The end of the $175 humidor challenge is here.
About a year ago, I planned a series of reviews that aimed to answer a question that I had: could I find an affordable humidor that I liked? My original hope was to find an option for about $100, that became $150 and ultimately I realized that expanding the maximum price point to $175 made more sense.
So I bought seven humidors that all met the following qualifications:
- It needed to look like a traditional wooden humidor, i.e. no plastic bins or acrylic humidors.
- It had to be large enough to hold around 75 robustos, i.e. no travel humidors.
- It must be priced at no more than $175 before tax and shipping.
There were two companies that I expected to have an outsized presence among the humidors that I reviewed because they have an outsized role when it comes to those qualifications. One was Prestige Import Group, but the more notable is Quality Importers Trading Co., which makes humidors of all shapes, sizes and prices.
The other Quality Importers Trading Co. humidor—or at least the explicitly QI humidor—was less than $100, so I wanted to get a slightly more expensive model to see if the adage of “you get what you pay for” is true with Quality Importers.
WHAT IS IT?
It’s a humidor that I wouldn’t buy based on aesthetics alone. My preference for humidor styles tends to be more modern, whereas this is decidedly classic. There’s dark wood, gold-toned accents and a large tobacco leaf image on the top of the humidor. While it may not be my style, I think the overall look works quite well if this is the aesthetic you are going for.
Externally, the Deauville Tobacco Leaf Humidor measures 13.5 inches x 9.5 x 6.375. If you are super tight on space, be aware the handles on this humidor aren’t included in those measurements, so expect those to tack on about another half-inch in width. For those wondering, it weighs 6.9 pounds.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
We paid $99.99 before tax and shipping. I have found retailers currently listing it from $88-130, though that might end up being a wash depending on what you get charged for shipping. We paid another $19.99 to get it shipped.
- The humidor
- A florists’ foam humidifier with a magnetic back
- An analog hygrometer with a magnetic back
- A tray with a removable divider
- Two removable dividers for the bottom area
- A key
As for the florists’ foam humidifier, here’s a brief explanation I’ve given before:
Florists’ foam is the traditional humidification method, it’s a green-colored foam that can also be used to keep plants hydrated, hence the name. Humidor manufacturers will place them inside of plastic or metal containers and then recommend you use some sort of combination of distilled water and propylene glycol. The use of propylene glycol—usually recommended in a 50/50 mixture with distilled water—is that it can help to reduce mold and, in theory, absorb excess humidity, specifically excess humidity over 70 percent relative humidity.
Over the years, I haven’t found this to be particularly effective and there seems to be some evidence that more propylene glycol is needed to maintain 70 percent relative humidity at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For this testing, I used the regularly recommended 50/50 method.
HOW LARGE IS IT INSIDE?
Inside, it measures 12 inches x 8.25 inches x 4.625 inches, though I think there’s probably another 1.25 inches of maximum available space if you wanted to stack cigars to the roof of the humidor. Per Humidor Discount’s humidor calculator, it could fit 92 robusto cigars, though that’s without the extra 1.25 inches. With the extra space, that number increases to 138. I don’t think it’s realistic, but to be fair, that’s what the calculator says it would be.
As always, those numbers would assume that you are maximizing the space completely, which would mean you wouldn’t use the included tray or dividers. Furthermore, the two pieces of wood that hold up the tray are going to take up some space, reducing the capacity slightly.
THE TESTING PROCESS
Given that I have seven humidors to compare against one another, I decided to come up with a testing process for all of them. I wanted to test the humidors both as they are sold and also with some of the variables removed so I could test the quality of the boxes themselves.
All humidors had a brand new and freshly calibrated SensorPush device inside for all parts of the test. The SensorPush is a digital device that measures both the temperature and relative humidity, and then sends that data to a smartphone app where it is stored on a minute-by-minute basis. (The SensorPush is not included in any of these humidors.)
The testing process is as follows:
- Seasoning — Two weeks of seasoning with a new sponge soaked in distilled water placed on a plate inside the humidor. The sponge was re-soaked after the first seven days and then removed once the two-week period was complete. Seasoning a humidor is a process to add moisture to the wood. If you don’t do this process, you run the risk that the wood will be dry and will suck the moisture from both the humidifier and the cigar. This can lead to months of frustration, and worse, dried-out cigars.
- Included Humidifier — Four weeks of using the humidor with the included humidifier with no cigars and without opening the lid. This is intended to test the humidor as the manufacturer sends it. Once this was done, I removed the included humidifier and moved on to step three.
