Veneer: Vavona burl|
Interior: Spanish cedar
Capacity: 150 cigars
Humidification: Daniel Marshall System (one unit)
Details: 24-karat gold fixtures, lock and key, magnetic cutter holder, magnetic refill calendar, digital hygrometer; comes with Daniel Marshall stainless stell guillotine cutter and 20 Daniel Marshall private-label cigars
Contact: (800) 923-2889 firstname.lastname@example.org
A celebrated veteran of the humidor business, California craftsman Daniel Marshall finds himself again at the top of the ratings with this large, stylish humidor. It is a great buy, given the accoutrements, size of the box and quality of its construction. The smoky, striking hazel veneer has a shimmering undertone. The humidor includes some nice extras: a magnet to hold a cigar cutter, a second magnetic system that serves as a calendar to remind you when it's time to refill the humidification device, as well as a cedar grate over the top of the humidifier, which dresses up the inside lid, giving it uniformity and balance. There is plenty of room for smokes, and the arched lid safeguards against scratches that might come from a flat top (should someone decide your humidor should double as a coaster or, say, a base for a doll collection).
The humidor functioned very well; it didn't need a refill, never fell below 65 percent humidity and never rose above 70. It was still going strong at the review's end.
Number 1 Thuya
$3,605 / (203) 323-5811
Humidification: Two large passive units proprietary to Davidoff
Details: Tray, dividers, lock and key, no hygrometer
This humidor lives up to the Davidoff reputation for top-quality craftsmanship and hardware and earned the highest rating in our test. It is a beautiful box with clean lines and an elegant lock and key. The lid is of good weight and sits solidly in place, attached with a durable, full piano hinge. The side handles are countersunk and perfectly flush with the box, allowing for function while not disturbing the form of the unit. During the six weeks of testing, the box required refilling only once and maintained humidity levels within the optimal range. The only flaw we could find, and we were looking for one, is that there is no hygrometer included with the box. The company philosophy is that such a device is unnecessary since its humidity regulator should achieve consistent levels without monitoring.
Daniel Marshall Series 1999/165 Cigar
Humidor in Vavona Burl
$595 / (800) 923-2889
Interior: Spanish cedar
Humidification: One Credo 70 passive device made for Daniel Marshall
Details: Magnetic marking calendar, dividers, digital hygrometer, lock and key, brass plaque, distilled water and five Daniel Marshall cigars
The best buy of the boxes we rated is the Daniel Marshall humidor. It achieves an elegant look while performing as well as, if not better than, the higher-priced units. The box has a beautiful burl veneer. Inside, an attractive cedar container does an excellent job of dressing up the humidification device. The hinges are durable and provide a whisper-soft seal when the lid is closed. A magnetic calendar inside the lid functions as a discreet reminder - one we find smokers need - to recharge the Credo. Some editors felt the handles and lock detracted from the look of the humidor. Thankfully, mounting and engraving the brass plaque is reserved as an option, as some would prefer not to ruin the look of the burl with a nameplate. Adding to the good value, Marshall even throws in five of his own premium cigars.
DANIEL MARSHALL INC.
will introduce made-to-order Florentine sterling silver humidors, and add 100-cigar and 150-cigar sizes to its Crystal humidor line and a travel model to its Ambiente series. It will also launch a line of Italian leather accessories and a Cocobolo Rosewood desk collection. Marshall will also unveil a Honduran line of Daniel Marshall Signature Cigars to compliment its new Dominican cigar line.
A Taste of Good Living
Ideally, a humidor should be both handsome and functional, without overwhelming its surroundings. The price range is wide: anything from about R500 for a 50-cigar capacity to over R3 500 for the top of the range Daniel Marshall.|
The top brands are Dunhill (UL), Elie Bleu (France), Davidoff (Switzerland) and Daniel Marshall (USA).
RIGHT: A magnificent 50-cigar humidor, crafted from burl wood, with an interior lined with untreated Spanish Cedar. A Daniel Marshall (USA) creation that took nearly four months to make.
Investing in a humidor requires careful thought. Just as if you were buying a new care, you'll want to look carefully at the construction and performance features of a humidor, as well as its finish. If the seams aren't perfect, or if the corners aren't square, skip that humidor.
A humidor that does not maintain a constant tropical humidity and temperature, no matter how pretty it is, is a waste of money and cigars.
