Back in 2012, when General Cigar Co. released the first four cigars in what was known as 'Foundry' and what later became it's own brand, Foundry Tobacco Company--there were rumors of a potential marketing gimmick--a sort of 'secret decoder ring' that was shipping with each cigar. The ring, which was styled as a small, metal 'gear' looked attractive and certainly made the cigar stand out from the crown. But what was the purpose of that gear? And would it really turn out to part of a larger whole? Or were we just being led down the garden path After a year of anticipation...the secret revealed:
Foundry Tobacco Company's humidor arrives in an attractive glossy white cardboard box, with a shimmery, slightly metallic "foundry" logo stamped on the lid. A pleasing package with a modern, contemporary look, in contrast to the Steampunk/Victorian aesthetic Foundry is known for. The box is sturdy--I feel secure that the humidor contained within is well-protected.
But I have to say, I'm surprised by how small this box is. I've seen perhaps one picture of this humidor online, I always assumed it to be larger, longer. What I have in front of me is approximately 8"x8."
The unboxing is a treat--the humidor appears to be well-cushioned: it ships in a bubble-wrap envelope, with tissue protecting the inner edges of the humidor from unecessary friction against the humidor lid. Kudos for considring shipping issues. Once the bubble-wrap and tissue are removed, I'm left with this:
The humidor is covered in a golden-brown tan leather, reminiscent of fine Connecticut wrappers. There are antiqued bronze-looking filigree corners and an over-sized locking mechanism that claims pride of place atop the humidor. Surrounding the lock, across the Connecticut leather, an embossed rusty grate lends both color and texture. An impressive unveiling. Time to pull this out of the protective glossy box.
After removing the humidor, I turn it to its side: on one end there's a leather 'suitcase' handle, secured by to aged bronze-looking tabs. Sturdy and well-secured, I have no doubt that the handle will wear well and carry the travel humidor easily. The raised handle padding is for looks more than function, but it's a an appreciated visual element. There are more decorative edge protectors on each corner of the humidor.
Turning the humidor again, I inspect both hinged ends of the box. The metal hinge is wide and strong. It should easily support the weight of the dual-lift lid. The leather is slightly pock-marked and I assume this is either intentional weathering of the leather--or just natural marks in the skin, and not a defect per se. It doesn't look like a defect, but I mention it for those who may be expecting a perfectly smooth exterior. The imperfections add to Foundry's overall all artistic conceit: antique/retro reinvention of the new.
The one MAJOR disappointment here is that ridiculous warning sticker. This absolutely should have been placed on the bottom of the box, instead of marring the leather. It is extremely difficult to remove and pulls the leather to distortion. After trying futilely for several minutes to remove it, I'm going to hit it with a hairdryer (carefully!) to see if heating the sticker will soften the adhesive and allow me to remove this offensive thing, without further pulling the leather. A stupid misstep for yet another Smoking Warning. As though every box of cigars, every carton of cigarettes, every nicotine advertisement doesn't already carry this warning--please, by all means, slap a shitty sticker on this leather box!
The bottom of the box is also covered with leather (!) where I'd have expected, say, felt. The leather wrap is a very nice touch--but wherever that sticker ends up, exercise extreme care with removal. But enough crabbing, let's open this baby up!
Yes, both sides open to lay completely flat--but I wanted some pics of the angled edge. The lighter & cutter are thrown in for size: again, this is a quite small box. I'd call it a travel humidor, but many popular long cigars will not fit within the interior dimensions. Consider that. Here, the hinge is well displayed--it's tough and will surely wear well. These wings aren't going anywhere anytime soon! The cedar-lined chest is well constructed, without any gaps. I look forward to seasoning this little guy, to see how well it maintains its humidity. Closed the lids fit snugly onto the base. I have high hopes that the additional expansion, once treated, will seal this humidor up tight. Time will tell.
Michael Giannini, General Cigar Co's creative director and the originator of the Foundry cigar line has described this little box as a sort of Victorian tool box. It's an imaginative idea--but no tools would even begin to fit in this little crate. Much of Foundry is driven more by artistic vision and playful re-invention, rather than strict adherence to function or 'real-world' alternative use. It works! Although, I wish his humidor was about 2 inches longer, end-to-end. If this were the case, it would fit all but the longest of cigars, and I believe greatly enhance its usability/usefulness. C'est la vie.
The first smoke I dropped in here, knowing it would be too large, is Foundry's Uranium cigar. This stogie's a big'un at 7x70. Woof. It fits, but only angled. Regardless of girth, any long cigar (over 6+ inches) will have trouble in this petite humidor. Pictured next are a handful of Foundry cigars that do fit: and it's just about every other offering in their line.
So let's talk Gear. Specifically, the small metal gear that shipped with every original Foundry cigar in 2012 (the Caley, Lovelace, Talbot and Wells). All along, Foundry teased us with hints that this ring wasn't just for looks, or an advertising stunt, but would fulfill an actual purpose... if only we would wait a while. Turns out, the secret was a locking mechanism found on the travel humidor. The gear is pulled off the cigar, and placed within a circular depression on the lock. Once in place, the gear spokes capture small studs within the lock. A twist of the ring engages and rotates the studs and voila! The box is now locked. Each travel humidor ships UNlocked--should you not yet have the gear, you aren't locked out of your box.
Overall, a great little travel humidor. Add a couple inches to it and it would be perfect--but for a majority of average to small sized cigars, this petite humidor will be fine. The construction is tight, the aesthetic fully in sync with the rest of Foundry's artistic vision. Use it as a keepsake box with or without the gear--or just an interesting conversation piece, a part of Foundry's unusual and innovative packaging for their fascinating cigars. I give it an 8 out of 10, points lost for the small, square size that simply can't accommodate a longer smoke. The incredibly stupid sticker I can't blame on the designers--no points lost for redundant gov't warnings.