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Big Peat

Average score from 16 reviews and 18 ratings 86

Big Peat

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Big Peat

Big Peat is a blended malt, sometimes called vatted malt, from Douglas Laing & co. The bottle features a bearded Scotsman (presumably named "Pete") wearing a sweater. It is unchil-filtered (yay!) and I don't think there's any mention of E150a, but this is so lightly coloured, almost clear, so I'd venture to guess it's bottled at natural colour. Which single malts are in this blend? According to the company's website:

With Caol Ila spirit bringing sweetness, Bowmore the perfect balance, Ardbeg the medicinal, earthy quality and Port Ellen, a degree of elegance, Big Peat represents all that is Islay in a bottle. Fred Laing tells us that of course, there are a couple of Blender's Secrets in Big Peat too – but even after a few drams, he won’t share that info – and so it remains our peaty little secret!

So what's the "secret"? Laphroaig? Lagavulin? Bruichladdich? Bunnahabhain? I guess we'll never know. But more importantly, how does it taste?

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): smoke, peat, with citrus fruits and sweet barley grain behind it. Graham crackers perhaps. Smells like a toned-down Ardbeg. With time in the glass, a faint bacon aroma develops. I like this.
  • Palate (undiluted): slightly oily texture yet still somewhat light-bodied. It's a bit briny, however there are lots of deep, dark flavours here; it's ashy on arrival, develops some pepperiness, and a touch of tobacco.
  • Finish: somewhat drying, black pepper, tarry, slightly antiseptic, with some very dark chocolate ( > 85%) and coffee flavours lingering.

I did not, at any point, add water to this whisky. It did not need it and I didn't want to add any. My only criticism, and it is an admittedly minor one, is that it didn't have an overly wide spectrum of flavours. Most of the flavours are deep, dark, smoky and ashy. There seemed to be a bit of "high end" lightness lacking, especially on the palate and finish. Now this isn't a dealbreaker for me, as it tends to be the type of flavour profile I gravitate toward anyway, but I feel people should be aware of it. Big Peat's "flavour colour" or "pitch of flavour" is closer to Laphroaig Quarter Cask than it is to Lagavulin 8 Year Old, if that comparison makes sense. There's a stark contrast between the colour of this whisky and its flavour. I don't think this is currently available in Ontario, but I'd buy it if it were.

Thanks to @Nozinan for giving me this (mostly? half?) full 200ml bottle of Big Peat to taste extensively.


Big Peat is very popular, something Douglas Laing understands very well. That explains why there are so many ‘limited releases’ like the Belgian Edition, London Edition, Edinburgh Edition, Swiss Edition, Hungary Edition and so on and so forth. I cannot imagine that there is a difference – bar the labels, obviously. I will try the general release, which is always available.

It is very sweet on the nose – think vanilla and yellow apples – with a bit of smoke bacon and some sea salt. There is a lightly medicinal touch and some cow stable. But the whole is quite soft.

The body is very good – full and round – and on the palate it truly is a peaty party. Loads of spices and smoke. Something that reminds me of stock fish and freshly laid asphalt. Capers and some oyster sap. The white fruit has a hard time shining though. Some citrus kicks in. It does feel quite young though.

The finish is medium long and spicy with some ashes at the death.

Nice Islay blend at an affordable price, that is quite easy to drink. It’s a touch better than I remember.


When my brother offered to bring back some stuff from England on a stopover, I took the opportunity to check out the online shops in order to see if I could land one of my modern Holy Grail whiskies, Benromach 100/10. I settled on Master of Malt because it was considerably less expensive with shipping charges. Because he and his wife could each bring back just over a litre, I had to see if I could find some minis or samples (I got some “drinks by the dram”) to make the most of his generosity. They happened to have this in a 200 cc size (official bottling, not MoM sample). I have a bottle of this that I found at the LCBO but I haven’t opened it yet and 200 cc is the perfect size for a small tasting or to give as a gift.

This bottle was opened on May 22, 2016, at the Ontario summit. Even so, it was about 70% full when I gassed it and it has stayed closed since then as far as I am aware. According to the label it is not chill-filtered. The etched batch marking on the bottle is L02 03 15 // 7 08:17 BB

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

I rarely comment on colour of whisky but this one is so refreshingly pale I can’t help but assume that no caramel has been added.


