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Smoke: Hold the Smokes

You are not sure exactly when it happened. You have always enjoyed cigars—the aroma, the relaxation, the camaraderie. It began with your stocking up on a few select brands, buying them from your favorite tobacconist and during your travels, perhaps on a memorable trip to a country off the Florida Keys. Then one day it happened: Cigars went from being a hobby to an investment.

You have filled so many desktop humidors that you have run out of desktops, but resist the urge to empty the Chippendale of the Limoges. Such furniture is not designed to hold and circulate humidity, and its beauty will seem veneer-deep if it ruins your smokes. Your cigars require storage that is specifically designed to maintain proper humidity while looking great in the process. You are in need of a cigar cabinet, and this is where a humidor maker such as J.C. Pendergast enters the picture. Pendergast has been creating cabinet humidors for more than 30 years and has specialized in architectural millwork since the 1950s. Cabinets made by the Racine, Wis., company—from small countertop displays to built-in units—are found in homes, cigar bars, and tobacconists’ shops throughout the world.

Whatever the size, each humidor begins with air. “We design and build airflow channels before we build the cabinetwork,” says Jim Pendergast, the company’s owner and president. Proper airflow is essential to maintaining the ideal 70 percent humidity, which J.C. Pendergast achieves with an electronic system that is usually installed on the bottom shelf of the cabinet.

Although you may need a cabinet humidor, Pendergast insists it is unlikely that you need one with a built-in refrigeration system. “These people buying into refrigerated cigar cases are throwing 3,000 bucks away,” he says, noting that most cabinets sold by his company and others are placed in temperature-controlled homes or businesses, making additional temperature control redundant. The only exceptions, he says, may be customers who live in warm climates or who travel for weeks at a time.


Each Pendergast cabinet is made to order, and the CA Series (priced from $2,495 to $4,065) is the most popular base model. Its capacity ranges from 1,500 cigars in the 2-foot-by-4-foot CA2448 to 5,000 in the 4-foot-by-almost-7-foot CA4880. Each cabinet features glass panels, brass fittings, a Spanish cedar interior, and an exterior constructed of cherry, Spanish cedar, or Honduran mahogany. All CA cabinets have an automatic evaporative-type humidification system with a removable two-gallon reservoir, automatic adjustable humidistat, and digital hygrometer and thermometer. The top-of-the-line SD4880 (starting at $5,495) also offers fluted columns, crown molding, and custom carving.

Creating a bespoke cabinet with the customer’s choice of wood, finish, size, and trim does not add as much to the cost as you might expect. “We don’t hit you with the custom hammer,” says Pendergast of the nominal fee. “We were going to make it for you anyway.”

J.C. Pendergast, 888.486.4348, www.jcpendergast.com

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