Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve, 46%, Single Malt

I always get a frisson of excitement entering a bar & finding some rare or discontinued whiskey on the shelves.

It’s a chance to sample & taste a fleeting timepiece of the larger whiskeysphere with ever changing bottles on offer.

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Keenan’s c/othewhiskeynut

Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry – a popular dining spot on the banks of the mighty River Shannon just inside the County Roscommon border – happened to be the bar.

Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve happened to be the whiskey.

The nose was suitably rich, filled with dark fruitiness & slightly drying woody tannins.

A gorgeously smooth entry developed with sweet yet deep & dark fruity notes which gently morphed into a soft dry spiciness followed by wonderfully woody drying tannins & oaky opulence.

The dark sweetness, gentle spice & dry tannins complemented each other as they slowly ebbed away on the palate to my great satisfaction.

A fabulous find in a delightfully enjoyable establishment.

Sláinte

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Natterjack Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

I first started hearing about Natterjack Whiskey about 2 years ago.

Such are the lead in times to get a brand to market – let alone building a distillery in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford.

Keen to try out this newcomer to Irish Whiskey – but conscious I’d break the bank buying every bottle – a bar was found.

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P Mac’s in Dublin c/othewhiskeynut

P Mac’s in Dublin’s city centre suited my needs perfectly.

A tempting stock of whiskey had me wavering – but a short window of opportunity between 2 appointments meant I only had time to kiss the toad!

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Have you #kissedthetoad yet? c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve enjoyed the marketing behind this brand.

It’s fresh, it’s novel and it’s exciting.

The Natterjack toad motif on the bottle is also eye catching – but what of the liquid inside?

A distinctively ‘sweet & sour’ mix on the nose.

It’s a note new to Irish Whiskey – but one I’ve encountered before – mainly on young corn whiskeys from America. That is whiskey containing at least 80% corn in the mash bill – according to US rules.

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The bold back. c/othewhiskeynut

As Natterjack is an Irish Whiskey – US rules don’t apply – and it would be called a blend here.

It’s an easy going smooth whiskey on tasting. The ‘sweet & sour’ is less prominent – but still there – before a softly growing spiciness dries out the silky barley.

The peppery spice attractively lingers on the palate at the finish.

It’s definitely a new flavour profile for Irish Whiskey.

Natterjack is bold, innovative & enticing.

Despite not fully setting my tastebuds alight – I wholeheartedly welcome this exciting new entrant into the growing market.

I look forward to the future development of this brand – along with the distillery in Kilmacthomas – and wish the Natterjack success!

Sláinte

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Paddy Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

There’s been a lot of interest in the new design for Paddy’s Irish Whiskey.

Sazerac have recently taken ownership of the brand from Pernod Ricard – it is still made in the New Midleton Distillery in Ireland – and are injecting some money & life into the marketing & labeling of this historic whiskey.

Paddy's
The new Paddy c/otwitter

Die hard fans are not exactly enamoured by the rebrand.

The additional ‘s in Paddy, the additional ‘e’ in whiskey, the altered image of Paddy himself with bowler hat, clover and smile has all caused a degree of ire.

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I see it as the onward development & change inherent within the whiskey industry.

Spotting some bottles in my local Dunnes store when out shopping – also with the extra ‘e’ – I thought it opportune to revisit this blend.

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Paddy Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The nose has that sweet caramelly aroma common to many an entry level blend. It’s relatively grainy neutral otherwise.

The taste is soft & sweet, but develops into a noticeable heat with warming vanilla & caramel dominating.

It’s a robust little dram with a short finish & uncomplicated appeal.

What Paddy Flaherty was dishing out in his legendary sales adventures is in all probability nothing like today’s offering.

To begin with it wouldn’t have been chill filtered. That practice didn’t become common until after the 1940’s or 50’s.

The barley and/or corn raw ingredients were probably organic – as were all grains in a pre-petro chemical agri business environment.

The whiskey Paddy was plying would likely have been a pot still whiskey – a  mix of malted & unmalted barley – and not a blend at all. Irish distillers were reluctant to embrace the new technology of the Coffey Still which kick started the modern whisky industry.