- Boveda — Six weeks of using the humidor with three Boveda 60 gram packs (69 percent) with no cigars and without opening the lid. This is intended to test the humidor’s performance without the variability of how well the included humidifier works.
- Dry Cabinet — Two weeks of the humidor with nothing but the SensorPush inside placed inside of an electronic dry cabinet set at 36 percent relative humidity. The dry cabinet allows for me to control the ambient relative humidity, meaning that I can measure humidity loss without having to worry about how much of that is related to the change in the outside air. This is done to test how well the humidor seals. It was done without a humidification device to get a clearer picture of moisture loss.
Note: The reason why this review is happening so long after the most recent humidor review—in June—is because the Sensor Push device that was used during the original testing failed. This humidor started its first round of seasoning on March 22 and the testing process was supposed to be done at the end of June. However, in April the Sensor Push stopped recording data for about three months. I didn’t realize this until I went to finish this review in August and realized most of the data for the review was missing.
Sensor Push devices not recording data for periods of time isn’t a new thing, though it’s not that common. For what it’s worth, the Sensor Push device started recording data again after July—without me doing anything to it—and seems to be functioning fine now. Whatever is the case, I swapped out the Sensor Push for a new one and used two for the second round of testing in case one failed.
This humidor started with higher relative humidity than most, though it finished with the lowest relative humidity number I’ve seen so far at just 72.49 percent. For what it’s worth, the original round of seasoning finished at 75.05 percent, which is also lower than the other six humidors I tested.
My experience in this series would suggest that this humidifier is not powerful enough for a humidor like this, and the results here only confirmed that suspicion.
But the data isn’t as bad as it would seem. The problematic part is that the humidor started its second round of seasoning at 58.9 percent relative humidity. That was the humidity level after it spent two months with its lid closed and nothing inside. The fact that it ended the included humidifier part of this test at 48.6 percent relative humidity is quite problematic. It means that the dried out humidifier was probably absorbing some of the extra humidity.
However, this data also likely suggests that the box itself works pretty well. If it was able to keep whatever residual humidity was inside for two months at a higher level than when the dried out humidifier was inside should be a good sign. It’s worth noting that ambient relative humidity could have an effect here, but I doubt it given that the relative humidity inside of our office stays at a pretty consistent level throughout the year and certainly doesn’t drop enough that would explain the contrasts in numbers.
As for the weird spike, I suspect that the humidifier basically went 0-100 and put out most of its moisture at the beginning of the test and once it was dried out, the decline in relative humidity started.
Needless to say, when the Boveda packs entered the humidor, the wood inside was dry and in need of seasoning. Unfortunately for The Deauville Tobacco Leaf Humidor, these weren’t Boveda’s seasoning packs.
When the Boveda packs entered the humidor they weighed 182 grams, when they were pulled out six weeks later it was down to 115g and there wasn’t much pliability left in the packs.
I’m not sure there’s much to glean from this data, needless to say, halfwheel’s testing protocol is getting changed to help avoid having useless data like this. I didn’t make any changes for this review as I wanted to test the humidor in the same manner as the other six in this series.
I am still not sure how useful the dry cabinet data is in general, but I do think it confirms what I saw with the included humidifier: the box itself seems like it works pretty well. There was a drop of less than 5 percent relative humidity in the course of the two weeks, though it’s worth noting that it also started out pretty low compared to some humidors.
- The Box Appears to Seal Well — While the data is difficult to easily parse, I think if it is used to evaluate whether The Deauville Tobacco Leaf Humidor can effectively seal, the evidence suggests it does more than it does not. The humidifier might be underpowered, but the box appears to be capable of doing the primary job of a humidor: keeping the moisture inside.
- The Value — From a how many cigars does it hold per dollars the humidor costs standpoint, this is a very good value.
- The Advertised Number of Cigars isn’t Completely Made Up — This was mentioned in my most recent humidor review, but many humidors come with inflated capacity claims from manufacturers. This humidor seems like it is capable of storing 100 robustos, or at least very close to that number.
- The Look — This isn’t for me, but if you are into a much more classic look, this humidor will go great with some oversized leather chairs and dark mahogany furniture. The gold-colored handles are a great addition at this price point and unlike some cheaper humidors, they feel solid enough.