Neat – Dry peat, some rubber. I asked my daughter to sniff it and tell me what she smelled like a sandy beach with “stuff” (by which she meant seashells and stuff). My son could not specify but said it smelled “strong” and made his nose feel tingly. Slightly over-toasted rye bread crust. Wet (but clean) Elastoplast woven bandages. I think I get a hint of Port Ellen (yeah right). 21/25

With water – No significant difference in the nose… maybe a hint of lemon.(21/25)


Neat – Slightly thin mouthfeel. I would have expected it to be oilier given the nose. Sweet, some chocolate, then hit with peat on the development. Not very complex, but quite smooth (neutral descriptive comment, not an endorsement) and pleasant. 22/25

With water – feels a little richer on the tongue, the peat hits the palate just a little sooner on the arrival and the chocolate is very prominent. More menthol(23/25)

Finish: A light sour note. The flavour of the finish is medium to short, but then my tongue feels like an ash tray. 21/25 With water, the ashtray is cleaner and a little menthol on the finish. (22/25)

Balance: Excellent balance between the nose and the palate. A little thin, but a pleasant dram. 21/25

This one, sipped after Trader Joe's milk Chocolate, imparts a hint of coffee. It seems to work.

Score: Neat - 85/100 With Water- 87/100

I like this, a little more with water than without. I admit though, that this is probably suited to a cooler season of the year.

I’m glad I have had a chance to try it, because something tells me this is likely as close to tasting Port Ellen as I will ever get…

Another good review @Nozinan. I haven't tried this one but I do have a bottle of the Big Peat Christmas Edition 2014 . I do like the stuff quite a bit but I don't think I'll be getting another one, there are many others I'd prefer to spend my money on. As for the Port Ellen component, I actually think that there's less than a teaspoon per bottle in there, it wouldn't make economic sense to put in any more.

Yes, definitely maritime @Alexsweden, if you take my daughter's words for it. Maybe I should save some for 10 years and she can taste it too. ;)

@Victor, I have tried the double black once. I don't remember it being memorable....


This particular review is based on the 4th sample provide by the Whisky Wire as part of the Big Peat Tweet Tasting.

Colour: Pale hay

Nose: Curious yogurt aromas escaping from the bottle while poring the glass. Zesty hints of lemon, honey, a whiff of mint, thyme spice, white pepper and cereal. With water added: a fuller smokier nose, notes of earthy peat, bonfire smoke, iodine and some fruity notes are added to the mix

Mouth: Warm and balanced, more honey, spices and dark earthy peat with hints of salt. With water added: some citrus, oranges and grilled fruit reveal themselves, this dram definitely needs a few drops of water to reveal the underlying sugary and fruity notes

Finish: Sharp and peppery, more hints of peat, a long and lingering finish.

Conclusion I was expecting that sample #5, would most likely be the Big Peat dram. But sample #4 tasted vaguely familiar, so I went for Big Peat and once again I was right (2/5: not bad, not bad at all). What I like most about this one, is the nose, I could sniff this one for hours. The most impressive about this whisky is probably its price: a quality vatted Islay-malt for only €38. Certainly worth buying.

The bottle is Big Peat, why couldn't I get that into the title?


In stores you always spot some blends that are literally screaming for your attention. The friendly beardy Big Peat is one of these with its informal and cartoonish label. He calls himself proudly an Islay blended malt shaped by whiskies from the Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the former Port Ellen distillery.

The last statement should, however, be interpretated as a – in marketing slang – Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Douglas Laing combines young fiery Islay malts with the Hyacinth Bucket of whiskies.

Tasting notes

Color: Big Peat could be called a “white boy”. The young components give it a pale yellow appearance.

Nose: A puff of smoke and vanilla rise from the glass. Once you wriggle yourself through these initial flavours, a sandalwood cigar box filled with grinded coffee beans is opened. Some eucalyptus and light sulphur make it slightly more interesting. This flavour profile reminds me of young Ardbeg.

