Cigar Ratings & Reviews

CA Review Panel: Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro Robusto Cigar Review (Video)

Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro – The Back Story

When Alan Rubin unveiled the original Project 40 last year, he said, “Project 40 is not just a line, but a concept representative of the search to find a deeper understanding as to why cigars have a positive cognitive impact on the mind and body.”

While we won’t dive into why cigars make us feel relaxed, let’s just say that cigars do a lot of high fiving with the reward center of our brain. Project 40 is Alec Bradley’s way of trying to maximize the feeling. Speaking of rewarding, Gary thought the first go of Project 40 to be quite good last year in his #nowsmoking review.

For their sophomore attempt at serenity with Project 40 Maduro, Alan Rubin and the blending team at Alec Bradley chose a sultry Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper above a Brazilian Habano Binder, and a potent Nicaraguan core. Looks delicious in print, but before we review the cigar, let’s answer the obvious question.

What exactly is a Project 40?

The cigar gets its name from an initiative that promotes collective happiness and mental well-being – traits that you’ll often find within the walls of any smoking lounge. A parallel that Alan keenly drew when he said, “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.”

With the original being a 93-rated hit, the AB family has no doubt added some extra TLC in the process in hopes of recreating the magic. And indeed, they’ve once again tapped Jesus Fuego’s team in Nicaragua with the important task of crafting the cigars.

But we’ve come here to tackle the most important question: Is Project 40’s second chapter worth the hype?
Here, we offer our thoughts on what we experienced, what we liked or didn’t, and to whom we think the cigar is best suited.

Project 40 Maduro Lineup

AB’s Project 40 Maduro is presented in boxes of 24 across three sizes:

Alec Bradley Project 40 Maduro Cigar Review – Robusto

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5” x 50)Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Jared’s Tasting Notes…

Construction: Looks like milk chocolate. Additionally, it’s toothy, beautifully rolled and triple capped.
Draw: Slightly firm but no obstructions.
Pre-light flavor: Dark chocolate, coffee, and a few spices.
Toasting & Light: Wood and a mineral-like flavor.
Base flavors: Coffee, cocoa, earth, wood, and citrus.
Retrohale: Sweet, with an added boost of all the flavors.
Aroma: Warm, sweet, and savory.
Burn & Ash Quality: Perfect burn and solid ash across several samples.


Project 40 Maduro looks like a chocolate bar and has the flavor to match. I discovered some dark cocoa, coffee and spices on the pre-light. The flavors soon transitioned to a blast of pepper with wood, coffee, and leather.

Once the smoke opens up – about a half inch of ash inward – coffee, cocoa, earth, and wood become the most prominent flavors and stick around through the end. All with a subtle complexity with regards to body and pepper intensity. Now…Pullo and I weren’t in agreement about this (you’ll see that in the video), but I understand why he didn’t notice it. There isn’t exactly a bright neon sign telling you it’s there. And to be honest, it could just be my palate, too. We’re all different. Bottom line: if you prefer a complex smoke, there’s some to be found. If you like to cruise at one speed, it won’t go off course enough to turn you off.

The middle is all about citrus. You either taste it directly, or just notice it in a tangy undertone to the rest of the flavors. The cocoa there is less sweet – more like baking chocolate – with a balancing sweetness from the woody flavors in the background.

Wrap up: Pullo nailed it when he said that this is a great cigar for a first time Maduro. It’s not too strong, has plenty of sweetness, and just enough spice that it’ll prep your palate for the stronger stuff. Overall, a big thumbs up from me.

John’s Tasting Notes…

Construction: Firm to the squeeze, the cigar sports a toothy but not-so-oily chocolate brown Maduro.
Draw: Decent smoke output, in spite of some noticeable resistance in the draw.
Pre-light flavor: The aroma off the body is great – the dark, sweet and intense smell of fermentation. The taste is woody, along with the taste of the newton/cookie part of a fig newton.
Toasting & Light: Wood, pepper and earth.
Base flavors: Dark chocolate, pepper, earth and cedar.
Retrohale: More cedar, plus sweet spice – almost licorice-y. Later retrohales are a little more smooth, a little sweeter, with a hint of vanilla.
Aroma: Tart-sweet, and a mix of wood and leather.
Burn & Ash Quality: Mostly even burn, with a bone-white ash.


Not a first, but this stick is a major change of pace for Alec Bradley: it’s an actual Maduro cigar, a rarity in their current lineup – so this San Andres is a welcome addition.

Project 40’s flavors focus on earth, wood and pepper; eventually a gritty, dark chocolate sweetness develops. The best part of the cigar is just past half, when a taste of coffee gives the profile a flash of brilliance. It’s all medium bodied, I’d say. The aroma is a really big part of the story here, both the prelight smell off the barrel and the scent as you smoke it.

In sum, Project 40 Maduro is more about price point than it is about complexity – if you want that, step up to Prensado or Black Market (again, AB doesn’t do a lot of Maduros). That aside, if you like San Andres Maduro, this is the cigar for you. And if you’re still feeling your way through Maduros, trying to get a taste for each (and a line on what you like best) – then consider this a good exposure to San Andres. At $5+ a stick, it’s cheap and easy research.

Gary’s Tasting Notes…

Construction: Seamlessly rolled, the dark, milk-chocolate-colored wrapper has a lustrous patina and caps a well-packed core blend for a firm feel. And if I didn’t know better, the cigar feels like it’s a bit wider than a 50-ring.
Draw: Just right. The triple seam cap cut cleanly offering an easy, yet just slightly firm pull.
Pre-light flavor: The initial draws were somewhat salty with a mix of leather and sweet tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Woodsy and spicy with a hint of sweetness.
Base flavors: A bit earthy and woodsy with well-balanced core notes of nutmeg, caramel, and baking spice, on a light, peppery finish.
Retrohale: Lightly peppery.
Aroma: Sweet ‘n spicy.
Burn & Ash Quality: Mostly even, revealing firm, greyish ashes.


I was really impressed with the original Alec Bradley Project 40 in the Nicaraguan wrapper, which made me eager to try the Maduro version. Having smoked a couple of these at this point, the jury is still out. But one is not better than the other, just different. I’ve always loved the sweetness that comes from prime San Andrés Maduro wrapper; and yet, I remember the former blend being a little sweeter. That aside, this vitola offered enough sweet spice to keep me happy. In fact, one of the early notes from my pre-video Maduro sample reads: “sweet, sweet, sweet!”

I also liked the chewiness this Robusto offered. The flavors were all well-balanced, and combined with the dense smoke, offered a very “full” mouthfeel. Nutmeg and baking spice prevailed for a good portion of the cigar along with a smack of light pepper on the finish.

It’s not until the mid and latter stages that more flavors were a bit punchier and revealed a mix of nuttiness, tartness, bittersweet chocolate and burnt coffee.

Suffice it to say. . . I think Alec Bradley intended to make Project 40 Maduro fuller in flavor than the original. If so, they succeeded and kudos to Señor Fuego. Besides, it seems natural to do a Maduro, as most brands do. So, now Maduro smokers will get their wish, and I think they’ll be very pleased. They also kept the price reasonable. Plus, this cigar has enough going on to be enjoyed as both an everyday fave and an after-dinner constitutional.