Daniel Marshall produces some of the finest handmade humidors in the world. We were excited to talk about his success, travels and tribulations.
SCCM: How long have you been making humidors?
DM: This is my eleventh year.
SCCM: What gave you the idea to start?
DM: I've always built models and worked with wood. Years ago I had this big dream to sail around the world, so I was building a 42 foot sailboat. A friend of mine, an elderly gentleman who loves cigars and had made a fortune in the insurance business wanted to lend me some money for the boat. I didn't want to take the money, but because he believed in me, to show my appreciation, I found out what size and shape his favorite cigar was and decided I would make him a three cigar case made of teak wood. I worked three weeks on that. Something in the back of my mind always told me that this was going to lead to something big, something I could really enjoy doing. I gave the case to him and he loved it. He encouraged me to go to Beverly Hills with the case and show it to a merchant there. They loved it but said I would have to go to New York to show the corporate office there. From there I was told to go to London and show it again to get it approved. The people in London loved it and asked me to make them some humidors. That's how I got started.
SCCM: Have you found a particular wood that is best for making humidors?
DM: There are quite a few different woods that you can choose from, but I always try to choose the rarest, most exotic, brilliantly patterned and colored textured wood. Woods with the highest figure. Some of our burls fit this picture. They're remarkable and unique. What we try to do is take a wood that nature has created for us and add a little human touch to make it something useful. Probably my favorite wood to work with is the burl. It's the most challenging and enjoyable because it's the thinnest, the easiest to break, hardest to find, etc... Of course the interior wood that we work with is Spanish cedar or Cedros cedar. It's the wood that many fine cigars are packed in.
SCCM: What is most important in making a humidor the best it can be?
DM: For your soul or your cigar? ...For the beauty of the box and the aesthetics, the magic of having a fine humidor that houses your treasured cigars it's probably a combination of all the ingredients. One ingredient isn't more important than the other. Strictly from a functional point of view it would be the wood on the interior that is closest to your cigars and a proper humidification system. Also, what is very important is the fit of the box and making sure that the humidor is made in a way that it can resist atmospheric changes and stay stable.
SCCM: Do humidors need to be made airtight?
DM: The people who make humidors that aren't airtight say it's not important and that it's more important to have circulation. Humidors should be tightly fitting to allow a minimal amount of air to pass through. By the same token it does not hurt cigars to receive fresh air from time to time, even on a daily basis. You do want to avoid any rapid, long term changed that sometimes air conditioning can cause.
SCCM: How long can a humidor keep cigars preserved?
DM: I believe you can keep cigars for a very long time. I have smoked pre-Castros that were resurrected in my humidor and they were nostalgic and unforgettable.
SCCM: What is the greatest cigar sighting you've ever had?
DM: Interesting that you ask, as I sent you a picture yesterday taken a Cohiba Divan in the Mandarin Hotel Hong Kong. It's a picture of one of my humidors stocked with precious cigars. Next to it was an ashtray full of the clipped ends from many priceless cigars. Quite a sight!
SCCM: What do you like to see when you open up one of your humidors, either at your home or at a clients?
DM: It's really a thrill when I go into a client's home and see their humidor proudly displayed, full of their favorite cigars.
SCCM: Do you smoke yourself?
DM: Yes I do. Recently, I was in Hong Kong and opening an account there at the Cohiba Divan. I realized what a dream it must be for any cigar lover to be able to go there and purchase a cigar. They range from the 1492 which is $15,000 US a box all the way down to the lowly Montecristo A. You can buy it there and go up to the bar and have a smoke.
SCCM: You're living the life of Reiley. Have you made humidors for anyone famous?
DM: Many. Actors, Kings, you... all kinds of people.
SCCM: You're huge.
SCCM: How has business been?
DM: Well, as you know the whole industry is having a major resurgence. There are two things that have a lot to do with it. One is CIGAR AFICIONADO magazine. The publication's presentation is superb and their Big Smoke events have done an enormous amount to bring cigars to the surface. The other factor is people like yourselves that have taken their interest in cigars and shared it with others. Reporting restaurants that are holding dinners and promoting cigars and the cigar industry keeps everyone informed.
I know you do it as a labor of love and it's something wonderful.
I hope this thing spreads.
SCCM: Thank you very much, Danny.
DM: It truly was my pleasure.
