In 2010, acclaimed winemaker Fred Schrader released two different cigars for a new brand bearing his name, Para Ti and the Schrader Hispañiola Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I. Both of were produced at the small Para Ti factory outside the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic.
While the Para Ti debuted in four different vitolas, the Schrader Hispañiola DOCO-EST MMIX-I was sold in just one vitola: a 7 1/2 x 56 salomon that came with a price tag of $26.95. Only 11,500 cigars were produced, each enclosed in a unique wooden coffin in boxes of 10.
Although the cigars were not released until 2010, they were actually rolled in late 2009 and incorporate a blend consisting of a 2001 Colorado habana viso wrapper from Honduras, a Dominican criollo ’98 seco binder and a combination of three different Dominican fillers: corojo ligero from 2001, Havana vuelta arriba ligero from 2005, and criollo ’98 viso from 2008.
In an email blast, Fred Schrader had this to say about the release:
Dear Friends of Schrader,
My love affair with cigars started forty-two years ago as a twenty year old, with Gerald Randolph — friend, colleague and mentor in art, wine and cigars. He introduced me to fine Cuban cigars one night over some 1890’s Armangac, and I have been exploring the craft ever since.
This year I have produced a magnificent cigar under the guidance of American cigar wizard, and recognized leading tobacconist, Michael “The Stickman” Herklots. At his boutique cigar factory, Para Ti, we were able to create “The Sparky,” a limited edition cigar unique in size, shape and blend. Just as we have sought the finest fruit and the greatest talent to produce incredible wines, we have sourced the finest tobaccos available in the market today. In our continuing effort to create new incredible flavors and experiences for our loyal customers, we are proud to announce the release of the first production of Schrader Hispañiola, the Schrader “DOCO-EST MMIX-I.”
We invite you, the Schrader Faithful, to the first opportunity to purchase these limited cigars. Whether you share with friends and family during the holiday season, or simply enjoy on your own, I guarantee you this is a cigar that you will not soon forget.
Salute, Fred Schrader
Interestingly, Schrader chose another friend in the cigar business, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars, to help him distribute the cigars. Johnson’s Havana Cellars was the exclusive distributor for the inaugural releases, although he had nothing to do with the actual blending of the cigars themselves.
Pete Johnson shed some light on the subject:
Schrader is a project coming out of the factory Para Ti. This is actually a project for a friend of mine; he’s doing the whole thing and I’m distributing it for him. [Winemaker] Fred Schrader got some big ratings and he wanted to celebrate by making a cigar since he’s a cigar smoker. Out of four wines, he got a total of 398 points. He wanted to have this little cigar and he needed someone to distribute it, and, of course, me being the wine geek I am, he was hooked up with me through a friend. Part of the deal was to distribute the Para Ti brand also, which I had no problem with.
I’m only doing the distribution, but it’s a trip for me because it’s a completely different country for me to be working with. This is their blend, I OKed it; I told them I’d be happy to sell it because the product is good. I don’t know a lot about the factory except that it’s called Para Ti and it’s very small.
This is a way for me to help out a friend in the industry, but also, people have asked me to do this before and I never really wanted to do it and this one just seemed to fit right. It’s a good smoke and I enjoy smoking it. It’s one of those thing I feel I can get behind.
The capacity of the factory is so small that they can open up maybe 150 retailers. It’s not a big deal for the sales reps. It’s not going to intrude on my product, because – what’s nice about it – it’s completely different than my product. People can’t expect to smoke a Tatuaje when they smoke this. I have enough trouble trying to convince people that they can’t expect to smoke a Tatuaje when they are smoking an Ambos Mundos or El Triunfador.
The coffins that the Schrader Hispañiola Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I come in are quite interesting, with a cradle that the cap — which is covered in a small piece of tissue paper — rests in. When the lid of the coffin is opened, the cradle pushes the cap of the cigar up, forcing the cigar to be pushed out and presented.
Cigar Reviewed: Schrader Hispañiola Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Para Ti
Wrapper: Honduran Colorado Habana Viso (2001)
Binder: Dominican Criollo ’98 Seco
Filler: Dominican Corojo Ligero (2001), Dominican Havana Vuelta Arriba Ligero (2005) & Dominican Criollo ’98 Viso (2008)
Size: 7 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 41/50/56
MSRP: $26.95 (Boxes of 10, $269.50)
Date Released: 2010
Number of Cigars Released: 1,150 Boxes of 10 Cigars (11,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The DOCO-EST MMIX-I is covered in a reddish brown wrapper that is completely smooth to the touch, but sports numerous veins running up and down the length of the cigar. It is quite hard when squeezed, although there is a bit of give, and just a tiny amount of oil visible. Aroma coming from the wrapper is faint, but distinct leather, barnyard, chocolate and pepper, while the cold draw brings a surprising amount of sweet orange citrus and creamy cedar.
