Since its founding in 1996, Alec Bradley Cigar Co. has partnered with manufacturers throughout Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic to craft its now-vast portfolio of premium cigars. While these manufacturers vary, they have long boiled down to three families/entities: Plasencia (Honduras and Nicaragua), Kelner (Dominican Republic), and Endemano (Honduras). In 2019, the company added a fourth—Fuego—announcing the value-priced Project 40 as coming out of Jesus Fuego’s J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Project 40 not only comes out of a new factory, but features an atypical blend and design for Alec Bradley, quickly standing out amongst the company’s prior releases. The concept is said to be the brainchild of company founder, Alan Rubin, modeled after a term used throughout multiple industries, describing how a given product can positively impact the end-user’s mind and body.
Project 40 05.50 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Colorado
- Binder: Brazilian Habano
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: J. Fuego Cigar Co. de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ x 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $5.25 (MSRP)
Project 40 is rolled in four sizes, with prices set at a surprisingly affordable range of $5.25 to $5.99. The cigars make use of primarily Nicaraguan leaves, including an all-Nicaraguan filler and a reddish-hued Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper; these leaves are joined by a Brazilian Habano binder.
- 05.50: 5″ x 50 | $5.25
- 06.52: 6″ x 52 | $5.50
- 07.50: 7″ x 50 | $5.99
- 06.60: 6″ x 60 | $5.99
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The Alec Bradley Project 40 05.50 is sized at, as the name implies, 5″ x 50, being the smallest and most affordable cigar in the Project 40 lineup. In terms of packaging, I’m completely on board here. While it’s certainly true that AB’s conventional cigar designs have a nice level of class—a look that is essentially prototypical of premium cigars themselves—I sometimes find myself lost when trying to navigate from one cigar to the next. This is not the case with Project 40, boasting a bright, bold, clean layout that feels in-touch with today’s flat design practices.
The cigar itself is a robusto, though somehow feels smaller than the stats suggest (my mistake, no doubt). From the outset, the construction is about what you’d expect from the price point. There is a sloppily applied triple cap, loose wrapper seams, and a few subtle green water splotches. The wrapper has a pale-brown leather look to it, having the slightest amount of tooth, an assortment of medium and fine veins, and bumps that protrude from the binder beneath. The bunch is medium and doesn’t have the most consistent feel from head to toe, though this is admittedly only if I’m being overly picky.
The wrapper has a faint aroma, with nuances of musk and peanut shells. On the foot there are added notes of green hay, fermenting tobacco, and faint notes of clean cedar. The pre-light draw is on the firm side (8.5/10, if 5/10 is dead-medium), with distant flavors of paper, hay, and black tea.
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Sweet cedar, sugar cookies, and sage—Project 40 doesn’t light up with a kick but is instead sweet and delicate, enough so that I was mistakenly underwhelmed during my first couple of samples. But when you start the cigar knowing to look for nuance and sweetness, it’s a very rewarding beginning. As mentioned, sage is about as close as you’ll come to anything in the spice realm. This makes for fully retrohalable draws, which should be taken full advantage of if you plan on eking out the full gamut of the cigar’s mild-natured profile.
Project 40 is sweet and soothing, clocking in at mild in strength, medium in flavor, and just under medium in body. Luckily, the draw isn’t as concerning as the pre-light test indicated; it’s still firm, but it’s actually a nice resistance, especially when combined with the medium to medium-plus amounts of smoke produced with each draw. In terms of mouthfeel, it’s sweet and mouthwatering, hitting these regions of the palate primarily and being backed by a touch of salt and, even further in the background (especially in the cigar’s final minutes), bitterness.
Backing up a bit, the cedar/cookie/sage combination is followed by cream cheese frosting and butterscotch (being a bit more butter than scotch). And the cut tobacco against the tongue is sweet as well; thankfully, this is a subtle sensation, as I wouldn’t want the experience to wander into cloying territory. The addition of lemon rind and creamy medium-roast coffee help to add complexity as the cigar develops.
As the robusto crosses the halfway point it begins to heat up, causing newfound flavors of red pepper and nutmeg. While the nutmeg fits the mold and helps to round out the profile, I found the pepper to be at odds with the congruent concoction shown thus far. Slowing the pace seems to right the ship, with the lemon rind evolving to become lemon cake and a very approachable cream cheese-stuffed pastries lingering through the finish. The sweetness eventually fades a bit, giving way to buttered toast and anise.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Absolutely. It’s clean, it’s refreshing, it’s creamy and sweet, and ridiculously affordable for what it brings to the table. This is a no-brainer.
- The four sizes are named for their dimensions—05.50 (5″ x 50), 06.52 (6″ x 52), etc.
- Alan Rubin’s mantra for Alec Bradley Project 40 is “Take control of your happiness.”
- Project 40 carries the sub-band “Experimental Series,” also seen on the box, implying more cigars of this nature are to follow.
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Mild
- Body: Mild / Medium
- Sugar cookies
- Medium-roast coffee
- Cream cheese frosting
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Tuaca liqueur | Lactose pale ale | Latte
- Purchase Recommendation: Stock up—box(s)
- Extremely attractive price point
- Easily approachable, mouthwatering, creamy sweetness
- Clean and easygoing, yet flavorful
- Draw can be on firm side
- Need to pace yourself to keep from getting hot