: do so with great care. Humidors can be purchased for as little as $50, but the cigar lover may want to display his collection of unsmoked cigars with a humidor that is more a piece of furniture than a storage box. The glass-top model for a desktop or an engraved cedar box for a coffee table looks stylish in the home.