The Schrader starts out the first third just a little harsh on the palate, but also has distinct notes of creamy cedar, leather, hay, bitter espresso and chocolate. There is a small amount of spice on the tongue throughout the first third as well as a great amount of black pepper on the retrohale that seems to be getting stronger as the cigar progresses. I am also noticing a slight orange sweetness that comes and goes, but it is just not very strong as of yet. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent from the start, and while the burn is not razor sharp, it gives me no major issues. Smoke production is way above average, but in the strength department, it ends the first third shy of the medium mark.
The sweetness in the profile increases noticeably in the second third of the DOCO-EST MMIX-I, morphing from orange citrus to more of a cherry sweetness, along with notes of creamy cedar, cocoa, leather, grass and earth. The black pepper that was so prominent in the first third has gain strength, while the spice on the tongue has disappeared altogether. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, as does the smoke production, which continues to billow out of the foot of the cigar like a house on fire. The overall strength level is higher, but still falls short of the medium mark by the end of the second third, albeit just barely.
The final third of the Schrader Hispañiola Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I is much the same as the second third, although the black pepper on the retrohale begins to decrease as the cigar comes to an end, as does the cherry sweetness in the profile. The other flavors remain basically the same: creamy cedar, leather, coffee, hay, chocolate and earth. The overall construction also stays the course, with both an excellent burn and draw until the end of the cigar, but the smoke production takes a major hit around the start of the final third and never recovers. Strength-wise, the Schrader Hispañiola Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I does finally — barely — make it to the medium mark, but that is as far as it goes.
- The name is extremely confusing. For what it is worth, Schrader Hispañiola refers to the brand, Sparky is the nickname of the cigar, and DOCO-EST MMIX-I is the actual name of the vitola that was released.
- As mentioned above, this was supposed to be a yearly release, but so far, the Sparky DOCO-EST MMIX-I is the only cigar that has come out so far. There are rumors that the series will continue soon, but nothing concrete as of yet.
- According to correspondence with Pete Johnson, Havana Cellars is no longer the distributer of Schrader cigars.
- The dragon logo on the cigar band is very well done, and very cool in my opinion. It is also the exact logo that is used for the Schrader “Old Sparky” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon bottles.
- When asked about the dragon logo, Fred Schrader explained, “A fire-breathing, flame-throwing dragon with a crown. It’s a spoof, you know, it’s fun. Then the Latin writing around the edge is a mystery to itself, so if you can figure out what it says we’ll give you a bottle!”
- The cherry sweetness in the second and final thirds is nothing new, as I seem to taste it in a lot of cigars with Dominican tobacco, especially Fuente Fuente OpusX.
- This is easily one of the longest names I have ever seen on a cigar, although at 39 characters, it is still not even close to long enough to beat out the reigning champion out of all of the cigars I have seen, the San Lotano Oval Habano Limited Edition Pigskin Super Smoke Figurado XLVIII at 65 characters without spaces.
- The combination of the large bulb at the foot of the cigar and the very thin ring gauge at the cap, this salomon is extremely awkward to hold in your mouth without using a hand, as the whole balance is thrown off.
- Unlike some salomons with large bulbs I have smoked, the Schrader had an excellent draw from the tip of the bulb to the end of the cigar. The burn on both samples I smoked was a bit wavy until after the bulb, but became razor sharp after that.
- The coffins that these come in are extremely well done, and you can tell a lot of thought went into how they work to present the cigar when it is opened. I recently reviewed the Manacudo Estate Reserve No. II, whose coffin has the same look, although it is a poor imitation overall:
- The Sparky in the name of the cigar refers to Fred Schrader’s nickname, which is Old Sparky.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by the reviewer.
- Although there are multiple photos of these cigars with shaggy feet, every one of mine that I have seen, smoked or purchased all have had clean cut nipples on the feet.
- The final smoking time for both samples I smoked averaged just under two hours.
>I remember smoking a couple of these when they were first released, and finding them very underwhelming, with little to no nuance and a fairly straight forward profile. Thankfully, time has been good to this release, and while it is still not the most complex of blends, it is fairly enjoyable, as long as you have two hours or more to kill in order to give the vitola the time it needs to develop. The construction was fabulous overall, and it effortlessly put out dense, white smoke like a freight train. While I don't see them for sale very often, the Schrader Hispañiola Sparky Cigars DOCO-EST MMIX-I is worth picking up and trying at least once if you run across them.