First Look

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First Look: Arlin Liss Solid Burl Maple Humidor

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Rod Gwinn (Niceash)

This is the first of many reviews of cigar related products. I received Arlins humidor in a well packed carton about the middle of February. I then spent the next two weeks running a working test and just admiring the look and feel. Overall this is a finely crafted Humidor. You can very quickly see the time and effort that Arlin puts into his creations. I slowly unpacked the humidor and set it on my desk, I took out the Cigar Oasis and the ExTech wireless hygrometer and placed them into the humidor. The setup was very easy as Arlin had taken the effort to route the ribbon cable for the Cigar Oasis through the back of the humidor. I plugged everything in and let the humidor settle in over night. The next afternoon I checked the reading on the ExTech base unit and saw that it was sitting at 60% humidity. I open the humidor and made a slight adjustment to the Cigar Oasis and left it for a few more hours. It slowly climbed to 70% where it held during the rest of its time in my possession. After having it dialed in I proceeded to fill the tray with a nice selection of my favorite smokes. During the next week and a half I opened it each day and removed a few cigars (had to smoke something). During my brief review period the humidor performed flawlessly. At no time did I experience any great fluctuations in humidity. I actually liked the combination of the Cigar Oasis and ExTech units. Of course that is my personal preference, and it would be no problem at all to swap the Oasis out for a smaller passive unit. Overall the design and functionality of this humidor is way above your average store bought humidor. Arlins craftsmanship is what makes his products stand out. In closing I will say that I would be proud to have one of Arlin;'s humidors in my home. I rate this humidor 4 out of 5 stars.

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David Dehls (Renaissance Man) "Very well made, I would just take out the Cigar Oasis unit for added room."

Mike Leahy (Hbooker) "This is a Work of art,"

Well folks.

I got to do something tonight that I am sure everyone would like to do. I got to inspect in detail this EXACT Humidor. THE same one Saka was provided with.

The editor of CW has the unit for review, and being "close to the owners" I was invited to inspect this humidor this evening.

I read everything that was posted by Ca and Van55 and Steve Saka. I absorbed the comments and went to task on attempting to find out why they rated the way they did.

On first inspection I can say WOW wee.. Nice work Arlin. The entire box is great looking. I would personally love to have this one. The craftmanship is way up there.

I looked at it as if I where going to plink down my $$ for this exact box. SO It made me far more critical on my inspection.

First off functionality. Hell yeah it held a 70% as reported now for a week (or so) and 30 days for Saka, the lid is TIGHT I mean sealed Great. ZERO issues there. I predict that this humidor will always hold!

Well its Build Like a Tank, I mean HEAVY Construction - OUT of a BURL.. Man it sure is pretty and SOLID! not a mamby pamby box by any means. The Hinges are pretty and Super heavy duty, the Handles are Brass REAL Handles no sisyfied handles here Pal! Made me want to say Arghh Ufm Hurumf! Kinda like Tim Taylor on tooltime.

The humidification device - I would have preferred to see a passive lid mounted one maybe with beads or some other option. The device used was certainly more than needed in my opinion. To me it took up cigar space. When I want to get a showpiece humidor (and this is one for sure) I want to be able to open it and show off my Davidoffs and other rare items that I would put in there without worry or hassle. And closing it was problematic due to the ribbon cable - I believe that was because of the way the humidification device sat in the top tray. The ribbon liked to curl and if you tried to shut the humidor you needed to move the cable to do so.

It just gave it me a negative feel with that humidifier in there (honest opinion here).

It's just my opinion that that issue gave it some "knocks" when CA looked at it. But all in all they certainly where not fair with what was written in any account.

All the joints are great - In my search to find what the reviewers at CA where talking about I noticed a couple of (tiny) things that I would ask to have fixed if I where to buy this unit (Keeping in mind its a valuable investment).

One thing that's kinda silly: when the box is directly overlit under a spotlight (as it would be in a retail outlet) there was an ever so slight overbite appearance on the left side towards the rear where the top closes (it couldn't have been 50 thousands of an inch but it was enough to create a shadow on that area.)

One of the minor issues was the trays. (nothing big here just when I go to spend that kind of money I get pickier than most) - I would recommend that the trays be a bit more finished (sanded- to knock the splintery edges off). Arlin when you get her back check it out, you'll see what I mean. If I bought it I would sand the tray edges.

The joints where the cedar inserts meet in the front right corner where off a tad... like 1/8" (it has no bearing on anything functional just something I noticed.)

This had to be the part where they claimed separated (it didn't though) It's hand made and gorgeous.

Was it perfect? No. But it's not a Factory Item. Other than the tiniest things I mentioned this humidor was beautiful and those "charicteristics" are something that's a part of this unit, as a hand crafted item by a master crafter. No I wouldn't return it for those minor issues.

Now that was over the top critical in an attempt to find what the "reviewers" found.

I can say with certanty that they where wrong, but I suspect that we will never see a retraction of that rating. But - I know many upper scale retailers that would love to place units like this in their showrooms so in my opinion you don't need CA magazine.

This is a Work of Art, and I cannot for the life of me understand the rating issued.

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Steve Sake (SSaka) "The construction of the humidor is incredibly solid throughout, with huge slabs of dovetail-jointed burl maple forming the principal construct of the humidor."