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Paddy no ‘e’ Centenary Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

It also wasn’t until the 1920’s or 30’s that bottling Irish whiskey became the norm. Usually it was sold in barrels to pubs, bars & hotels who dispensed it straight from the cask – a large variation in quality could then ensue.

Even if Carol Quinn – Archivist at Irish Distillers – is sitting on an original Paddy Whisky recipe – it would be difficult to recreate.

The soils would be different, the water would be different, the air would be different, the processes have been altered, the wood for maturation would be different – all factors that in a myriad of ways would alter the taste, texture and flavour of the resulting whiskey.

But we can sit down today and enjoy a glass of Paddy’s Irish Whiskey.

I raise a toast to his memory and the fabulous tales therein of the original brand ambassador.

Sláinte

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Manchester Whiskey Adventures

It wasn’t planned.

I was supposed to be revising for an exam – but the Teeling Small Batch on the Aer Lingus flight only reacquainted myself with this lovely little blend & provided a taster for what was unknowingly to come.

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In flight entertainment! c/othewhiskeynut

After checking into the city centre hotel – a quick read over the course book – it was out for a wander to visit the Whiskey Jar pub.

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Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

The promise of 400+ whiskies to whet my appetite accompanied by a tasty pie for the late Sunday afternoon lunch sounded too good to miss.

On entering I was taken aback!

Gathered in the pub were a clutch of whiskey companies displaying their wares.

Woo Hoo!


A small cover charge – along with a tasting glass – had me at the first stall.

Heaven Hill.

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Fighting Cock Fighting Whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

Now any company that puts out a bottle called Fighting Cock emblazoned with a fiery red rooster just calls out for a tasting!

At 51.5% this high rye bourbon packs a lively spicy punch on the nose.

It followed through with rich warming vanilla & caramel in a mouth filling flavour explosion.

My kinda bourbon.

The rep guided me onto the Rittenhouse Rye.

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Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

A much more cultured well balanced offering than the beast that is Fighting Cock.

In the interests of exploration Mellow Corn also hit my palate.

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Mellow in name but not on taste. c/othewhiskeynut

Normally corn wouldn’t be a favourite of mine – but the high ABV – 50% – along with a minimum 2 years in virgin oak casks had imbued this whiskey with some very attractive notes & flavours.

I could be a corn convert with this one!

Old Pulteney were up next.

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Where has the boat gone? c/othewhiskeynut

They’ve had a little brand update – new labels & new expressions – I do miss the old fishing boat motif however.

The Huddart NAS – with the peat influence coming from the barrels rather than the barley – was a pleasant little easy peaty sipper.

The 15 year old was well balanced – just lacked a little character – whereas the top of the range 18yo had gained some gorgeous drying woody tannins from the extra years in the cask & pulled me in.

Jameson were on show too.

I had a quick chat with the rep who informed me Whiskey Jar have a monthly whisky showcase which is usually well attended & seems to be growing. Check out the Whiskey Jar link for further events.

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A Glenlivet trio. c/othewhiskeynut

Being familiar with the Jameson on show – I was guided to fellow Pernod Ricard brand Glenlivet for a vertical tasting of their core range.

All very grand – but nothing exciting.

Only the Captain’s Reserve had a bit more going on to entice me.

Cotswolds showcased their very enticingly fresh single malt.

Having already polished off a bottle I was just congratulating the rep when this was produced.

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Cotswolds Cask Strength c/othewhiskeynut

A cask strength single malt matured in American Oak which previously contained red wine & has been shaved, toasted and charred too!

It works!

At 60.9% there is no burn on the nose.

It does fill the palate – but the rich flavours shine through in a fabulous frenzy of taste more like a 50% offering!

Dangerous stuff – yet oh so gorgeous.

Without doubt my prize pick of the evening!

For a last pour it was back to Heaven Hill and a shot of Elijah Craig Small Batch.

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A cultured bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Despite being a low rye bourbon this had an attractive spice from the years in virgin charred oak. The rounded complexity of the drinking experience surprised me.

