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Master of Malt Blog

Author: Master of Malt

The Nightcap: 8 February

Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here! Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel…

Bee-saving beer, new Bladnoch, Brexit gubbins and more stories about things that don’t start with B. The Nightcap is here!

Hmm… Something seems different around here… Why does everything feel much sleeker and generally cooler? Has the MoM blog had a haircut? Maybe it’s wearing a new pair of shoes that really complements its digital eyes? Anyway, I’m sure someone will say something about that in due course – right this moment, The Nightcap is at the forefront of our minds!

Here’s a recap of what’s happened on the MoM blog this week. Annie investigated how Aussie distillers are using the work of Mother Nature to make whisky, then had a look at the buzz surround CBD cocktails. Henry’s Cocktail of the Week was the Brandy Sour – and when he wasn’t busy mixing up tasty drinks, he was talking to Rod Eslamieh about how to run a bar and recapping the night of Master of Malt winning Online Retailer of the Year at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2019. Adam added some brilliant beers to our “Must Try” list (which is already pretty long – thanks Adam), and Kristy explored the Craigellachie distillery in all its worm-tub awesomeness.

What an interesting week, and how attractively presented, don’t you think? Enough hints, if you haven’t noticed by now, you’ll never notice. It’s time for the Nightcap!

Finally, some good Brexit news

Good Brexit news! The US and UK agree divorce-proof booze terms

Forget the stalemate, ignore the sagas. We have good Brexit news! Some of our most beloved boozes were safeguarded last week after the US and UK agreed they would protect names and the definitions attached to them. The mutual agreement means that post-Brexit, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey (which is made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic), Tennessee whiskey, and bourbon will all be recognised in bilateral trade. This might not sound like a big deal, but it can take years to secure protection for spirits, and the protections that do exist are largely arranged with the EU, rather than the UK. The Continuity Agreement, as it is known, has been welcomed across the industry and beyond. “Ensuring that our flagship spirits exports – bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – will continue to be protected provides our companies much-needed assurances as the UK negotiates its departure from the EU,” said Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO, Chris Swonger. Meanwhile, Scotch Whisky Association international director, Sarah Dickson, commented: “Scotch Whisky already enjoys legal protection in the US Federal Code, but this agreement mirrors the protection currently offered under the US-EU agreement and secures the continued recognition of all UK and US whiskies. This will give US consumers the confidence that after Brexit the Scotch whisky they enjoy is distilled and matured in Scotland in accordance with UK law.” Hurrah all round!

Andy Simpson and David Robertson from Rare Whisky 101

Whiskey auction market up by over 60% according to Rare Whisky 101

A report just published by Rare Whisky 101 shows that the value of Single Malt whisky sold at auction rose by a staggering 62.7% from 2017. The report is packed with fascinating stats (for whisky nerds anyway). Over 100,000 bottles of rare whisky were sold at UK auctions last year. The top end of the market looks particularly strong with the number of bottles going for £10,000 or more increasing from 91 in 2017 to 265 last year. Who can forget the record-breaking Macallan 1926 which sold for £1 million? Investing in whisky still looks like a good bet for the time being. The Apex 1000 Index (which tracks the values of rare whiskies) was up 30% this year, out-performing the FTSE, fine wine, crude oil and gold. Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said: “The secondary market for rare whisky continues to outperform our expectations. With the average bottle price increasing by around 15% from the half-year stage to year-end…. Across the board, we’re seeing an increased number of valuable bottles selling for greater value than ever before resulting in phenomenal growth within the market for over £1,000 bottles.” Gazing into his whisky crystal ball, co-founder David Robertson said: “The UK auction market remains the biggest and most active market worldwide, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. However, with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us, it is extremely difficult to second guess what will happen with cross border trade and access to bottles. From both a volume and value perspective, 2019 is very difficult to predict!”

Martell was a star performer for Pernod Ricard

Martell bolsters Pernod Ricard’s H1 sales

This week it was French drinks group Pernod Ricard’s chance to crunch the numbers. The company, which owns the likes of Jameson, Chivas Brothers (think: Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Ballantine’s), Martell, Beefeater and more, saw its sales climb 7.8% to €5.18 billion (about £4.53bn) for the six months to 31 December 2018. Its ‘Strategic International Brands’ (featuring Martell, Jameson, Scotch, gin and the Champers brands) contributed 10% gains, while Lillet, Monkey 47 and Altos were specifically named as giving the ‘Speciality Brands’ division an 11% boost. While the Americas region showed ‘robust’ growth, Asia-Rest of World soared by 16%. Pernod didn’t have it all its own way, with Europe ‘stable’ as Western Europe failed to shine. Looking ahead, chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard said, “For full year FY19, in an environment that remains uncertain, we aim to continue dynamic and diversified growth across our regions and brands.”

