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Revisiting Beefeater Gin (and the 24 too)!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 15, 2014

Beefeater LDG_0029_beefeater24With Spring finally arriving, I am continuing on my Spring series of Gin reviews to welcome in the warmer weather. This week I take a second look at two Beefeater Gins. Beefeater London Dry Gin and Beefeater 24.

Beefeater is currently produced in Kennington, a district of South East London, in the United Kingdom. The company has roots stretching back to 1820, when the Chelsea Distillery was constructed on Cale Street and served as the first home for Beefeater Gin. The founder of the company, James Burrough, was not born until 1835, and it was not until about 1876 that the Beefeater brand was created from gin produced at the Chelsea Distillery. Over time the brand has changed locations twice, first in 1908 to Hutton Road, and then in 1958 to its present location in Kennington.

The Beefeater Gin website lists 9 botanicals which are used to flavour its flagship spirit and they are juniper from the hills of Italy, Siberia and Macedonia; Seville orange peel; bitter almonds; ground orris root; coriander seeds; angelica (seeds and root); licorice; and lemon peel.

Here is the link to the full Review for Beefeater London Dry Gin:

Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin

“… Soft piny notes of juniper arise beside predominant scents of orange and lemon citrus. Because I know what other botanicals are used in the gin’s construction, I am able to discern some notes of coriander and very faints wisps of licorice …”

Beefeater 24  is advertised as being handcrafted with 12 botanicals which include grapefruit, bitter almond, orris root, Seville orange peel, rare Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green tea. This makes the Beefeater 24 Gin more complex in construction than the regular beefeater Gin which listed 9 ingredients. There are other differences as well, The new Beefeater 24 is bottled at a higher proof (45 % alcohol by volume) which to me seems most welcome, and all of the ingredients are apparently steeped in grain alcohol for 24 hours prior to a 7 hour distillation where the master distiller makes an artisan cut by hand from the heart of the distillation run.

Here is the Link to the full review for Beefeater 24:

Review: Beefeater 24 (London Dry Gin)

“… There is a ‘freshness’rising out of the glass and I liken it to the scent of an alpine forest on a warm spring day when the snow is melt just beginning. The aroma of evergreen boughs and juniper jumps out of the glass pushed ahead by a crisp citrus-like aroma…”

Please enjoy each review!

 

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Review: Lamb’s White Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 15, 2014

Lamb's WhiteIn my part of Canada, Lamb’s is one of the most popular rum brands, and I thought it was time that I should visit their popular white rum on my website. For those who do not know, Lamb’s is a Corby Brand who trace the rum’s history all the way to 1849 when Alfred Lamb who opened his wine and spirits business in London. His method of aging rum in his cellars under the Thames river was supposed to be one of the secrets behind the unexpectedly smooth taste of his rum brand. Of course the rum no longer is aged in Britain but it does maintain its Caribbean heritage as the blend is sourced from a variety of Caribbean rums which have been aged for a minimum of one year in oak casks. The final rum is filtered clear and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and sold as Lamb’s Genuine White Rum.

Grapefruit Daiquiri

Grapefruit Daiquiri

I recently received a sample of the Lamb’s White to review and you can find my full write-up by clicking the following excerpt link:

Review: Lamb’s White Rum

“… the breezes above the glass brought forwards the light scents and smells of a very mild butterscotch, green banana, a mild citrus zest, some light sandalwood spice, and a light cotton candy aroma. Allowing the glass to breathe resulted in the identification of a vague sort of ‘grassiness’ and the return of that impression of mustiness …”

My review includes a nice cocktail, the Grapefruit Daiquiri!

Please enjoy my review!

 

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Review: Tomatin Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 12, 2014

Tomatin Crusta SAM_1133The Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The Distillery was established in 1897. (For those who do not know, the term “established in 1897″ is a code term which represents an acknowledgement by the distillery that the company began to legally pay taxes on the spirits it produced in that year. When the Distillery actually began to produces spirits is not acknowledged.) Because of its location in the Monadhliath Mountains, Tomatin is one of the highest distilleries (elevation wise) in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. In 1985 as the Distillery was expanded and was at that time renamed, The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd.. The company now operates 12 stills, in a process which perhaps more closely resembles a large-scale industrial factory rather than a typical Single Malt Distillery. This is because the distillery has always been a large-scale producer of whisky for Scotland’s major blends. However, Tomatin has recently began to focus their efforts on also producing their own Single Malt Whisky as well as establishing their own brand identity.