Handcrafted humidors for
discerning cigar smokers.
By Jane Stillman
Daniel Marshall calls his exquisitely crafted tobacco humidors and related accessories "smokers' furniture." "We make so many humidor models ... rolling tables with glass tops for restaurants, tables with glass ... so many things that fall in the furniture category," he explains. "It [that label] is better than 'cigar boxes.'"
A lifelong interest in woodworking provided Marshall with the skills to design and craft fine wood objects. In the early 1980s, the California native was building a 42-foot boat which he hoped to sail around the world, when a friend - wealthy, elderly gentleman who also was a cigar aficionado - offered to help fund that endeavor. Marshall declined the money but, in appreciation of his friend's generosity, made him a teak three-cigar case. The gentleman was so pleased that he encouraged Marshall to show his work to luxury gift vendors. He did; they placed orders; and the boat never got finished.
Since then, Marshall has created private label merchandise - humidors, lighters, ashtrays, and desk accessories in exotic woods - for Tiffany & Company, Alfred Dunhill, S.T. Dupont, FRED Joallier, and Harrods of London among others. He currently offers a line of humidors, desk sets, home accessories, clocks, and jewelry cases under his own label, D. Marshall.
Every object in the D. Marshall precious wood collection is entirely hand-built.
From the selection of the woods to the "1,000-coat" lacquer finish and polishing, the humidors undergo 175 individual procedures. The entire process typically requires nearly four months to complete (though a humidor can be delivered in 48 hours; several of each model are kept in stock). Marshall uses exotic woods - such as cocobolo rosewood and Makassar ebony, bird's-eye maple, and walnut burl. Simpler in design and styling are those in the Ambiente Collection, finished in black lacquer, matte black, or burgundy.
Marshall uses untreated Spanish cedar in the interiors of his humidors because he believes that natural cedar enables fine cigars to "become alive." Such an environment, he says, allows the rich oils in the cigar to mature and delicately coat the wrapper.
All of Marshall's desktop humidors are fitted with Credo Precision 70 regulators designed to allow an atmosphere of 68 percent to 72 percent humidity. Most of Marshall's humidors are also equipped with analog hygrometers; digital types are available on request. The smaller traveler's models use the "clay bar" humidity system.
His stock humidors, from the 12-cigar travel size to the 500-cigar, four-tray design, are priced from $295 to $2,995.
Marshall also produces a limited edition collection of Treasure Chest humidors designed in varying sizes for the storage of 50, 100, or 150 cigars. The Treasure Chests (from $1,395 to $2,795; the price of a 500-cigar chest is available on request) are hand-signed, numbered, dated, and dedicated to each collector by Marshall. An 18-karat gold logo is affixed to the interior of each.
Marshall recently introduced several new models. A 25-cigar sterling silver humidor ($3,495) displays an 18-karat gold "DM" logo on front of the lid. A 200-cigar humidor crafted in rosewood has beveled glass walls ($1,995). A 100-cigar burled wood humidor has wood marquetry ornamentation on the lid ($745). Specially designed for smokers who favor churchill cigars is the Churchill humidor in two sizes. One holds 66 cigars ($595), and a larger model holds 100 cigars ($775). Leather covered humidors ($595), hand-tooled by Gianni Versace's craftsmen in Italy, accommodate 33 robustos or 22 churchills.
Larger pieces, such as a cigar humidor on wheels, can be made to a client's specifications, and prices reflect those criteria. The rolling humidor tables have glass tops to allow visual display of the cigars and a small folding shelf which facilitates the ritual of clipping a cigar and dipping it in cognac prior to lighting. Prices are available on request.
Better than "boxes" indeed.
At the top end of elegance, we have the D. Marshall humidors, with their hand-rubbed "one thousand coat" lacquer finish that makes each one radiate like the fine piece of furniture that it is. These humidors are so finely crafted that the Credo moisturizer on my 150 cigar model only has to be refreshed once every two months. For the connoisseur on the go, D. Marshall has a leather covered travel humidor that looks right at home in the cockpit of an ZKS Jag. Recently introduced is a less expensive version of Daniel Marshall's craftsmanship, the Ambiente. Instead of his legendary lacquer coating, the Ambiente incorporates a handsome matte finished maroon, green, or black exterior.