Show over – most of the whisky fans departed.

I settled down to a hot pie washed down with my original intended choice for the evening – English Whisky.

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Peated English Whisky? c/othewhiskeynut

Chapter 15’s a heavy peat hitter. I like it for that – but it’s rather one dimensional otherwise.

I got chatting to some other late departees so another pie – and another whiskey – were ordered.

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye.

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Like Chapter 15’s peat – the rye dominated here – but with additional fruity notes too.

Very fresh & enjoyable.

Time to head home – or I should say the hotel bar?

I pondered over a glass of Hibiki Harmony – which sang to me a lot sweeter than on my first encounter – while shooting the breeze with a fellow late night imbiber.

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Hibiki Harmony sang sweeter c/othewhiskeynut

A hot mug of tea eventually rounded off my supposedly Sunday afternoon few.

I did make the exam the next morning.

A hearty breakfast works wonders.

WSET Level 2 Spirits – with distinction if you were wondering.

I think the liquid training added to the pleasure!

Sláinte

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Hvenus Rye, 45.6%

It would be remiss of me not to visit a Systembolaget shop whilst in Sweden.

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All booze is bought here. c/othewhiskeynut

Systembolaget are the chain of state owned off licences set up in 1955 to control the sale & consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol is strictly governed in Sweden.

There is no advertising.

There is no sponsorship.

There is no ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free!’.

What there is are high taxes and I must say – a very pleasing & clean shopping experience.

The stores are bright & airy.

There is a cheerful atmosphere.

All brands get equal exposure. There are no promotional ads from the big brands dominating the aisles.

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See what you’re looking for? c/othewhiskeynut

 

Each category is clearly labelled – equally – so it’s not difficult to find what you’re looking for.

I already knew what I was after.

Systembolaget do an online guide here detailing all that is available – by how many bottles – in each shop. So I already knew before entering the store my choice was on the shelves.

Very impressive.

Well what did I go for?

Hven had already impressed me on first encountering their distinctively shaped & super tasty whiskies at the Whisky Birmingham show a few years ago.

Learning they had produced a rye – my other love – there was no contest.

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Spirit of Hven Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Now Hven don’t do chill filtering nor added caramel.

They give extensive detail regarding the grains, process & method of the products they release – and this rye is no exception.

But open information doesn’t gaurantee great taste – so how was it?

A gorgeously wholesome white peppery signature rye spiciness greeted me with a spirity kick.

The delivery was smooth on the palate. The spices gently grew along with some herbaceous floral notes giving a savoury balance to the sweet.

The drying spices rolled around on the finish leaving a warm cosiness to counter the snow outside.

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Even the river was frozen! c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely well balanced rye from the Spirit Of Hven Distillery.

A gorgeously warm whisky to welcome me to Göteborg.

Tack tack

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8 Degrees Blowhard, 12% vs O’Hara’s Irish Wit, 4%

It’s an unfair comparison – but if your gonna try a few Irish Beer/Whiskey collaborations – these 2 occupy the extremes of the growing genre.

8° Brewing Blowhard Imperial Stout at an eye watering 12% just wipes the 4% O’Hara’s Irish Wit off the counter.

Neither are bad beers – it’s just down to preference – but if I’m going to do a whiskey influenced beer –  I tend to go for something I can get my teeth into – and Blowhard certainly provides that.

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Blowhard Imperial Stout, 12% c/othewhiskeynut

Aged in Jameson barrels, Blowhard is rich, dark & heavy.

Solid notes of malt, caramel & burnt molasses assault the palate & demand attention. The whiskey element adds to the complex mix of flavours with a decadent flair that makes you sit back, sip & enjoy.

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Irish Wit 4% c/othewhiskeynut

Using Tullamore DEW yeast, Irish Wit is subtle, easy & light.

Appreciable malt on the nose merely hints at the whiskey connection. The body is thin – but would make an enjoyable session beer. It’s one to enjoy with friends.

The contrasting approaches to the style are entertaining to explore.

Which one would you go for?

Sláinte

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AK Bar Whisky, 40%

It’s Chinese New Year starting on the 5th of February.

