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Woodford Reserve

Average score from 21 reviews and 104 ratings 81

Woodford Reserve

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@markjedi1
Woodford Reserve

According to my sources, Woodford Reserve is triple distilled in copper pot stills. The mash bill contains 10% malted barley, 18% rye 72% corn. The distillery, which can be found in Versailles (Kentucky, USA, obviously not in France) belongs to Brown-Forman. The batches of the Distiller’s Select have some variation, but all are bottled between 42.2% and 43.2%. The one I am trying now is at the lower level.

Very soft and accessible nose on all kinds of fruit like plums, cherries and pears – I was not expecting that last bit – with loads of caramel and some toasted oak up front, while some soft spices and some wood glue join at the back. New leather too. After a few moments it turns a bit floral. Violets. Honey blossoms! I must say, I quite like this.

The body is good. The strength as well. The sweetness kicks in from the get-go – with the caramel in the lead and the fruit in second place – supported by a lovely spiciness. Think cinnamon, nutmeg and a little peppery note. Nice balance.

The finish is not bad either. Medium long, gently spicy with some roasted nuts at the death;

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. And very affordable as well.

@jack09

A miniature bottle of this at 45.2 % ABV was what got me into bourbon. I bought the larger 43.2 % ABV bottle based on my experience with the miniature. I have to say I enjoyed the miniature more than the larger bottle. But as an introduction to bourbon, it was ok, a stepping stone to better bourbons.

The mashbill is 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley, and it is triple distilled.

Color: nice honey gold, oily slow running legs

Nose: alcohol, honey, vanilla, maple syrup, caramel, sweet stewed apples and some oak, clove, pepper. The nose weakens a bit as you get to the last third of the bottle. I get a plasticy note which is unpleasant.

Palate: medium bodied, there is some alcohol burn up front, some roughness on the palate, a bit of an alcohol burn at the back of the throat, not too smooth. Peppery, cinnamon, rye spice, caramel, dry nutty note. When you get to the last third of the bottle, it becomes sweeter due to oxidization .

Finish: short to medium, pepper and butterscotch, sweet and mildly bitter finish.

This is a mid shelf bourbon, an intro to bourbon. However once you have it, you'll want to move on to different bourbons. I will not be buying this again.

@MuddyFunster

Woodford Reserve was the whiskey recommend to me by friends as a solid introduction to Bourbon. I bought a bottle and it has proved to be a difficult relationship so far. There are thing about WR that are growing on me, but the hard and harsh burn and hit on the first sip, is something I still cannot entirely get past.

Colour: Tawny sunset amber to clear brown in the glass, tawny brown in the bottle.

Nose: This is very bold. Lots of maple syrup, tree sap, raisin, prune, cake, banana, caramel, sweetness, touch of sherry, toasty and burnt/charred oak wood, maple wood, cedar wood, vanilla, burnt sugar and all spice in the nose. It's alluring at first, and complex, but every time I take a lingering deep breath, there's a hard alcoholic and slightly petrol like fume that overwhelms me. More complex and bolder than something like Buffalo trace, but also hard and raw.

Taste: As always the first hit of this is a hard and raw burn. Big hit of alcohol and spice, burn on the lips and you have to sit and wait for the hotness to subside and for the flavours to emerge. There's lots of spice, toasted oak wood, vanilla, then the sweetness of maple syrup, burnt sugar, caramel. I'm finding it hard to get past the booziness of this, to get to the flavours. It's just to hot on the palate.

Finish: This is hot for so long, you have to really wait for the finish. It's spicy, tree sap, vanilla, tangy, some prune and raisin. For a Bourbon with such a bold nose and punch the finish is surprisingly short. I'm struggling to pick out well defined rounded flavour. Too much of it is hot and spicy for me, and lacking balance.

I'll keep trying with this.

G

I am quite new to whiskey tasting and Jack Daniels acted as my gateway drug, so I thought I would begin by exploring different Bourbons. I recently brought a bottle of Woodford Reserve and have enjoyed it so much I thought I'd post my first review.

Initially I smelt a sweet, vanilla-y aroma and then I think I caught some honey too. As I tasted it, the initial hit was was citrusy and sharp, then it mellowed out into a fruity, smooth taste. I felt like it improved with every taste.

I really enjoyed Woodford Reserve and will be keeping my fledgling collection stocked with it! At £25 it was a pretty reasonable price too.

@jtotheesh

I have been a long time whiskey enjoyed, but never Sat down and took careful note of my whiskey experiences. Fortunately, the other night I had occassiom to really sit down and collect my thoughts. The whiskey I chose was Woodford Reserve, one of the whiskeys I tend to prefer out of my cabinet. The bottle has been open for well over a year.

I should say I welcome any critique or pointers on how to appropriate describe and note a whiskey, as I'm just beginning.

Nose: the onset is cool and refreshing. Cotton candy, wintergreen, followed by the always recognizably Woodford banana bread, deepening to lime. A deeper whiff reveals something complex and divine: perhaps a blue-raspberry oatmeal. There is some rubbing alcohol burn throughout, but not over-powering and often continues that "cool" wintergreen scent. this is the first whiskey I've written notes on but I have to imagine the nose to be among the fruitiest, most sweet and fun I will ever experience.