In the two previous installments of CIGAR AFICIONADO's cigar education series - excerpted from editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken's Shanken's Cigar Handbook - we examined cigar shapes, colors and sizes as well as proper cutting and lighting techniques. In this installment we explore the ways cigar aficionados can maintain the freshness of their cigars. In many ways, fine cigars are like wine, orchids or humans traveling in space. They are natural, organic and sensitive to their environment. They are the mature products of a carefully controlled combination of temperature and moisture.
Cognac and cigars, two of life's great pleasures, are paired in this handmade Daniel Marshall cigar humidor that comes with a bottle of Hennessy X.O. and two brandy glasses.
Prince Rainier of Monaco one, and so do Ross Perot and Julio Iglesias. Now D. Marshall, the Tustin , California-based manufacturer of luxury "smoker's furniture," offers a new collection of humidors, lighters and ashtrays meticulously hand-crafted from rare and fine woods. As the creator of private label merchandise for such prestige houses as Alfred Dunhill and Tiffany & Co., Marshall has a certain expertise with the demands of the cigar fancier, and offers models that range from a slim, 12-cigar travel humidor to a boardroom model designed to maintain 500 coronas in cedar-perfumed perfection. Factory direct prices are available on items priced from $8.95 to $2,995.
3. DUNHILL OF LONDON ACCESSORIES. D. MARSHALL FOR DUNHILL TRAVEL HUMIDOR.
10. D. MARSHALL TEAK TRIPLE CASE, $170, AND BURL ELM TRAVEL HUMIDOR.
D. MARSHALL FOR DUNHILL
This box is expertly made, and its slim design is particularly attractive since it can still accommodate seven cigars. But perhaps because it is so thin (with less air flow and room for condensation than its cousin below), or maybe because there is only one water-bottle-as-regulator, the cigars kept there were dry at the end of the test.
This box is an updated model of the one above, with two bottles and a partition between cigars and regulators. The two bottles worked far better than the one, and cigars kept here were silky and ready to be smoked. The capacity of the D. Marshall is 16 cigars (though larger models are available). The finish, like all D . Marshall items, is artfully done, with a perfect fit between lid and box.
Interior: Spanish Cedar
Humidification: Daniel Marshall
Details: Hygrometer, brass plaque, two dividers, magnetic calendar, water bottle, five Daniel Marshall cigars
At home in any room, with any décor, the straightforward Ambiente is a workhorse with style. It's also the best bargain in the market. The finish is not up to the level of the luxury models, but the box is sleek and charming in its simplicity, and its performance was superb, keeping our cigars silky and perfect.
Despite the low price, the Ambiente has several nice extras that many of the more expensive pieces lack, including a magnetic calendar to remind you when to refill and recharge the humidification device, as well as an elegant hygrometer. The manufacturer even throws in five of his private label cigars. It has some rough spots, but the performance and price of the Ambiente easily outweigh any minor flaws. It's hard to beat this value.
Daniel Marshall, one of several manufacturers producing heirloom-quality humidors in Orange County, and by far the best known, offers a similar experience.
"I've had people say that they buy the humidor from me and buy the furniture to match," says Marshall, who's been making humidors in Santa Ana for 14 years. "Some have asked me to make matching furniture. It's gone that far."
Ray Sanford of Irvine, graphic layout artist for Cigar Monthly magazine, offered only the highest praise for Wheaton: "I've been smoking cigars for 11 years, and the Plantation Humidors, Daniel Marshall and Elie Bleu are the nicest humidors I've seen."
Lido Cigar also features handiwork of Fullerton's John Ellis, who is partial to exotic hardwoods such as African wenge, padauk and cocobola. The cabinetmaker counts among his clients several executives at Paramount Studios.
"I'm hoping these humidors will stay in these families forever," Ellis says. "They're of a quality that will last a lifetime at least and certainly could be handed down." The studio itself just took delivery from Ellis of a 6-by-3-foot, glass-topped humidor.
But then, Hollywood is big on humidors. Actor George Hamilton has a Marshall humidor in his Bentley. (Hamilton will present his new line of super-premium cigars at a dinner at John Dominis Restaurant in Newport Beach on Oct. 3.)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, featured on a recent cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine, owns a model from Marshall's Signature Treasure Chest series. Other well-known smokers who own Marshall humidors include Jack Nicholson, former President Reagan and rock artist Eddie Van Halen.