Taste: The taste is medicinal and smoky. Sweet tobacco and ashes of aromatic sandalwood. Sometimes there's a hint of rubber and Play-Doh.

Finish: The finish is extremely long and dry. The smell of fresh bread dough lingers in the glass.

Conclusion: This is a blend that calls a halt to single malt snobbery. Bold youthfulness, surprisingly complex and affordable. It competes in the price range of 16 year old Jura's or Aberlours.

Big Peat has an extensive family: a 5cl infant, a 20cl toddler, a 70cl adolescent and a really big 4.5l man. Rationality abides me to confess that there's probably a very small amount of Port Ellen in this blend. But nonetheless a very fine one. A little rough around the edges, as a good fisherman should be.

I publish my original tasting notes in Dutch on my tumblr blog A Tasty Dram: tastydram.tumblr.com/post/67292820529/…


Another bottle I bought because of Jim Murray’s sacred scriptures. This one earned a 96 from him. This bottle brings me a step closer to “interpreting” Murray’s words for my own taste – always valuable. I opened this bottle in July of 2011. This is the combination of different tasting notes I did a few days after the bottle was open, then in June of 2012, and this past week. After the June tasting I decanted the remainder of the liquid into a 200mL bottle filling it to the brim. My score changed from an 80 up to an 85 in the first year, but virtually no change over this past year (84.5). Tasting it just last night I confirm my assessment of this bottle.

Nose: Very smoky with delicate sweet peat in the background. There is sea salt, seaweed and not a little bit of tar. I am amazed at both its earthiness, and it crisp cleanness. Lemon and grass now develop under this very interesting peat layer. There is both clean rock and dirty mud. There are a few other hints at things: flowers, spices (cumin, pepper, and thyme) and fruit (citrus, apples, raisins?). However, is almost like the peat is thin compared to the big 3 (Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin). This nose is all about earthy, dry wood chips, fresh cakes of peat and coal. There is smoke, but it is in the background. Peat is more to the fore. In summary: thin peat and very smoky.

Taste: Sweet peat on the fore and ash in the back. Very sweet peat with malt, hay, bitter herbs, oak, smoke, and more peat. That bitter note works really well against all the sweetness that greats the front of the tongue. Perhaps it is a bit of soap?

Finish: You get that suck in breath like Ardbeg waiting for the huge peat explosion that never comes. Instead you have a very subtle peat fire tainted pool carry you with a few gentle waves toward the precipice . . . There is some tar, smoke, and ash along the way but it is a very gentle journey – long but gentle. And in the end ash coats the mouth along with a little chalk?

Balance, Complexity: Unique blend of power and meekness; complexity and simplicity. This is the thing that gets Murray going. Over all I would have said that this was a young malt: it seems a lot like a young Ardbeg but with none of the power. I don’t feel like I can exactly pick out all of the elements of this vatting. The Ardbeg stands out for sure on the nose. The Caol Ila makes it presence felt with a slight oily edge to the mouthfeel. But the Bowmore and Port Ellen seem hidden to me. Overall I give it points for effort but I didn’t like the balance nor the complexity that they achieved nearly as much I expected I would. Expectations can be a bitch.

Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: So light gold as to be almost clear. Hate the color, the bottle shape, and the label most of all – seriously, it looks so silly. They should have called it “big smoke” as that would have been more accurate. Still points for ncf and 46%.

Conclusion: I think if you call it “Big Peat” it really should be a Big Peat. Other reviews on this site are noting the same issue. My problem is that it isn’t as peaty as a standard Laphroaig, Ardbeg, or Lagavulin. The whole name issue aside I am again hit with the reality – I am a Big Flavors Club guy. This is a vatted malt (now Blended Malt) and I just don’t seem to like those as much. I think when you vatt multiple whiskies together you have a rounding of edges that occurs. I just don’t like this. I won’t buy it again. Do you like rounded smoky peat? Do you wish there were more affordable older Ardbeg’s on the market like a 17 year old? Try this. I think it has much more in common with older Ardbeg then most anything else readily available – which is why Murray liked it so much.