Oz Clarke didn’t win, despite our prediction. Here he is with judge, Victoria Moore.

André Simon drink book winner announced

The great and good of the food and drink world (and your features editor Henry) turned out at the Goring Hotel in London for the annual André Simon food and drink writing awards. You may remember last year we tipped Oz Clarke to win in the drink category with Alex Maltman’s book on vineyard soils as dark horse. We got it hopelessly wrong. Drink Book of the Year went to The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay. Oh well, we can’t always be right. The most emotional moment of the evening was when Together: A Community Cookbook won the Special Commendation. This book was created by a group of London women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and they turned out in force to collect it. Food Book of the Year went to Diana Henry’s How to Eat a Peach which was described tantalisingly by judge Meera Sodha as, “as good in bedroom as in the kitchen”. Blimey!

Fiery stuff from Douglas Laing

Douglas Laing releases collection inspired by fire, air, earth and water

Leading Scotch whisky specialist Douglas Laing & Co has announced a series of Old Particular single cask limited edition bottlings for 2019, inspired by the four elements of fire, air, earth and water. Each expression will be bottled at natural cask strength without colouring or chill-filtration. The series launches with the “fire” bottling which, very aptly, is a mocha-spiced Craigellachie 12 Years Old from a well-fired and characterful sherry butt. The specialist bottlings will each be packaged with designs that depict an intricate illustration of each of the four elements. Cara Laing, Douglas Laing’s director of whisky, who selected the whiskies, commented on the new collection: “Our cask selection and packaging design pays tribute to the natural elements that contribute so significantly to the production of Scotch whisky. From oak trees to charred casks, peat and of course water, this specialist single cask collection celebrates the role of the elements in the whisky-making cycle.” What an exciting release! So exciting, in fact, it sold out in a day. It probably deserves a few flame emojis, but we can’t do those so you’ll just have to imagine them yourselves.

Congratulations to Martin Siska

Martin Siska from Rosewood London

Martin Siska appointed as director of bars at Rosewood London

Rosewood London announced this week that Martin Siska has taken on the role as director of bars, effective 5 February! Originally from Slovakia, Siska first moved to London twelve years ago and ever since has worked across the luxury bar scene, including stints at Le Pont De La Tour, HUSH, and The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel. He spent four months working with the legendary Javier de las Muelas of Dry Martini in Barcelona in 2015, which led to him launching its first UK outpost, Dry Martini London. Siska, who we spoke to back in May 2018, was appointed bar manager at Scarfes Bar in September 2016. This has led to nominations for industry awards, including Tales of Cocktail’s Best 10 Hotel Bars in the World; Imbibe’s Drinks List of the Year; and Class Awards’s Best Cocktail Menu. Scarfes Bar is inspired by the atmosphere of a drawing room and features canvases by renowned artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, most famous for his political cartoons that have been featured in newspapers from The Sunday Times through to The New Yorker.

Say hello to Bladnoch 17 Year Old!

New year, new Bladnoch Single Malt!

Lowland distillery Bladnoch has kicked off 2019 in style with a new single malt Scotch. Bladnoch 17 Year Old, which was bottled to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery, was crafted using locally-sourced barley and pristine water from the River Bladnoch, the inspiration for the distillery’s name. The most recent release from the southernmost distillery in Scotland was originally filled into ex-bourbon barrels in 2001. It was then disgorged and re-filled into Californian ex-red wine casks over two operations in March 2016 and January 2017. A blend of two vattings, the expression was bottled at 46.7% ABV without chill-filtration. Bladnoch Distillery describes the new release as being “rich and composed on the nose, with dried fruit, coffee, cherries, toffee, vanilla and sweet oak; lively but smooth on the palate, with spicy oak, prunes, orange marmalade, cherries, with hints of liquorice and cinnamon and quite complex on the finish, with malty, dried fruits, shortbread and spicy lightly peppery oak”. Sounds delicious!

The Cosmopolitan marks the Chinese New Year in style!