The Tomatin Legacy is the companies introductory (some would say flagship) Single Malt, and is produced from a whisky aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks. This Single Malt Whisky carries no age statement, as the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to be a specific age statement. The use of virgin oak to age some of the whisky is a rather novel idea for a Scottish producer, but one which I heartily endorse.

Here is an excerpt (and link) to my full review of this surprisingly good whisky:

Review: Tomatin Legacy

“… The initial nose is very pleasant with a combination of clean oak spice, almond accents and hints of green grapes and green apples. There is also a meringue-like sweetness which rises up into the air with a gentle sweep of vanilla around it. As the glass breathes the oak spices gains momentum and I soon also receive impressions of willow trees and aspen with a touch of piny goodness in the mix somewhere as well. I seem to also sense springtime aromas of fresh sweet grass, and some floral lemon blossoms …”

As you can see from my photo to the left, I included a wonderful cocktail suggestion with the review, the Single Malt Crusta.

Please enjoy the review and the stunning cocktail!

Posted in Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Forty Creek Evolution!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 10, 2014

Forty Creek Evolution is the eighth of the yearly special Limited Edition Releases from Forty Creek Whisky, and there will be only 9,000 bottles produced! Of course, once again Forty Creek is offering (for a limited time) Canadian Whisky lovers an opportunity to reserve their own bottle number of Forty Creek Evolution. Customers can reserve any number between 0003 and 9000. The Reservations are being offered between May 21st and June 16th, 2014, and you can choose a number that has special significance for you. Maybe it is a special birthday, an anniversary of significance, or perhaps something whimsical like the date that your favourite hockey team last won the Stanley Cup, it is really completely up to you!

Reservations open at noon on Wednesday, May 21 at 12:00 p.m. EST, and the numbers are reserved on a first come, first serve basis. More information about the Reservation process can be found using this link:

http://www.fortycreekwhisky.com/whatsnew.html

You may reserve more than one bottle. However, due to provincial and federal regulations Forty Creek cannot ship whisky bottles. They must be purchased and picked up at the distillery in Grimsby, Ontario after the whisky is released later in the fall. (The whisky release weekend is scheduled for Saturday, September, 27th and Sunday, September 28th, 2014.)

johnhallHere are some notes on Forty Creek 2014 Evolution Limited Release from John K. Hall, Whisky Maker:

“Every year I look forward to introducing a new limited edition Forty Creek taste expression. This year is no exception. I am so proud to introduce Forty Creek Evolution to you and our family of Forty Creek Whiskies.

Forty Creek Evolution is my 8th limited release. Each of my limited whiskies has a taste of its own, yet remains characteristically true to the Forty Creek family. The limited releases have provided me with a canvas to grow as a whisky maker. This year’s release is an evolution of not just the whiskies that I have made but as I have evolved as a whisky maker.

I am very excited to share Forty Creek 2014 Evolution with you as it offers a glimpse into this journey. After all, that is what whisky making and whisky tasting is all about. It is a journey of discovery and evolution.

Most of the whiskies in this bottle began their journey 12 years ago. Initially, these whiskies were aged in American White Oak for 3 years. I then selected the barrels and re-distilled the aged whiskies in my copper pot still to further concentrate their wonderful flavours. This whisky was then re-barreled into French Oak casks that had previously held my Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for an additional 9 years! Finally, I introduced some of my favourite personally held barrels to the mix for balancing.

Evolution starts with fig, dates, anise, blackberry, black currants and bell peppers and then evolves into deep forest notes, cinnamon spice flares, cloves, nutmeg, chestnut and tobacco. There are wonderful hints of vanilla, sweet clover and butter, evolving milk chocolate, soft roasted oak, peach and apricot. Then comes a comfortable earthiness to this whisky that just constantly evolves. So, I have appropriately called it Evolution.

This whisky’s journey will become very clear to you as you discover the ever evolving complexities, subtleties, aromas, tastes and flavours that Evolution has to offer. “

PS: Once I have a bottle shot, I promise I will share it with everyone!

Cheers!

 

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

London No. 1 Original Blue Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 9, 2014

London No. 1 Original Blue Gin is a product of Gonzalas Byass who are a Spanish wine/cellars company which also produces a variety of distilled spirits including brandy, anisette, botanical vodka and of course gin. Their gin is triple distilled (from English grain in London, England) on a traditional pot still in small batches by Master Distiller, Charles Maxwell. According to the London No. 1 website the gin is distilled with 12 key botanicals which include: Juniper from Croatia; Angelica root and Savory from France; Coriander from Morocco; Cassia bark from China, Liquorice from Turkey, Cinnamon from Ceylon, Almond from Greece; and Lemon peel, Orange peel, Lily root and Bergamot from Italy.

