To me, there are two aspirational humidor brands: Daniel Marshall and Elie Bleu.
If you want a humidor from either brand there is a good chance you are pretty serious about not just your cigars but how they are stored. Unlike most of the humidors on the market today, both companies make humidors in their own factories with an amount of hand labor that is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Daniel Marshall’s humidors are made in California in a style that is very much classic: high-end woods in dark brown colors with generous amounts of lacquer. The company is probably best known for the Treasure Chest humidor which has a slight curve to the lid, but the company also makes humidors in more traditional rectangular shapes.
WHAT IS IT?
This is the Daniel Marshall Signature Series 30125 125-Cigar Humidor in burl. Its list price is $895.
The exterior measures 14 inches x 10 x 5.5, while the inside is 13 x 9 x 3.75, though the lattermost dimension is somewhat of a guess. Because of how the tray works, measuring interior height is pretty challenging; even without the tray it’s not entirely clear what the absolute maximum usable space would be.
Daniel Marshall describes the lacquer process as a “1,000 coat finish,” and while I don’t think there are 1,000 coats on this, there’s a lot of lacquer. When you see a piece that is this glossy it means that the wood almost jumps off the surface. In addition, the burl wood is accented by a black line that runs on the edges of the box itself.
Inside there is untreated Spanish cedar that comes from Brazil. It’s lighter in color than other humidors that aren’t using Spanish cedar and has a distinct smell. There is also a removable tray that has two dividers. It’s just a tray, but there’s a certain level of detail to its corners that give me the impression that it is definitely overbuilt. Underneath the tray is the bottom of the humidor, which doesn’t feature any removable vents.
The lid houses both the included humidifier and hygrometer, which is hidden in a box with a slotted cover. Both the humidifier and hygrometer can be removed, however, the wooden box that houses the hygrometer is not going anywhere. There’s also the numbers 1 through 12, used to help remind you when to refill the hygrometer.
Like every other humidor I’ve seen from the company, all of the hardware is gold-plated including the hinges, screws and included key.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Like a humidor should. The only special thing to note is the hygrometer can be removed, either by getting your finger in the space between it and the edge of thee wooden accent piece, or putting something like a knife in there. Once removed you will be able to replace its battery.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
It’s made in the U.S.A., which isn’t common. In fact, the last American-made desktop humidor I reviewed was a Daniel Marshall.
- The Classic Humidor Look — If you tell someone to think of a cigar humidor, they probably will think of something that looks like this. Dark, high gloss woods and a rectangular shape about the size of a shoebox. This is very much a high-end classic humidor.
- It Works — The box of a Daniel Marshall humidor is just made well. I’ve had some for over five years without issue and plenty of others have had them much longer.
- Everything is Finished Well — The lacquer might as well be a mirror, something that isn’t great for our purposes but looks awesome in person. In addition, it’s a solid piece of wood meaning the pattern is seamless. The hardware comes without any flaws and closing the humidor produces a naturally slow-closing ending with some audible sounds of the air moving.
- Real Spanish Cedar — There aren’t a ton of humidors that are using actual Spanish cedar and when you find one, you know it. There’s a sweeter smell that is incredibly distinct.
- The Hygrometer — Over the years we’ve acquired a handful of Daniel Marshall humidors and the digital hygrometers are not very accurate. I took three of the hygrometers out, placed new batteries in each and put them through two-step calibration. It produced a range of -4 to +18 between the three hygrometers. Furthermore, they are kind of a pain—although a lot easier compared to older models—to remove from the lid in case you need to do a battery swap.
- The Humidifier — It’s florists foam, which shouldn’t be used in humidors in 2019. The issue with florists foam is that there’s no real way to control the relative humidity. Most people will tell you to use a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol, which definitely limits the humidity but doesn’t do it in any precise manner like beads or Bovedas.
- The Box Surrounding the Humidifier Cannot be Removed — On one hand, I really like the appearance of hiding the plastic humidifier behind some wood, the problem is that if you end up not using the florists foam like me, there’s a lot of wasted space. Sure, you can stick Bovedas in there, but if the box wasn’t there you’d be able to probably fit another 20 cigars in the humidor. It’s also worth noting that the humidifier section goes pretty deep into the humidor, perhaps even lower than the top of the tray, which itself doesn’t come close to the lip of the bottom piece of the humidor.
- 125 Cigars Aren’t Going to Fit in Here — When I shot the video above, there was only 58 cigars in the humidor. Some were larger than average, but nothing like a 7 x 70. Getting to 75 cigars would be challenging unless the next 17 were all petit coronas and getting to 100, let alone 125, seems laughable. When you put the interior dimensions into this particular humidor calculator, you can see that the 125 number isn’t going to happen unless you are using very small cigars.
The biggest competition is Daniel Marshall itself. The company sells Private Stock humidors, slightly blemished new models, at pretty steep discounts. At this moment in time, there aren’t any Signature Series 125s in the store but I’d imagine you could expect to save between 30-50 percent when it happens.
- Daniel Marshall Ambiente 125 ($445) — The lower-end Daniel Marshall Ambiente is more or less the same box with a much more plain exterior. It’s also half the price and has served me well for the past five years. Looks are subjective, but if you aren’t into high gloss finishes, this is a very easy alternative to recommend.
- Zino Z80 Humidor ($695) — I described the Zino Z80 Humidor as the best-made humidor under $1,000. It’s slightly smaller in usable space than the Daniel Marshall, but not by much. While the Zino’s looks are not my favorite, it’s built as well as any humidor I’ve seen and with more modern approaches to hardware.
- Prometheus Milano Octagon ($649) — Prometheus’ Octagon and Milano lines come in 100-count sizes that probably hold a similar amount of cigars. Given that I keep mentioning these in reviews, it’s on a short list for a formal review.
- Savoy Executive Medium ($435) — If you have to balance quality versus price, the Savoy Executive line is still my go-to. It’s built in a manner that is similar to the luxury humidors, but the price point is noticeably different. The Savoy isn’t as pretty many of those humidors, but when it comes to protecting your cigars, it’s as good as any of the options on this list outside of the Private Stock option mentioned above.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
I definitely would recommend a Daniel Marshall humidor but whether that’s this one is up to you. I would probably spend the extra money for the slightly larger Treasure Chest or save money or go for the cheaper Ambiente, but that’s just me. The important thing to note here is that I’ve yet to find any reason to believe that any of the desktop Daniel Marshall humidors will function differently; the choice comes down to what size you want, what exterior you want and how much you are willing to spend. If you want a traditional-looking, American-made humidor, this is the best option, albeit one of the only options. Regardless, as someone that’s used Daniel Marshall humidors for years, I can tell you they are built to last and they will, just don’t use anything that comes attached to the lid.
The humidor for this review was sent to halfwheel by Daniel Marshall.