For decades, there is an ongoing debate in medical circles about the how the effects of nature verses nurture manifest themselves in each person’s personality and life. In May 2019, Alec Bradley released a brand new cigar named Project 40 that was created with the intention of gaining “a deeper understanding as to why cigars have a positive cognitive impact on the mind and body.”
According to Alan Rubin, founder of Alec Bradley, the name of Project 40 comes from the idea that a person’s happiness can be broken down into three different categories: 50 percent comes from genetics and 10 percent is based on circumstance, while the remaining 40 percent is said to be controlled by that person’s thinking process.
“Project 40 is a generally accepted concept in multiple industries with the end goal to find how a service or product can have a positive impact on the mind and body,” said Rubin in a press release talking about the original Project 40 line. “Since cigars bring people together, cause for relaxation and create positive experiences, I asked myself why this concept should not be applied to premium cigars. This was my inspiration for Alec Bradley Project 40,” he added.
In October 2020, Alec Bradley announced it would be releasing a maduro version of the Project 40, albeit with only three vitolas instead of four. Like the original release, the new cigar incorporates a Brazilian habano binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, but the Nicaraguan wrapper is replaced by a Mexican San Andrés wrapper for the newest version.
There are currently three different vitolas in the Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro lineup:
- Project 40 Maduro 05.50 (5 x 50) — $5.75 (Box of 24, $138)
- Project 40 Maduro 06.52 (6 x 52) — $6.25 (Box of 24, $150)
- Project 40 Maduro 06.60 (6 x 60) — $6.50 (Box of 25, $156)
The blend is being produced at the J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua factory in Estelí and started shipping to retailers on Nov. 26, 2020.
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro 05.50
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Brazil (Habano)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $5.75 (Box of 24, $138)
- Release Date: Nov. 26, 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro features a rustic milk chocolate brown wrapper that is extremely sandpaper rough to the touch and exhibits a bit of oil. In addition, there are a couple of prominent veins present and the cigar is nicely spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper and foot is a combination of cherry sweetness, earth, cedar, leather, barnyard and hay while the cold draw brings flavors of strong cedar, gritty earth, espresso beans, sourdough bread and a small amount of black pepper.
The Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro starts out with a dominant combination of dark chocolate and cedar, interspersed notes of hay, leather, bread, freshly brewed espresso and slight cinnamon. There is some slight vanilla sweetness on the retrohale as well as a bit of black pepper, but neither are really strong enough to impact the profile in any major way as of yet. In terms of construction, both the draw and the burn are excellent from the first puff, but the smoke production is a bit thinner than I am used to off of the foot. Strength-wise, the Alec Bradley begins fairly mild, but increases enough to make it closer to medium than mild by the end of the first third.
While the cedar and dark chocolate combination easily continues to dominate the profile during the second third of the Project 40 Maduro, a bit more vanilla sweetness becomes noticeable on the retrohale, as well as slightly more black pepper. Additional flavors of coffee beans, popcorn, creamy leather, licorice, hay and slight vegetal flit in and out, along with a small remaining amount of spice on my tongue. Smoke production a bit thinner than I would like, but the burn continues to give me no issues whatsoever and the draw remains excellent. The overall strength has increased as well, hitting a point just under the medium mark by the time the second third comes to an end.
Although the main flavors of cedar and dark chocolate have no problems remaining on top during the final third of the Alec Bradley, the profile continues to be enjoyable, due in part to the fact that there is slightly more vanilla sweetness on the retrohale as well as slightly less black pepper. Secondary notes of freshly roasted coffee beans, hay, leather, cocoa nibs, toasted bread, generic nuts and black licorice are also present at various points, but none come close to being strong enough to take over the dominant spot at any point. In addition, both the spice on my tongue and slight black pepper on the retrohale from the previous two thirds remains, although both have diminished from their high points around the halfway point of the second third. Construction-wise, the draw continues along its excellent path while the burn is razor sharp, and the overall strength finally crosses the medium mark—although it never threatens to go further than that—by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch remaining.
- I was a little bit shocked at the difference between the aroma and the cold draw: the former features a very distinct dark cherry sweetness, while the latter is full of cedar woodiness and very little overt sweetness of any sort.
- It is interesting to me that although the three sizes being produced in this version are the same as the original version—the 5 x 50, the 6 x 52 and the 6 x 60—the former two vitolas are packaged in boxes of 24 and the latter is packaged in boxes of 25, while all four of the Project 40 cigars are sold in boxes of 20.
- Instead of being named after a singular person, Alec Bradley’s company is actually a combination of owner Alan Rubin’s two children’s first names, both of whom are now working for the company.
- Smoke production is thin and light, although still on the bottom end of what I would consider in a normal range.
- Alec Bradley is an advertiser on halfwheel.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel, although the sample photographed for the main photograph above was sent by Alec Bradley.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged a relatively quick one hour and 19 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro 05.50, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, and JR Cigars all have them in stock.
I am always a bit leery of new blends that do nothing more than change out a wrapper on an existing cigar in order to make a different creation, and that feeling was only accentuated by the fact that I really enjoyed the Project 40 quite a bit. What I found was a profile that was not nearly as sweet nor as complex as its predecessor, but one that was still quite enjoyable in a number of ways. That includes a dominant dark chocolate and cedar combination in the profile as well as the construction, which was absolutely fantastic with a close to perfect draw and a burn line that very rarely wavered from a straight line on each of the three samples I smoked. In the end, while I did not like the Project 40 Maduro as much as the original release, Alec Bradley has done a great job of giving fans two distinct flavor profiles to choose from, both of which carry a very attractive price point.