Big Blue Sexy

Big Blue Sexy

The product was first test marketed in Spain, and is now being launched in limited quantities internationally. It is bottled at 47 % alcohol by volume ensuring a more concentrated flavour than more traditional distilled spirits which are bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

I was given a bottle for review by Woodman Wines and Spirits Inc. who have informed me that this product is now available again in limited quantities in Ontario, Canada. (I have seen it on the shelves here in Alberta as well.)

You may read my review by Clicking on the following excerpt.

Review: London No. 1 Original Blue Gin

“… The aroma from the glass is intensely floral. It has a sharp quality which similar to freshly bloomed lilacs. The more familiar gin aromas of earthy juniper, spicy cardamom, lemon peel and orange citrus lie somewhat behind that floral intensity …”

I included a classic cocktail recipe, The Pegu Club Cocktail, with this review, as well as a recipe of my own, Big Blue Sexy.

Please enjoy the review and of course my included recipes, Cheers!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Fresh Squeezed Fruit and the Home Bartender

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 6, 2014

The Presbyterian (a fine example of a tall soda filled cocktail)

The Presbyterian (a fine example of a tall soda filled cocktail)

In the last four years, I have constructed a lot of cocktails. My first attempts were concoctions where I (like most cocktail newbies) used soda (in the form of cola, 7-up and ginger-ale) as my main mixing ingredient. These drinks were long and tall, easy to make, and (the other cocktail geeks are going to hate me for admitting it) they are usually quite tasty and refreshing.

I still mix tall soda filled drinks; but if you read my cocktail menu you will find that these tall drinks no longer dominate my recipe section. Instead of lots of soda, I am now more likely to choose fresh squeezed fruit juice as the base for my cocktail constructions.

These fresh fruit juices used to intimidate me; now, I cannot really do without them. When I squeeze the juice from a lemon or lime and begin to mix my cocktail, I begin to feel like I am a real bartender, and when I mix this style of bar drink for my friends they actually think I am a cocktail guru!

Sometimes my friends actually seem mesmerized when I grab a lime, squeeze it on my juicer, strain it into my shaker, add some sugar syrup and Vodka and serve them a simple Vodka Daiquiri. Of course, I am no guru; my skills are rather limited. However, I have found that after a bit of practice I can now make a tasty short cocktail. And you can too., all you need is a little confidence, and to follow some simple guidelines.

The first guideline I follow when I make juice based cocktail is that I let the fresh squeezed fruit, not the alcohol spirit control the cocktail. Some fruits, like lemons and limes are very tart and/or sour, and they require the addition of a sweetener (like sugar) to bring them into balance. Other fruits, like oranges and pineapples are already sweet, and they require little, if any sweetener. Then there are the in between fruits like grapefruit which require some sweetness added, but not nearly as much as what the sour lemons and limes do. Over time I have developed a few simple ratios that work as good starting points for me. These ratios are as follows:

  • Sour fruits (lemons and limes) need 2 parts of sugar syrup to 3 parts juice.
  • Intermediate fruits (raspberries and grapefruit) need 1 part sugar syrup to 2 parts juice.
  • Sweet fruits (oranges and pineapple) require 1 part sugar syrup to 4 parts juice.

These ratios are not (of course) fixed in stone, they serve as guidelines. My suggestion is to start here, and then tweak the ratios based upon your preference for sweetness, and for the actual mixing spirit you are using.

(Note: I always use a 1:1 ration of sugar to water when I make my sugar syrup. If you use  a different ratio you should adjust the ratios above accordingly.)

Of course we need to know how much base spirit to add to make a good cocktail, and for this I have a few guideline ratios as well:

  • No more than 3 parts of a 80 proof alcohol spirit to 2 parts fresh juice.
  • Use less base spirit if it is an overproof spirit

If I choose to add a sweet liqueur like Curacao for added flavour:

  • One part liqueur to two parts fruit juice
  • Decrease the sugar by at least half the amount of sweet liqueur used.

Basically I am saying that if I add 1 ounce of a sweet liqueur to a cocktail recipe then I must decrease the sugar syrup amount by at least 1/2 ounce. Again I may have to adjust the sugar syrup in the recipe after the first try; but if I follow my guidelines I will always be close.

Using those simple ratios as my guidelines I can construct all manner of cocktails, and they almost always turn out great!

Let me step you through a likely scenario where the amount and the type of fruit I have on hand controls the cocktail which I build.