The Cosmopolitan in Vegas unveils Year of the Pig cocktail (it’s suitable for vegetarians)

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is celebrating Chinese New Year the only way it knows how: decadent cocktails, delicious food and a lion dance! Celebrations to commemorate The Year of the Pig kick off on 7 February. Guests can indulge themselves with a 10 course (that’s right, 10!) ‘Emperor’s Feast’ for dinner. Of course, we’re more interested in the Year of the Pig Cocktail, created by chef mixologist Mariena Mercer. Capturing the traditional tastes of Chinese culture, the signature drink mixes a plethora of ingredients: Whistlepig rye, Umeshu plum sake, ceremonial-grade matcha tea, maraschino liqueur, lemongrass ginger syrup, lemon juice and egg white, all topped off with an edible pig garnish (which consists of paper made from potato and tapioca starches rather than a piece of pork). Alternatively, guests can celebrate with the Grass is Always Green cocktail, a concoction of Hong Kong Baijiu, Bombay Sapphire East, yuzu, orgeat, shishito and Szechuan pepper. Happy Year of the Pig to all those in Sin City!

Bee saving beer is a cause we can get behind.

Bumble Beer looks to crowdfund £50k to launch its bee saving bee-r!

Bumble Beer has created quite a buzz with the announcement of its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 to kickstart its eco-beer. The aim is nothing less than to help save the bees! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that our pollinating friends are very much in trouble, though the facts are still shocking: 97% of Britain’s wildflower habitats have been destroyed since the 1940s, and nearly 10% of Europe’s wild bee species are facing extinction. Bumble Beer to the rescue! The inaugural product is a vegan 5% premium Pilsner, brewed with organic ingredients grown completely without any harmful pesticides, the most direct risk to bees. You can register pre-launch interest here, with the campaign going fully live on 1st March. Sustainability is at the forefront of every production stage; even its beer crates contain around 30 wildflower seeds, while the brewery has also developed wildflower-seed-infused recycled paper coasters. We love to see packaging that does more good than harm, for a change! Hopefully these ingenious brewers will inspire more to follow in their footsteps. So, join founder Jason Winter on his “beer loving, bee-friendly revolution” – well, it would be rude not to! Who knew ethics would taste so good?

Behold, the Negroni Segreto!

Free Negronis!

Well, that certainly got your attention. To celebrate the launch of ‘Entering Red’, a new short in Campari’s Red Diaries film series, the company is giving away 1,000 Negronis. But these aren’t just any Negronis, oh no. They have been created by award-winning bartender Joe Schofield to celebrate the 100th birthday of this legendary cocktail. The special version is called a Negroni Segreto and it contains Campari (naturalmente), Bulldog Gin, Cinzano Rosso 1757 vermouth, rosewater and fresh raspberries. Sounds splendid! There are ten bars participating in London and Manchester. Each bar has 100 Negronis to give away. In order to claim your free drink, just watch the film and then say the phrase that the Ana de Armas character says when she enters the bar for the second time. The offer is open from Friday 8 February (that’s tonight!) until Sunday 10 February from 6pm (see here for full details.) Time to watch that film.

Raasay distillery Head distiller Iain Robertson

Head distiller Iain Robertson with a wee cask

And finally… Raasay Distillery launches baby whisky casks. Awwwwwww, cute.

Many distilleries, especially the newer ones trying to raise funds, allow customers to buy casks but they tend to be quite expensive. So, for the (comparatively) budget-conscious Scotch lover, the Raasay Distillery is something a little smaller. Distillery co-founder Alasdair Day said: “We wanted to make our first single malt more accessible in these new smaller casks. Depending on the angels’ share, after three years we expect to get around 40 bottles from the 30 litre casks, each offering a distinctly different character of Raasay whisky to our other bottlings.” A little cask costs £999, compared with £5000 for a 150 litre one (though you will have to pay VAT and duty on delivery). We were rather hoping that you’d be able to take your cask home after filling. Sadly, SWA rules don’t allow this, so it has to remain on Raasay while it matures. But you can visit it at the distillery, and maybe sing to it or just tell it your problems. Whisky casks are good listeners. Then, after bottling, you get to take your empty cask home with your bottles so you could then decant the whisky back into the cask and then you’d have your very own little cask to mature in your cellar, shed, or by your bed so you can say good night to it.

And on that sweet thought, it’s time to say goodbye, and have a great weekend!

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10 new Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies!

We’ve got a whole new batch of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, people! 10 of them, to be specific. Are you very excited? You should be. Whisky fans,…

We’ve got a whole new batch of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, people! 10 of them, to be specific. Are you very excited? You should be.

Whisky fans, rejoice. We’ve done it again! You know the drill by now. We introduce a brand new selection of Master of Malt Single Cask Series whiskies, you enjoy the spoils of our labour. What a system.

