Smoke: Fresh Air
Helmut Bührle espouses some radical ideas. Contrary to almost every tobacconist and connoisseur in the United States, this German businessman believes that storing cigars in an airtight humidor is as ill-advised as leaving them on a bureau. “If the humidor or the cigar case is as airtight as a diving bell, the cigar lacks oxygen to breathe, and it becomes stale and loses delicacy,” he asserts. “If it is not airtight, then the moisture escapes and the cigar becomes dry.” The optimal environment for cigars, according to Bührle, consists of air that is approximately 90 percent humidified and 10 percent fresh. As the founder of Laura Chavin Cigars (named for his daughter and his mother), located outside Stuttgart, Germany, Bührle is no stranger to tobacco and its care. Bührle’s views may seem heretical initially, but his concept for cigar storage merely downsizes the environment of a walk-in humidor, where air inevitably surges in as smokers enter the chamber.
Bührle’s nonconforming beliefs about cigar containers extend to their appearance and style. “The diversity of the design of [today’s] humidors corresponds roughly to the choice of color at the time of the famous Ford Model T,” he explains. “You can have a humidor in any desired style as long as it has a wooden colored exterior with an interior offering a more or less inaccurate hygrostat.” Unless, Bührle notes, it is a Humid’or, the sculpture-like manifestation of his unorthodox approach to cigar storage. “[You] do not want to lock away the brown gold from the view of the ardent admirer,” Bührle says of the cigars, “but to store it so that it is present and inviting.”
With the Humid’or (starting at about $15,000), Bührle has created a precision instrument that monitors and regulates moisture in the top and bottom chambers, in any climate. The humidor also adjusts the conditions, depending on whether it is full or nearly empty. Inside each wood, steel, and translucent cast acrylic cabinet is a microchip that records the relative humidity and temperature every 30 minutes. A battery-operated ventilator (an unsightly external power cord was never considered) circulates fresh air as needed. Similarly, an adjustable moistening element in the Maison des Cigares, the company’s line of leather-bound portable cases (starting at about $625), prevents the cigars from becoming dry, and the slack, folding lid allows fresh air in. Eight sizes and an array of colors guarantee that each case is as stylish as it is functional.
The Humid’or is available in a choice of blue, red, white, or yellow. The smaller Humid’or holds from 150 to 180 cigars; the larger accommodates as many as 350 cigars.
Currently, the Humid’or waiting list is about six months. “We are very sorry to let our clients wait that long,” laments Bührle, “but every piece is an individually produced, unique item similar to a sculpture or a work of art. This kind of product never will be manufactured for the mass market.”