Lets say, I happen to have five friends over, and in my fridge I only have one orange, one lemon, and one lime, and on my bar is an open bottle of Herencia de Plata Reposado Tequila. Since I want each of us to enjoy the same cocktail, I am going to need to use all of the fruit. In this scenario, I would begin by using my juicer to squeeze out each fruit.

Let us pretend that I squeezed the lemon and lime juice into a measuring cup, and I ended up with about 100 ml (65 ml of lemon and 35 ml of lime) of juice. Easy enough, I add 65 ml of simple syrup into a convenient container with the fresh lemon and lime juice and I let that stand. Next I squeeze out the orange, and let’s say I get 100 ml of juice this time as well. Again, that’s pretty easy, I add the orange juice to my reserved container with the sweetened lemon and lime, and then add 25 ml of simple syrup. Now, the total amount of fresh juice I have in the container is about 200 ml, and the total sugar syrup is 90 ml.

SAM_0803  HereticWe can now add the alcohol spirit (in this case Herencia Reposado Tequila). In this case I keep my measurements simple and add 300 ml of tequila. Since I already used orange juice, I will leave my orange liqueur (triple sec) out of the recipe. This gives me about 600 ml of cocktail liquid to divide between my five friends and me. Easy enough I grab my cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. I stir the reserve container which holds my cocktail base and add just under 100 ml of the liquid into my shaker. I give everything a good shake and strain into a cocktail glass and then repeat for each guest.

When I finish all six of us have a nice fruity tequila cocktail to enjoy on my back deck. Since some of my friends still like those tall soda filled drinks, so I open a bottle of soda (Q-Soda in this case), and I let them to add a bit of soda to the cocktail if they desire. (Some of my friends may even add a bit of ice, and we all ejoy a great cocktail on a hot lazy Sunday afternoon. (See picture to the right.)

Keeping your bar drink simple is at the heart of the process of making a good cocktail. All you really need is fresh fruit, simple syrup, and a quality mixing spirit. The fresher the fruit, the better the final cocktail.

Here is the simplified recipe of the cocktail I just made:

2 oz Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz orange juice
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1/4 oz Lime juice
7/8 oz simple syrup
ice
soda (optional)

Add the Ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
add a splash of soda (optional)
Garnish with a slice of fruit

As you can see the cocktail looks delicious. All that left now is to give it a name.

Any suggestions …

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Review: Jack Daniel’s (Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 4, 2014

JD No 7Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery (currently owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation). Interestingly enough, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is located in Moore County which has remained dry dating back to the passing of the state’s prohibition laws in the early 20th century. Even though prohibition ended federally in 1933 when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, the Tennessee State prohibition laws have remained in effect; and hence, all counties in the state remained dry after prohibition ended. Counties may individually repeal the local state law by passing a “local option” referendum; however, Moore County has not done so. This has given rise to the curious situation in which the county which produces the best-selling American Whiskey in the world does not allow this whiskey to be sold in the stores or the restaurants within its own boundaries.

Lynchburg Slammer

Lynchburg Slammer

Jack Daniels Old No. 7 is produced in much the same manner as bourbon, from a corn heavy mash and aged in new charred white oak barrels. However, the Jack Daniel’s distillery has always resisted the use of the bourbon classification, and instead prefers to label their spirit as Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.

You may read my full review of the World’s best-selling American Whiskey by clicking on the following review excerpt:

Review: Jack Daniel’s (Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey)

“… The initial nose was full of corn syrup, the spiciness of wood sap, and a very apparent dankness which reminded me of damp autumn leaves. The wood sap reminded me of both fresh-cut oak and cedar logs, and some vanilla accents seemed to be wrapped up in the corn and the wood spices. There was also an indistinct a clay-like earthiness in the breezes above the glass with perhaps a touch of cigarette smoke as well …”

I included a nice recipe for your enjoyment at the conclusion of the review, the Lynchburg Slammer. Please enjoy the review and the suggested cocktail, Cheers!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Polo Club America Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 29, 2014

SAM_1122 Polo Cara

Polo Club American Dry Gin and my Cara Cara Gin Cocktail

Polo Club American Dry Gin is a product of Minhas Micro Distillery located in Munroe, Wisconsin. According to the press information provided to me by MCBSW Sales (agents for Polo Club in Alberta), their American Dry Gin is an artisan spirit crafted in small batches from “ultra clean neutral grain spirit” and steeped with botanicals which include juniper, lemon peel, coriander, and licorice. The neutral grain spirit is apparently distilled ten times using a patent pending process (US Patent Application Number 13/843036) on a copper pot still.