This is "Big Peat" - I have no idea why it didn't display properly . . .


from a purchased sample

Nose: Not sure exactly what constitutes this expression or from which batch this one hails. Nice smoke and peat with ash and salty coastal notes. Light mesquite bbq, and even some white wine. Altogether approachable and elegant. Seems to have a nice dose of Caol Ila. Lemon and light orange fruits like peach.

Palate: Sweet, fruity, and a bit feisty. Not quite the peat or smoke here that I'd have expected based on the nose. Lemon, spicy ginger, pineapple, and sweet honey. This gives way to heaps of ash. Hooray! Dry and ashy. The coastal quality is fairly mellow here. The peat is more soft and pervasive, coming out a bit at the midpalate. Not the peat blast that a name like Big Peat might suggest.

Finish: Ash and a faint wisp of bbq. Eventually lemon, sugar, and vanilla re-emerge. Pretty simple and straightforward, but delicious and just the sort of thing that I enjoy. Very well done. I can definitely see myself keeping a bottle of this on stock and at hand

This is a really fine Whisky. I have enjoyed most of a bottle over the last few years. It was the peated version if Bruichladdich before the development of the three streams, "relatively unpeated" Bruichladdich, peated Port Charlotte, and octomore.

My understanding is that the PC line is replacing "peat", so maybe this will become a collector's item, though most collectors who appreciate fine drams will be able to hang onto it without opening...


This is a blended malt, consisting of Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore, and Port Ellen single malts, plus (according to a few sources) a few mystery malts tossed into the mix. With a moniker like “Big Peat,” you know what to expect here. Yet, despite what the name might imply, this is a very palatable, non-threatening whisky, more of a peat gentleman than a peat monster. I like it, but I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t blown away like the bearded chap on the label. (Captain Haddock? Having been a Tintin fan since my youth, I like to think so.)

I’ve had this bottle for only a few days, so this review is based on my third dram. If I notice some changes over time, I’ll add them to the comments section down the road.

Nose: Um...well,peat. Definitely not the lemony sort of peat associated with, say, Lagavulin, but more like a campfire in a pine forest. And someone’s roasting hot dogs over that campfire. Hints of white chocolate and maybe a little sweet pipe tobacco. Not much dimension here, but plenty of guts.

I would strongly suggest avoiding the water with Big Peat. I had my first dram neat then added a couple of tiny drops of water for my second, and it just made everything (especially the nose) go limp. Like your grandmother walking into the room after you’ve just leafed through the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. You know what I mean.

Palate: Peat (duh). I’ll go so far as to say this is the most well-rounded peat taste I’ve experienced. It’s just the right balance of smoky and sweet, medicinal and earthy. Give this to a newbie who wants to taste what peat is all about. Unlike Ardbeg 10 yo, it’s not like a sudden plunge into the deep end of the peat pool. Its balance should satisfy peat lovers, yet it won’t scare away the rookies.

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of the finish. There are some strange elements here that I’ve never tasted in a whisky, like a combination of plastic and mildly sweet fruit (cantaloupe or muskmelon), along with some burned maple syrup. Nothing in the nose or on the tongue led me to expect this. The peat is still there, but it’s been demoted from A-list star to ensemble player.

I might have a few reservations, but I regard this whisky as money well-spent. Maybe not as “Big” as I expected or desired, but “Peat” has become a good friend nonetheless.


Big Peat is definitely the Die Hard whisky. Like the first three of the Die Hard trilogy, it offers heavy blasting and lots of smoky explosions on your mouth but gives you a soft and tender side as well (mainly for your nose). It is like John McClane – a vulnerable badass.

Beauregard I. G. Peat is a citizen of Islay and that you can tell from miles away, when someone opens a bottle of Big Peat. What Big Peat gives you on the nose and in your mouth, is some heavy action of salty smoke and peat but on your throat it downsizes it's best parts. It is just like John, weeping it's tears down your throat. I might be too dramatic about the finish but when you get the kind of sensations Big Peat gives you at the start, you'll be a little bit disappointed on the way too quick aftertaste.

Never mind the quick finish. Big Peat must be the best blended malt there is! The nose and taste are just too good to worry about the finish. Containing spirit from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen, it was a peaty heaven for me. And for this one I don't recommend any added water, it ruins the taste.