As part of celebrating the Lunar New Year I cracked open the wonderfully labelled AK Bar Whisky from China itself.

AK Bar produce an impressive array of spirits.

AK Bar brands
AK Bar brands c/oAlibaba

Quite what is in them is hard to define.

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All you need to know? c/othewhiskeynut

The Alibaba site for AK Bar Whisky makes for interesting, confusing & entertaining reading to say the least. Form your own conclusions by having a look here.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained – I poured a generous túath glass for tasting.

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Feel the roar! c/othewhiskeynut

Now the colour – for a stated 3 year old – is a little on the dark side & suggests added caramel.

The nose is very muted.

It’s like sniffing a chocolate biscuit liquid toffee filing.

No hint of 40% alcohol strength here.

It starts off almost watery & smooth to begin with. The sweet toffee, caramel & honey all blend together before a softly growing heat makes a pleasant entrance towards the end.

The heat slowly fades leaving a gentle sweet kiss of burnt toffee at the end.

It’s verging on liqueur territory – which is probably a more accurate appraisal.

It’s not offensive – just way too sweet for my liking – but the one thing I agree with in the Alibaba description;

large power after drinking

holds true.

乾杯, gán béi, cheers, sláinte

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Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye, Port Finish, 47%

When in Manchester recently I did a quick internet search to find a suitable watering hole.

The Whiskey Jar won the day.

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Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

One of the many whiskeys on offer that took my eye  – Dad’s Hat Rye – ended up in the glass.

A satisfyingly welcoming peppery rye spice greeted my nose – although it seemed to be muted somewhat by sweet dark fruits.

Oh!

I didn’t notice the bottom line – Finished In Port Wine Barrels.

Now that’s a novel approach which does seem to add additional flavours to the standard rye offering.

The fruity notes held sway on the front before that spicy pepper hit I love kicked in towards the latter half.

A gorgeous little combination of elements to tease the palate.

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Aged for how long? c/othewhiskeynut

I was taken aback when I read the maturation times on the side label.

For only 9 months old – the virgin charred american oak quarter casks & ex-port barrels have worked their magic to create a wonderfully fresh rye with a fruity twist.

A very enjoyable baby rye!

Sláinte

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Aussie Whisky For Australia Day

Australia Day is on January 26th.

What better occasion to celebrate by tasting a few Australian whiskies?

Now I must admit to downing these whiskies a wee while ago – but the memories of them and the great times I enjoyed on my visit down under still linger.

The Aussie whisky scene is built mainly around small batch runs of single cask single malt offerings which change on a regular basis. What I tasted may no longer be available – but the quality I found will undoubtedly continue.

Bad Frankie’s bar in Melbourne specializes in Aussie whisky. I was taken aback by the variety of styles, tastes & flavours of whisky on offer.  I had to return for a 2nd visit the day before my flight home. The experience was Out The Window – cue for a song.

For my 1st visit to Bad Frankie press here.

Again I availed of the 5 samples for $40 – it was 2016 – and chose the following.

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Bakery Hill c/othewhiskeynut

Bakery Hill Classic Malt, 46%

A fine sweet bourbon cask influenced single malt with a good smooth well balanced delivery.

Bakery Hill are one of the larger whisky distilleries operating out of Melbourne. They produce a core range of malts and have gained much appreciation. This whisky stands up very well with any comparisons worldwide.

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Belgrove Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Belgrove Rye Pinot Noir Cask, 63.4%

Just wow! Spicy rye softened by dark fruits in a powerful full strength mouthfeel. A wonderful experience.

Belgrove are a micro distillery in Tasmania using all home grown rye & barley distilled in home made kit by Peter Bignell. Out of this world.

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Southern Coast PX c/othewhiskeynut

Southern Coast PX Cask, 65.5%

A rich dark fruits tasting single malt of character & strength.

Southern Coast is a private bottling for the Odd Whisky Coy in Adelaide. There’s a bit of a story here. A story of money – or lack of it – whisky, fame, fortune & law courts. You can read more here.  All I can say is the whisky tastes fab.

