‘Aristocratic’ Cigar Storage
It's true. Time flies when you're having fun. In reality, of course, time flies no matter what the situation. Although I've had ups and downs over the last decade, it's still hard to believe it will be 10 years ago come this summer that I made my largest ever single cigar related purchase – an Aristocrat Cabinet Humidor. This was and is, without a doubt, the best such acquisition I have ever made.
Anyone who knows me understands that I don't make large purchases on a whim. If anything, I over-think such options, and spend hours gathering information as well as reading and rereading reviews until I am comfortable spending my hard earned money.
One of the first things most new cigar smokers do, after gaining an appreciation for the pure enjoyment cigars can offer, is to start planning on where they will store their purchases. A small desktop humidor is usually the first place that one begins. I'm not going to discuss the virtues, benefits or weaknesses of desktop humidors. That's not the purpose of this article. I'll simply say that, in relation to cigar storage, there are decent desktop humidors and there's junk. One usually gets what he or she pays for.
I'll also state right here and now that the cheap and readily available cooler represents one of the best cigar storage container systems. Yes, a cooler of any kind or shape will do a perfect job of keeping your cigars at the ideal humidity level. And after all, isn't that what a humidor is basically for?
Coolers are inexpensive, and they facilitate storage expansion for growing cigar collections. When one cooler fills up, you can simply buy a new one. Desktop humidors, in comparison, are usually limited in capacity to a few boxes.
Although a cooler can make an excellent humidor, it doesn't exactly look great sitting in a living room, family room or man cave. If you don't mind storing your cigars in a closet or an unfinished basement, using a cooler is ideal. But if you want large capacity storage along with the classic look of furniture, then you're going to need a cabinet humidor.
As with desktop humidors, cabinet humidors come in all shapes and sizes. And yes, you generally do get what you pay for.
After all of my research, I chose to buy an Aristocrat Cabinet Humidor. But which one? After all, Bob Staebell, the master craftsman of Aristocrat Humidors, offers cabinet humidors in a variety of sizes with so many options that the possibilities are almost endless.
For assistance in making my decision, I asked for opinions from members of Cigar Weekly, and also called Bob Staebell himself. Through multiple telephone conversations and e-mails, Bob explained the various options and the philosophy behind Aristocrat Humidors. I could immediately sense that Bob not only knew what he was talking about, but that he truly loved his work. His is not just a job. Bob desires to make the best humidors available, and strives to make sure that his customers get exactly what they need.
Bob's Aristocrat Humidors are available at a variety of price points, depending on the size, type of wood used and options selected. Unlike most 'salesmen', Bob doesn't simply try to sell the most expensive product. Bob really wants his customers to be happy with their purchases, even if that means steering clients toward lower cost options.
While trying to decide what model would work best for me, I narrowed my choices down to the regular Aristocrat Cabinet Humidor and the Aristocrat Mini, the latter being a smaller version. I already owned a Cigar Oasis Plus (CO+) electronic humidifier. Bob said the CO+ would be sufficient to keep the humidity level perfect in the Mini. (If I went with the regular Cabinet Humidor, then the CO+ most likely would not be enough.)
Bob sells a wonderful humidification system appropriately named Set and Forget. This digital humidifier works well with large cabinet humidors to ensure that the humidity stays at the chosen level. A Set and Forget humidifier would work well in a Mini. However, using the CO+ humidification device I already owned would not only save me money, but also save room in the humidor (as its profile is smaller than that of the larger Set and Forget model).
After deciding to get the Mini and to use the CO+, I then needed to figure out what type of wood I wanted. I swayed back and forth on this issue, but ultimately went with natural mahogany. I also opted to add the base molding, which in my opinion gives the cabinet a more elegant look.
Inside the humidor, I elected to stay with the standard configuration, which is comprised of one pull-out top drawer (this drawer extends all the way out so one can easily see and access all of the cigars) and one shelf. My plan was to keep a selection of singles in the top drawer and store the rest of the cigars in their boxes below.
While the single drawer setup worked well for many years, I eventually found I was losing valuable storage space. Once a cigar box became less than half full, it made little sense to keep the box in the humidor. Yet that was still what I needed to do, as I didn't have enough space for those remaining cigars in the singles drawer.
To resolve this problem and to allow for more efficient storage, I decided to add three more drawers, giving me a total of four. Bob, as expected, explained everything to me. This modification allowed me to store four or more full boxes on the bottom below the drawers, while permitting me to have easy access to my other cigars in the drawers. Selecting a cigar has become so much easier. And I must confess that I love looking at all those beauties just waiting to be chosen.
After adding the extra drawers, I noticed that the humidity in the humidor tended to be higher near the bottom. I discussed the phenomenon with Bob, and he indicated that adding a small fan would resolve this issue. So I purchased the fan and hardware from Bob, and it worked wonderfully well. Unfortunately, less than a year later, the fan began making a noise. I contacted Bob, and he said that the fans occasionally burn out, but that it should not have happened so quickly. He sent me a free replacement and everything worked perfectly again.
I am obviously biased, but I recommend Aristocrat Cabinet Humidors wholeheartedly and without reservation. Not only are the cabinets of excellent quality, but Bob's customer service is as good as it gets. If you are seriously interested in owning a high quality cabinet humidor, look no further than the Aristocrat line sold by Staebell & Associates. You will not be disappointed.
Rob Geyer (Rob G) resides with his family (and hangs out in his Man Cave) in Syracuse, NY.