Nose: Heavy on the smoke but smooth in other ways. Softly intense. Smoked ham. Warm and earthly, pure nature's product.

Mouth: Lots of peat and smoke and ash. The earthly feel continues with salt and some wee tobacco notes.

Finish: Quick salty smoke and peat. I think that even the 22 points are too much but then again it would lover the overall score too much...

Balance: Whining this much about the finish really tells me how much I love Big Peat. If the only bad thing about it is that it runs too quickly down your throat, it's not too big of a shame. You'll just have to run it more often.


Nose: On the nose this Islay blend of malts conjures images of campfires on the beach. It releases a smokey fragrance that warms the nostrils with peat and an unmistakeable sea breeze.

Colour: This malt is almost clear with the slightest, almost unnoticeable, tinge of yellow. A quick glance reveals a liquid almost identical to water.

Taste: Peat! Smoke! The gentle campfire on the nose has exploded! A gentle burn warms my tongue as a gentle glow travels down my throat. I can definitely taste the sea, with hints of seaweed and iodine, sea salt.

Finish: The slight fire heats my tongue briefly and quickly dissipates as it warms my tongue and throat. It does not last very long, but a subtle smokey flavour remains in my mouth a few minutes after my sip.

Overall: A very enjoyable whisky, with lots of peat and smoke (as its name suggests!). This is an unmistakable island malt given its smells and flavours of the sea. I am reminded of a cold night on the beach, and gentle warmth.


My first review will be Douglas Laing's Big Peat, a Vatted (blended) malt assembled from such distilleries as Bowmore, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and most importantly Port muthafuckin' Ellen. That's right, you better get on this soon because the magnificent Port Ellen distillery has been closed since 1983 and stocks can only go down.

Don't be put off with the label, it's very unconventional. Personally, I think it's totally badass. That bearded dude's hairdo is totally being blown away by this whisky.

Colour: Sufficiently-hydrated-urine-pale.

Nose: Heavenly! Despite the 46% ABV, it's very soft on the nose. Big peat (duh) along with a bit of vanilla and maybe some sugary/fruity notes?

Mouth: So soft and smooth, feels like blending velvet panties into a bottle. Defninitely lots of peat and smoke here. There is also a fresh grassy taste that transforms into an inoffensive rubbery touch. Also, some spices that remind me a bit of the Talisker 10.

Finish: There is a salty taste here that accompanies the smoke and peat. The grassy taste lingers a bit and slowly fades.

Conclusion: This is one hell of a whisky. I've tasted over 40 different bottles in my short Scotch experience and this one is definitely in my top 5. A total must for Islay fans.

TOTAL: 91/100


Can't argue that @chickenium. I'm into the last quarter of mine now and hoping to hell I can find another one here in BC. The Finlaggan cask strength is another good independantly bottled Islay and reasonably priced. Have you tried it?

@chiickenium really nice review. Right on it. For myself, I also get, both on the nose and palate, the flintstone notes that I love so much in the Ardbeg 10, but with way more fruits (maybe sweet red grapes). It's fantastic to have some red fruits that are not crushing the usual lemon, pear and herb notes of those pale Islay. Of course, I'm probaly not drinking the same batch, but I sure got myself a winner!


Full of sour, sweet smoke on the nose, yet very clear in colour. Some hints of spice (cinnamon?) too. The first taste is indeed, full of peat. Very long, very sweet, and very peaty and smoky. Though not very medicinal. A big scoop of salt kicks in as well. A hint of spice comes lingering through. Some hints of ammonia as well. The body is rich. The finish is warming and long, some sour hints, but the sweet smoke is above everything else.


The second whisky in our Peat tasting (after Bruichladdich Peat) is Douglas Laing's Big Peat. Big Peat contains whisky from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. Since its launch in 2009, the Big Peat has won numerous awards, including the Whisky Magazine best blended malt Scotch of 2010 and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible best blended malt Scotch of 2011 (with a score of 96). Less sweet than the laddy, this is a more traditional islay whisy and a lovely dram. However, it is not what you would call a kickass peaty dram. Rather, its a bit more grown up, and perhaps a little subtle. Personally, it loses a few points for this, but then I have no subtlety. I would like to taste their recent cask strength version, which I guess might press more of my buttons.