"At the request of Arlin Liss, I was asked if I would give one of his custom made humidors a consumer review. I told him I would be willing to provide such a review, but that I would require the use of the humidor for thirty days or longer as I would want to perform a real test rather than just a cursory examination of the unit. Also it was agreed that he would not publish my review in part. He is however welcome to use my entire review as written if he so desires.

"For those of you who may not know who Arlin Liss is, let me give you a brief introduction. Arlin is one of the few craftsmen in the United States who will make a customer a truly custom humidor from the ground up. Not only does his customer select their choice of any wood variety from a traditional Mahogany to any African exotic, but also the hardware and the deisgn elements of their humidor. Arlin creates humidors based on what his customers' desire whether it is an elegant desktop humidor to a freestanding, furniture-sized cigar cabinet.

"Since each piece is individual and unique to a particular customer's taste, it would be unjust of me to be too critical of cosmetic choices, so the bulk of my review is going to center on construction, quality and function. However, I do feel compelled to offer my comments on the aesthetics of the humidor I was sent to review. It is a traditional desktop humidor made from a gorgeous solid burl maple slab that is rich with swirls and grain of honey blonde and gold. With brass hardware and its finely mitered raised top it is quite an eye catching beauty which received numerous comments of praise by guests, cigar-smoking or not, who happened to join me in my den while I had the humidor for testing.

"The construction of the humidor is incredibly solid throughout, with huge slabs of dovetail-jointed burl maple forming the principal construct of the humidor. This is a very weighty box with sharply dovetailed corners and a substantial lid with a solid burl panel inset and a good fit to the base. Opening this lid reveals an exquisitely fitted and mitered Spanish Cedar liner of substantial body, in fact the liner itself is like its own box custom fitted within the maple unit. The inset, heavy brass hinges catch your attention immediately; these hinges are far heavier than any I have seen in any other desktop humidor. Also, included in this humidor are two heavy Spanish Cedar cigar trays which are dovetailed joined featuring a ventilated base and an ample supply of both horizontal and vertical dividers. And finally, the most important detail is the intricate, interlocking design of how the lid's liner meets the base. With almost 1/4" of overlap, this design creates a fantastic seal on the humidor resulting in that tremendously satisfying "whoosh" sound upon opening and closing that is the universal hallmark of a superb quality humidor.

"As for humidificaton, a unit this size would be fine with a passive humidifier; however the unit I was sent came with a Cigar Oasis brand active humidifier installed. I have never used one of these small units before, so this was a first for me. For those not familiar with the Cigar Oasis, it is an enclosed unit that houses a mousture reservoir at its base and a small, near silent electic fan which circulates moist air throughout the humidor when needed based on how you set a relative humidity potentiometer. My initial impression was that its 6' x 2" x 2 3/16" size simply took up too much space within this particular box. Also, I disliked that the humidor's design sllowed for it to only sit in the top tray, requiring the humidor's owner to move it in order to access the bottome cigar tray. And finally, since this is an active unit it requires power which means that there is a cord extendint from the back of unit which not only will require you to place this humidor near an outlet, but also makes it less attractive if you wanted to sit in in a place where the back might be visible like on the corner of a floating desk in an office or den.

"As for functionality, the Cigar Oasis performed marvelously. It did a fantastic job of regulating the relative humidity desired via its potentiometer. I was able to easily set it for a specific relative humidity ranging from 62% - 74%. In short, while I feel the unit is simply too large for this box and I disliked the tray location, I can definitely see its successful application in a significantly larger humidor that had a designated space designed for it along one side. To ensure the humidor's functionality, I also tested it with a traditional Credo-style passive humidifier. The humidor quickly rose to the desired relative humidity and had no difficulty maintaining an excellent stable environment for my cigars. As far as doing what a humidor should do, this one was the equal or better of any that I have used.

"Also packed with the humidor was an ExTech Electronic Hygrometer system that came with two units: one a small remote unit designed to be placed within the humidor and a second base unit designed to place elsewhere outside the box to allow you to remotely monitor the RH within your humidor. The small unit communicates with the base wirelessly so there are no additional cords; however the design of the remote unit is an odd teardrop shape making it difficult to mount within the box, so again it had to be laid in the tray taking up valuable cigar space. As for the remote base, it functioned well allowing you to see the RH within your humidor without lifting the lid and even features user adjustable relative humidity alarms. While the system functioned well and the gizmo-loving geek in me found it "tres cool" it is really unnecessary in my opinion. Personally, I would have preferred a simple electronic hygrometer that could be mounted within the humidor without sacrificing any cigar space.

"In conclusion, while I may feel the humidification and monitoring systems are an overkill for this desktop humidor, both functioned flawlessly. I used the humidor for thirty days straight to hold my daily cigars so I was opening and closing it at least four times each day. And although it was winter, which taxes many humidors' ability to maintain a stable, moist environment, this humidor had no problems whatsoever retaining the desired RH regardless of whether I was using the sophisticated active humidification system or a simple passive one. Although I would have chosen some different design elements if I were having Arlin craft a custom humidor, there is no denying that this one is a strikingly beautiful and capable humidor."

Find out more: Arlin Liss website