- The Exterior Finish is a Disaster — The top of the lid arrived with a number of scratches, there’s a dent in the black border of the lid, the front side of the lid looks like it got sideswiped by a car (see below), one of the corners is dented, there’s some sort of paint imperfection on the front of the lid, the lower parts of the lid and the upper parts of the base of the humidor have minor deformities throughout, the bottom of the humidor has more of those imperfections and the sides of the humidor have more of those deformities.
- The Interior Finish is Bad — While there are minor imperfections throughout and on the tray, the issues are mainly related to the two strips of wood that are used to hold up the tray. The wood pieces themselves don’t run the length of the humidor, there are pieces of wood missing from the strips and they appear to be covered in glue.
- There’s a Quality Control Sticker on the Bottom — Either these stickers are being placed on everything that comes out of the factory or these imperfections were okay with whoever was doing quality control. It’s one or the other, but neither is great. Some of these imperfections could be explained by shipping and transit, but things like the glue on the inside and the paint imperfections and cover-ups on the outside weren’t caused by shipping.
- The Included Humidification Isn’t Enough to Power This Humidor — If you just use the included humidifier I suspect you are going to be refilling it near weekly or your cigars are going to be affected negatively. It’s just not enough for a humidor of this size in my opinion.
- The Stickers Don’t Hold the Magnets in Place That Well — This has been a consistent theme across the humidors at this price point from Quality Importers. The sticker backs for the magnets just don’t stay attached. Furthermore, it’s not like I’m opening the lids of these humidors at a frequency that is close to what most people who used this as their humidor would be doing.
- Savoy Marquis ($111.95) — This humidor has a unique design that shows a visible gap in the seal on the back. After thinking about this more—albeit, without anyone from the company mentioning this review to me—I think I might have been wrong about this humidor. It’s solidly made for the price and the performance has been pretty good.
- Prestige Princeton ($134.55) — This was the “safe” choice from Prestige and I think it’s a pretty sensible humidor with one major flaw. The single included humidifier was unable to provide enough humidity for this unit and as such the testing results were awful. I cannot recommend this humidor unless you are going to replace the humidification system.
- Prestige Winchester ($149.95) — The Prestige Winchester’s unique wide design made it one of the more interesting humidors in this series. Unfortunately, the unit we purchased was as poorly constructed as any humidor I’ve ever reviewed. Just stay away.
- Craftman’s Bench Havana 90-Cigar ($79.95) — This is the least expensive desktop humidor I’ve ever reviewed and it felt like it. Beyond the issue with the floor—which had become dislodged in a fashion that made it both visible and audible—this humidor came with a tiny humidifier that is way too small for this size of humidor.
- Yannabis Cigar Humidor ($159.99) — This is an obvious knock-off of a high-end Colibri/Daniel Marshall humidor that I liked a lot. While it’s a knock-off from a company I’ve never heard of, it’s actually the best humidor I’ve reviewed in this series.
- Humidor Supreme Old World ($94.99) — While this humidor might seem like a good bang-for-the-buck candidate in terms of the ratio of interior space to price, it featured a number of cosmetic issues as well as a structural issue that made closing the humidor a lot more challenging than it should ever be.
- Boveda Large Acrylic Humidor ($180) — Note: Boveda recently updated this humidor, and I’ve purchased but not reviewed the new model. My thoughts on the old model are that the humidor is just over the $175 price point but would otherwise be the recommended option. It’s a large, see-through plastic box with a removable tray that allows you to show off your cigars. More importantly, it’s plastic, which means you don’t need to worry about seasoning it and really don’t need to worry about the seal. It just works. The issue with the Boveda is that it just doesn’t look like what most people think of as a humidor.
- Colibri Heritage Humidor ($495) — If you want a wooden humidor that is going to last, I think you are going to want to spend closer to $400. The Heritage Humidor can regularly be found at that price point and it’s just so much better in just about every way. It feels solid, it avoids the major manufacturing flaws and it has a much more modern look, albeit one that isn’t for everyone.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes, but only if you can inspect the humidor in person before purchasing it.
Despite the fact that the humidor I purchased and reviewed arrived looking like a scratch and dent item, I think the humidor box itself should work pretty well. This is one of four humidors in this test that I would recommend based on the box itself, but my experience with buying one of these, as well as the experience with the rest of these cheaper humidors, leads me to only recommend this humidor if you are able to inspect it in person before buying it. The Deauville Tobacco Leaf Humidor is certainly the winner of this series from a bang-for-your-buck perspective, but it’s also probably the second-worst humidor of the seven when it comes to the finish and quality control.