Says Marshall: "One of my biggest pleasures is to visit the actual location and see how one of our humidors is used, how it's positioned inside the home-or office or boat or jet."
Joe de Franco has two humidors at his office in Irvine and two in his Big Canyon home, a small one for the den and a large 3-by-4-foot Dunhill humidor (capacity 1,500 cigars) that sits on the bar, He describes it as "an adornment that adds much to the luxuriousness of the living room and bar areas."
Daniel Marshall introduces its Red Label Cigar Collection. This new line of smokes was created to fit a wide range of price points. The Red Label is a blend of Ecuador-grown Connecticut shade wrapper and Dominican filler and binder. The cigars are box aged for three months before they are released. The suggested retail price for the 5" x 50 Robustos is $4.95 per stick or $123.75 for a cabinet of 25. The 7" x 48 Churchills are priced at $5.75 a stick or $143.75 for a cabinet of 25.
Daniel Marshall also launches the Daniel Marshall No.2, an addition to the 1998 collection. This 5" x 52 Petite Belicoso is full bodied, according to the company, and has a black and gold DM cigar band. Suggested retail price for the No. 2 is $10.95 per stick or $275 for a cabinet of 25. For more information, call (714) 973-8660.
When the haze clears, these cigars, pipes, and humidors stand out as the absolute winners.
By Richard Carleton Hacker
This year presents quite a different scene for smokers. The classic brands of cigars are back, and boutique stogies have gone the way of last year's fashions, which is exactly what they were. Arturo Fuente Hemingway continues its reign in the superpremium category for the same reasons it was selected as last year's winner. In spite of continuing demand and a growing scarcity of Cameroon leaf, the Hemingway has never sacrificed its consistency. From the 9 x 52 Masterpiece to the diminutive Short Story, the earthy, robust, and elegant Fuente Hemingway continues to epitomize the finest skill of the best torcedors.
A new shape has been born, the Work of Art, a slightly larger version of the 4.5-inch Short Story, one of the most difficult figurados to roll. The 5-inch Work of Art starts with a perfectly pointed perfecto tip, expands to a 58-ring gauge, and then dramatically tapers down to an 18 ring within the final half-inch. There are fewer than 75 rollers in the four Fuente factories who can create this cigar.
No Hemingway is ever boxed until it has been aged for a minimum of six months or, in the many cases, longer if the family feels that the tobaccos need more time to meld their flavors. Running close second is the Cuban Montecristo No. 2, one of the most consistent of all Havana cigars. In spite of an edict by...
1. Arturo Fuente Hemingway
2. Cuban Montecristo No.2
3. Ashton Cabinet
4. Padrón Anniversary
5. Davidoff Double R
1. Elie Bleu
2. D. Marshall
1. Alfred Dunhill
4. Don Carlos
5. Erik Nording
D. Marshall humidors work and work well. The hand-rubbed lacquered finish of these pieces is the envy of all others.
Photo, above left: Sterling silver cocktail shaker, $995, by Calvin Klein. Call (212)292-9000. Sterling silver ice tongs, $45, by Calvin Klein. Call (800)294-7978. Aluminum-and-rubber Aluminium Watch, $1,600, by Bulgari. Call (800)BULGARI. Vega Martini glass, $92.50, by Baccarat. Call (800)777-0100. Photo, top right: cotton Havana henley, $60, by Blue Marlin. Call (888)258-6756. Photo, bottom right: Sea Island cotton shirt, $155, by Sulka. Call (800) 75-SULKA. Silky leather desk/travel humidor, $495, by Daniel Marshall. Call (714)973-8660.
|Some of the world's most elegant tobacco humidors are designed and hand-built by Daniel Marshall. Available in a variety of precious woods, a number of options may be custom ordered, including silver and gold inlays of family crests, initials and even complete signatures. This burlwood cased, cedar lined D. Marshall humidor is being held open by a silver ringed Nørding. Resting at the base is a superbly styled Ascorti bent with silver band.|
1. Daniel Marshall Ambiente
Good cigars improve with age - provided they're cared for properly in a humidor like this one, built of Spanish cedar, from Daniel Marshall ($445). (800 923-2889)
Daniel Marshall, Inc.
Post Office Box 3841
Tustin, California 92781
Copyright © 2003 Daniel Marshall, Inc., All Rights Reserved