Despite the small batch process, and the multiple distillations of the neutral grain spirit; the Polo Club American Dry Gin is very affordable in my market. As the advertising sheets I saw claim,

“The botanicals are steeped, but the price is not steep.”

You may read my take on this relatively new American Dry Gin by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Polo Club America Dry Gin

“… As I nosed the glass, an assertive juniper aroma (which reminded me of spruce boughs) climbed up into the breezes accompanied by lightly sweet zesty scents of lemon and lime citrus. I also detected a very light pungent spiciness similar to ginger and cardamom which lay somewhat hidden in between more assertive juniper and citrus. As I spent time nosing the glass, this spiciness increased slowly coming out of the shadows and becoming the dominant characteristic of the nose …”

As you can see from my picture to the left, I included a recipe suggestion in my review, the Cara Cara Gin Cocktail. Perhaps if I continue to indulge in a few more gin cocktails, that stubborn winter will leave us and the warm Spring we were promised will finally arrive.

Cheers everyone!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Porto Morretes (Ouro) Cachaca

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 25, 2014

cachaca_premiumLast fall a good friend of mine visited Brazil. I had asked him before the trip if he could find me a bottle of the Brazilian rum known as Cachaca (pronounced Ka sha sha). I was pleased when he returned just prior to Christmas with two small (170 ml) bottles of Port Morretes, the Prata (silver) and the Ouro (3-year-old premium).

In order to learn a little about the Porto Morrets Cachaca, I visited their website and with the help of Google Translate managed to decipher a bit about each spirit. The Porto Morretes Cachaça Ouro is (as near as I can tell from reading the Portuguese website) produced in the same manner as the previously reviewed Porto Morretes Prata Cachca; however rather than resting in a stainless steel tank, the spirit is aged for three years in oak barrels. This gives rise to new flavours drawn from the oak, and theoretically at least implies a smoother more well-rounded spirit.

SAM_1018 Decicio

Cachaca Delícia

You may read my full review by clicking the following excerpt link:

Review: Porto Morretes (Ouro) Cachaca

“… As I let the glass sit and breathe I noticed some nice oak spices building with soft green pepper and ginger impressions entering the breezes above the glass followed by lime citrus and a very soft chocolate caramel. A sweep of vanilla wafts into the air next as well with some peppermint and scattered tea leaves. I can tell that I am going to like this …”

Included at the end of the review is a nice sipping cocktail I devised for the Porto Morretes Ouro. I call it, Cachaca Delícia. This recipe allows the character of the aged Cachaca to meld into the sweeter flavour of Grand Marnier. The combination is simply wonderful!

Please enjoy my latest review as well as the delicious cocktail.

 

Posted in Aged Cachaca, Cachaca | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 20, 2014

Booker's SAM_1112Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, and the previously reviewed Baker’s, Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado. The Booker’s Bourbon was named for Booker Noe, who in 1992 began to produce the Booker’s whiskey bottled “straight-from-the-barrel, uncut and unfiltered”.

Apparently, the Booker’s whiskey was originally produced in extremely limited quantities and reserved as special holiday gifts for his friends and family. This high strength ‘holiday bourbon’ was so popular with those who received it that the Beam company decided to produce it as a special bottling beginning in 1992.  Interestingly, Booker’s Bourbon does not carry a consistent age statement from batch to batch as barrels are chosen for character and flavour rather than for being a specific age. For that reason the age of a particular bottle can vary between 6 to 8 years old. Because the whiskey is bottled straight from the barrel the bottling strength can also vary (according to the website) between 59.5 % to 64.55 % per batch.

sam_1118-the-bestiary

The Beastiary

(The Beam Global team must be aware of my fondness for over-strength whiskey because my sample bottle checks in at the full 64.55%.)

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

“… As I enjoyed the scents and smells which the whiskey brought forward, I was treated to even more richness as indications of dry fruit revealed themselves above the glass along with hints of treacle and pan roasted walnuts. There were also delightful aromas of leather chairs and rich pipe tobacco meandering into the breezes with undertones of smoky charcoal and dabbles of licorice mixed in. What I sense only a little of, is any undo astringency from the whopping 64.55 % alcohol within the glass. Maybe I have a bottle from a particularly outstanding batch; but air above my glass represents a masterpiece of whiskey goodness …”

My cocktail suggestion at the end of my review, The Beastiary, combines the goodness and savagery of Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon with a whopping dose of bitters in the tradition of the Alabazam Cocktail.

Please enjoy my both review and my cocktail which is not for the meek of heart. Happy Easter!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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