As always, we’ve managed to get our hands on some truly sublime single malts from a host of fantastic distilleries, including: Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Mortlach, Craigellachie and more. The single cask expressions range from 8 to 37 years matured and every single edition is presented at cask strength, without any chill-filtration or added colourings. All you find in these MoM-tastic bottles is very, very tasty whisky.

Now go check out our brand new selection below and enjoy!

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The Nightcap: 1 February

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap! Greetings to all from your favourite pals…

We welcome February with stories of distillery reopening progress, new Glenmorangie deliciousness, and whisky coming to the big screen. Time for The Nightcap!

Greetings to all from your favourite pals at Master of Malt, and welcome to another edition of The Nightcap – our weekly round-up of all the booze news from the week that was. It’s a bit like a neater version of someone taking all the interesting stories about all the tastiest drinks, loading them into a cannon and firing them at your PC/phone/tablet/eyeball computer. Is our lack of a cannon the only reason we aren’t doing this in that way? Maybe!

Here’s what’s been happening on the MoM Blog this week. Annie checked out some nutrient-rich (and protein-packed) serves from JJ Goodman and explored the ongoing rise of Japanese gins. Our newest writer Jess had a look at Allta, the most recent Private Edition bottling from Glenmorangie (more on that later). Adam helped you get prepared for Valentine’s Day with a selection of lovely treats. Kristy had a nose around Glenglassaugh, and then looked at the crucial training aspects of cocktail-making. Henry checked out Kingsbarn’s first commercial whisky launch, gave us the background on The Bramble cocktail, and offered up some tasty drinks recommendations for all of you watching the Super Bowl this weekend.

Now. On with the news!

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Master of Malt Dram Club – February 2019

Uh oh, look who it is – our favourite month that begins with the letter F – it’s February! Shall we have a peek at what Master of Malt Dram…

Uh oh, look who it is – our favourite month that begins with the letter F – it’s February! Shall we have a peek at what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be finding in their Tasting Sets this month?

There’s a theory floating around that the real reason why February is a short month is because January secretly has about 4,528 days (give or take a week). The good news is that we’re free of January’s razor-sharp clutches and ready to continue our 2019 with… Loads of snow?! Oh for goodness sake. Put that thought to one side for the moment, because it’s time to see what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be finding has magically appeared on their doorstep in February!

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The Nightcap: 25 January

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze –…

The time has come once again for your favourite pals at Master of Malt to dive in to the news stories of the week from the world of booze – it’s another edition of The Nightcap!

You have technically made it through the final full work week of January 2019. That in itself is a triumph. High-fives and fist-bumps all around – your choice which you receive. Personally, I enjoy the nonchalant and relaxed nature of a fist-bump, but others might prefer the exuberant bravado of a high-five. Either way, you’ve done all well. Also, since it’s a Friday, it’s time for our weekly round-up of the stories from the drinks world. Bonus.

Here’s what’s been doing down on the MoM Blog this week. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection happened again – in fact, it’s still happening, as our charity auctions for bottles of these exciting whiskeys are continuing on over the weekend! Annie chatted with The Three Drinkers off of the TV about whisky being on the TV, and then had a look at Aussie whisky in honour of Australia Day (which is tomorrow). Henry sat down with Conor Hyde from Hyde Whiskey to find out about whiskey bonding and more, then took us through the foundations a classic with the Cocktail of the Week – the Martini. Kristy talked to Jon Purcell about his new book, The Art in Whisky, and has been having a nose around some of California’s best distilleries – check out our Instagram stories to see what she’s been up to. Adam showed off oddles of delicious treats based around coffee and tea, then took a look at Auchentoshan’s New Malt Order and how bartenders help shape some of the distilleries whiskies.

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Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2018: lotteries and charity auctions

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation…

Set the excitement controls to very extremely exciting because the 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is here! As we have done in the past, we will be splitting each allocation between a 30ml dram lottery, a bottle lottery, and a charity auction.

To find out when and where the action will take place, see the timeline below.

The release of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is one of the most eagerly-awaited events in the whiskey lover’s calendar. We were lucky enough to receive a small allocation (see below) and demand is likely to be bananas. Therefore, as in the past few years, we will be using our patented ‘least-worst’ three-pronged approach.

For more information on our approach see this post from 2016, which explains everything in great detail. Here are the prongs:

Prong 1) A third of the allocation will be turned into 30ml Drinks by the Dram samples (drams) so that as many people as possible can taste these whiskeys. These drams will be allocated for sale by lottery.

Prong 2) Another third will be sold as full bottles, again allocated by lottery, with the following statement on the back of each: “I, [your lucky winning name], hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.