WTC Tasting Notes:

Nose: Unsalted butter. Sooty. Dry and bitter peat waiting to pounce. Taste: A bitter and dry peat explodes onto the palate before softening to a sooty and oaky bitterness at the end.



I have this bottle for several months now. I have tasted it initially and was disappointed, so I elected to let is rest for while after 3-4 drams. The air that fills the gap of the missing dram usually help to open up the whisky. I often find that the first dram of a bottle is not as good as the next dram taken few weeks later.

Let's talk about the whisky. It has opened up and was indeed very good. The Big Peat is a blended malt or vatted malt from Douglas Laing. They blend several Islay Single Malt together from the casks they don't want to bottled as a single malt. There is even some Port Ellen in it apparently. So for people that doesn't know, it is not a blended whisky as there is no grain whisky in it. It is made from single malts only, but they are from different distilleries. It is called a blended malt.

The nose: Peated yes, big ok, but not powerful. I found the nose a bit shy. You can feel the youth of the malts used to make it. There is sniff of new make, but on the other hand, in the background behind the peat, there is mature stuff (Port Ellen ?). Fruits, citrus and exotic fruits. There is a bit of vanilla also.

The mouth: Peated indeed. More powerful than the nose. Tarred peat. It is harder to go behind the peat, but there is still some fruits. It opens up with a few drops of water.

Finale: Long and peaty. It is probably young, but some mature stuff start to show themselves on the finale.

Balance: It is good, very peated but with the name it has, you can't tell that you haven't been warned. I found the nose very shy though.


Big Peat is a vatting of four Islay distilleries: Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and Port Ellen. The fact that it contains older whisky from Port Ellen, makes this an unusual offering. While other bottlers can’t afford to use Port Ellen in a vatting or a blend, for Douglas Laing it’s not a problem as they have one of the largest stocks of this legendary distillery.

Nose: a summary of Islay, with salty peat, some vanilla and a great aniseed note. Some mocha. Overall rather sweet with a big emphasis on tarry notes. On top of this, I get some youngish fruit like pear and peach, which reminds me of Ardbeg Rollercoaster in a way. Nice ambiguity of younger and older elements.

Mouth: very smokey and ashy. Quite explosive with a rubbery edge. Big peat indeed. Sweet liquorice and again some vanilla. Not much fruit here.

Finish: peat and smoke. Slowly drying.

A benchmark Islay vatting. You get heavy peat but a charming vanilla sweetness as well to round it off. A bottle should cost around € 40 which is very good value.


I tasted this blind and only afterwards found out which whisky I had tried. But it was clearly peaty, so I figured (correctly) that it was from Islay. It had a light body with fat tears.

The nose was peaty, but not overly so. It contained a little bit of smoked ham, flanked by a soft touch of iodine. But all so soft that it leaves you wanting for more. The nose remains – despite patience – closed. After the bottle was revealed, I couldn’t resist some feeling of disappointment. The nose does not reflect the label of ‘Big Peat’.

It does have a nice round mouthfeel, in which the peat and smokiness return more pronounced. Yes, this is the good stuff. A little bit of rubber, asphalt and something salty/sour that I cannot pinpoint. Kippers, maybe? Something medicinal as well.

The finish is rather long, warm and spicy. I like it.

When the bottle was revealed as Big Peat, I read on the label that it’s a Blended (previously 'Vatted') Islay Malt, bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered. It contains spirit of Ardbeg, Coal Ila, Bowmore and even Port Ellen! It’s well worth the approx. 40 EUR that you have to fork over for it. The nose is the weakness of this otherwise powerful dram.

I actually found this one a bit disappointing as well. As you mentioned the name 'Big Peat' is a bit too ambitious. It has been a while since I last tried it - I've got a bottle lying around somewhere - but I recall finding it a bit unbalanced. The different flavors didn't quite blend that well, but seemed to collide. Off course it's smoky and peaty, and you either love that or hate it, but this dram simply didn't live up to my expectations. Pity actually for the Port Ellen they used (wasted?) in it.

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