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Iniquity c/othewhiskeynut

Iniquity Batch 004, 46%

A calmer smoother more balanced fruity & fresh whisky.

Iniquity are what came out of the court case above. Nice whisky – but lacked the power of the former cask strength expression.

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Redlands Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Redlands The Old Stable, 46%

A rich inviting nose had an odd taste in the middle but left a lovely spicy finish.

Redlands are another Tasmanian whisky distillery offering limited batch releases of fine quality. This one just didn’t sit right with me.

Having enjoyed the above selection – a full portion of Southern Coast Port Cask at 50% was ordered as the PX cask was such a winner.

This came with an unbelievably dark colour – all natural I was told – and an equally lovely dark & rich tasting experience. Just wonderful.

We also indulged in a Bad Frankie speciality – Lamington jaffles – but these proved a little too dry – unlike the juicy whisky!

Sláinte

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An A.D. Rattray Appreciation

A.D. Rattray are an independent bottler of fine standing in Scotland.

They happen to have a lovely Whisky Shop on the main access route – A77 – to & from the Irish ferry terminals at Stranraer & Cairnryan that I often use to cross the water.

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The AD Rattray Whisky Shop c/othewhiskeynut

Oddly enough on my last trip – January 2018 – it was the first time in well over a decade using this route I encountered armed police, a passport check, a personal check as well as a vehicle check – all for an internal crossing?

Brexit changes indeed.

The Whisky Shop itself is a treasure trove of whisky, some gins & local beers too. Predominately Scotch it has to be said – although there is a sprinkling of world whisky. There are also tasting classes, rare single casks to be had, a small museum and more to attract you in and delay your journey.

But as I was driving – I made do with an elegantly packaged & well presented 5 pack A.D. Rattray miniature selection.

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Miniature selection c/othewhiskeynut

Nearly a year later I eventually managed to sample them if only to mark Rabbie Burns Night – who happened to live nearby.

The standard Bank Note 5 Year Old Blend at 43% struck me as just being that – standard. Pleasant enough with it – but no stand out qualities to pull me in. I do like the label however.

Next up was the Stronachie Highland Single Malt 10 Year Old – also at 43%. With this A.D. Rattray branded malt you actually get the distillery of origin – Benrinnes in this case – unlike the blended offering.

Now 10 year old malts these days are often considered entry level – and I’m afraid my tasting experience only concurred with this hypothesis.

Smooth, easy drinking, well balanced butterscotch, honey & vanilla – just not enough character or oomph for my tastes.

Meanwhile the Stronachie 18 – also Benrinnes sourced but with a slightly higher 46% ABV – gained some lovely dry woody tannins from the extra years in maturation. I was pulled in with it’s suitably more complex , characterful & to my palate anyway – a much more appealing dram.

The next bottle – at least from the label – promised something special.

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Cambus 26yo Single Grain c/othewhiskeynut

A single grain whisky from a closed distillery – Cambus – matured for no less than 26 years  & presented at 59.9% with no chill filtering nor added colouring. – kind of suggests the other bottlings perhaps had added e150 or chill filtering as it wasn’t stated on their labels?

Part of the A.D. Rattray Cask Collection – which changes regularly – I was very happy to try this single grain.

It’s a category of whisky many people dismiss – which is fine – all the more for me to enjoy!

It’s fresh, it’s lively, it’s full of flavour, it’s got character, it’s got strength, it’s got lucious drying tannins & velvety vanilla which just explode in the mouth.

A wonderful whisky.

The final miniature was Cask Islay – an non aged statement (NAS) non disclosed distillery single malt presented at 46%.

Now normally an Islay influenced dram floats my boat – but not this sweet peat. I think I prefer dry ashiness myself.

Perhaps the cask strength offering of earlier had influenced my findings. But I had cleansed my palate after each sample, left a gap in-between & then re-sampled later. All to no avail.

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An outstanding single grain! c/othewhiskeynut

The Single Grain Cambus 26 Year Old is clearly my top of the pile – a stunning drop.

Stronachie 18 Single Malt is a close runner.

The others didn’t make the cut.

Sláinte

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