Prong 3) The final third will be sold via auction with everything over RRP (net of any applicable VAT) going to Malaria No More UK. Last year these Buffalo Trace auctions alone raised over £3,000 towards eradicating a disease that is especially deadly to children under five. Your love of whiskey can help save lives. You can find out more about our chosen charity here.

Right, all clear? Let’s have a look at the whiskeys:

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The Nightcap: 18 January

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to…

The sun has gone down, the working week is ending, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and catch up with all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s time for… The Nightcap!

This week we went Robert Burns crazy with the launch of our poetry competition. We’ve already been inundated with entries, and the winner will be announced on Burns Night itself (25 January.) Then continuing with the Burns theme, Adam rounded up some Scotch whiskies that would have brought a smile to the Bard’s face. Annie looked at some unusual bottles: rye whiskies from Britain, and peat-smoked spirits from everywhere except Scotland (not sure Burns would have approved.) Our Cocktail of the Week was that tiki classic, the Zombie. Kristy visited the Wolfburn Distillery and spoke to top glass maker Denver Cramer about how to get the most out of your nose.

Lots to get your teeth into! And now it’s time for booze news. Here we go!

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Burns Night poetry comp – win Robert Burns single malt!

Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition! Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but…

Friday 25th January is Burns Night and to celebrate Scotland’s bard we are doing something a little different, a poetry competition!

Robbie Burns was not only Scotland’s greatest poet but he was also famously keen on Scotland’s greatest export, Tunnock’s Teacakes. Sorry, whisky! If Burns had the money, he drank Ferintosh from the Black Isle, which was considered the best whisky in Scotland. When it stopped distilling in 1784, Burns wrote a poem: “Ferintosh! O sadly lost! Scotland lament frae coast to coast….” Though a lowlander, he was not very keen on Lowland whiskies, referring to them as “rascally liquor”. Perhaps though, Burns’s most famous pronouncement was: “Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither! Take aff your dram!” And who can argue with that?

So to celebrate Burns and Scotch whisky, Master of Malt is proud to announce a poetry competition. All you have to do is write a poem about whisky. It’s as simple as that. It could be a sonnet, a haiku, a limerick, or, if you have the time, an epic like ‘Paradise Lost’. You could even write it in the style of Burns. It could be about a specific whisky (shall I compare thee to a Famous Grouse?), or could be about whisky in general. We only insist that your poem must be in English or Scots. The winner will be the one that we think is the best (making us laugh will probably help).

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The Nightcap: 11 January

It’s our first Nightcap of 2019 so it’s a special bumper edition. We’ve got a lot to get through so without further delay, ado, procrastination or beating about the bush,…

It’s our first Nightcap of 2019 so it’s a special bumper edition. We’ve got a lot to get through so without further delay, ado, procrastination or beating about the bush, here’s what we’ve been up to since the last Nightcap way back in 2018.

Cast your mind back to New Year’s Eve, we know it seems like a long time ago, Adam came up with some top tips to drink on the night. Between Christmas and New Year, we rounded up our most-read stories of 2018, and looked at Glenkinchie’s exciting plans to become a top tourist destination. Then as January began, Annie fell in love with grain whisky and learned how your other senses affect how you taste. Adam produced a list of mouthwateringly-refreshing drinks and got all seasonal with winter-y botanicals. Kristy peered into her crystal ball (yes, she really has a crystal ball) to see what we’ll be drinking in the next few years and spoke to some bigwigs at Johnnie Walker about the future of whisky. And finally, Henry put in a plea for fortified wines, introduced a new regular feature, Cocktail of the Week, and got all bitter and twisted over amari. See what we mean about bumper edition?

And that’s not all. We had our first Dram Club of 2019 and announced a competition to win a VIP trip to Ardbeg!

Such content. Now we can’t hold back the tide of news any longer. Here it comes!

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Master of Malt Dram Club – January 2019

Happy New Year, folks! Let’s set 2019 off on a delicious note with a sneak peek at January’s Tasting Sets. And if this is your first Master of Malt Dram…

Happy New Year, folks! Let’s set 2019 off on a delicious note with a sneak peek at January’s Tasting Sets. And if this is your first Master of Malt Dram Club box, welcome aboard the delectable journey!

We’re not entirely sure how it’s happened either, but 1 January 2019 is upon us. But forget New Year’s resolutions and all that new-year-new-me nonsense, something far more exciting is afoot. It’s time to unveil what Master of Malt Dram Club members will be receiving in their Tasting Sets boxes this month!

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