Taste: Has a hot kick to it and plenty of oakiness from the barrel. surprisingly different from the nose. Some vanilla and burnt apples. thin mouth feel. I find it tastes underwhelmingly flat and sour after such a promising nose.

Finish: peppery, smoldering wood. Unseasoned jerky. is "worms" even a possible taste? very little to no nuttiness or much quality to it, really. more of a "seltzery" aftertaste. It seems to linger for some time. It's an improvement to the unfortunate palate of this otherwise heartily enjoyable whiskey.

@hunggar

What a bottle! The contents aren’t bad either. This is one that’s grown on me a fair bit. It’s just a touch different than the other bourbons on my shelf, and it’s one I tend to reach for more in the summer. This is my fifth bottle of Woodford, and I like it more each time. My first review for this is a bit inadequate and outdated, so here's the re-take.

Nose: Butterscotch, pine, menthol, cinnamon, roasted honey, red apples, pears, overripe bananas, and allspice. Very fresh

Palate: Light bodied and grainy. Vanilla, maple, charred oak, Christmas cake, sweet sultanas, and menthol.

Finish: Medium finish. Oak, cedar, menthol, pine, pine resin, maple syrup, orange rind, citrus, cherry, and bitter chocolate. Again, quite grainy.

I really like this profile. It’s more high-pitched and grainy than most bourbons. Also, I’m a fan of how light and drinkable this is. It’s not thick or cloying, as bourbon can often be. An easy sipper with a unique profile and a fair bit of complexity. This bourbon is a nice alternative to, well, other bourbon.

It is interesting how differently people perceive things,...though clearly from having sampled different bottles. To me Woodford Reserve always seems thick, woody and low-pitched. Few bourbons seem particularly thick to me, but this is one of them. Others? Old Forester Signature, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, William Larue Weller, George T. Stagg, and some very old Willetts.

I am sampling some now to check my observations. What do I perceive? Yes, there is some high-pitched grain, but I see it set against very strong low-pitched wood flavours, AND THOSE ARE THE FLAVOURS WHICH I MOST NOTICE AND MOST STRONGLY REMEMBER. Need it be this way? No, of course not...it is just an idiosyncrasy of my individual perceptive faculties.

Keep on truckin', @hunggar!

I'm not a huge fan of Elijah Craig 12 year old either. For the price point here ($23) though, it is a relatively good bourbon that I don't mind keeping in stock. Obviously, my locale being next door to Kentucky gives me a great variety of bourbon to choose from. So Elijah is one of those kinda ehhh, take it or leave it bottles. Not going to turn my nose up to it, but not going out to stock up cases of the stuff in the event of a zombie apocalypse either! I will say that my last, now dearly departed bottle, definitely changed for the better after 3-4 months of air. The spices mulled and the wood took on much more depth and sweetness came out. I'm still waiting for my new bottle of Woodford to oxidize into top form.

@Nock

I have had this on a few occasions. My friend had a friend in graduate school (so yes, that is a friend of a friend) who was a bourbon snob. When he returned from his tour in Iraq my friend bought him a bottle of Pappy 20yo (this was back when you could still get your hands on it). Anyway, this friend of a friends’ go to bourbon was “Woodford Reserve.” So I have tried to give it a fair shake on a few occasions.

Nose: Biggest alcohol nose of the night (next to Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, and Evan Williams Black). More roasted apple (burned is more like it) with caramel glaze. Much deeper sweetness then Makers or Evan. With time it is all on perfume notes and plastic. Least favorite nose. Tone: contra alto.

Taste: Sweet sugar cane. Thinner then Makers but not as thin as Evan William Black labe.

Finish: Very much sweet corn and candied yams. Smallest and shortest finish . . . yup, round, short, and boring.

Balance, Complexity: Not terribly complex, however, it was balanced in the sense that it was a very singular note across the board.

Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: Lightest golden amber of the bourbons . . . nope in the glass it is just as dark as the Makers and perhaps darker. Very light bodied for a bourbon. It is a great bottle that looks super impressive and a very decent price. Love the aesthetic, and wish the bourbon was more to my liking.

Conclusion: This is a bourbon that bourbon lovers seem to love. I don’t love it. If find it flat, bland, and tame. Not my style. Maybe I am not a bourbon lover? I love some bourbons (Stagg, WLW, and ECBP). But, if this is a traditional bourbon style then I don’t love it. I am glad that there are bourbons I enjoy.

I think that it would be fair to say that "traditional style" "sipping" bourbons are very frequently enjoyed and sold at 45-50% abv, and that bourbons in that ABV range typically do not appeal to you. Clearly the bourbons that you like are typically at 62% abv and up...the more the merrier, thick, intense, hard-core beasts of bourbon.

Those are my favourite bourbons too, of course.

@Victor

Woodford Reserve is made at the Labrot & Graham Distillery, which is owned by Brown Forman. Other Brown Forman brands include Jack Daniels, Old Forester, and Early Times. The reviewed bottle # 10747 is from batch # 484. The reviewed bottle is 80% full, has been open for 2 years, and preserved with inert gas for the last 14 months

Nose: rich maple, vanilla, confectioner's sugar, oak, hickory, baking spices from rye grain...the nose has gotten richer with oxidation. A very rich and a very good bourbon nose

Taste: good translation to the palate, with anise/black licorice added. The degree of refinement of the flavours is good, but not excellent. The wood flavours are especially strong here. Personally I don't like the anise note

Finish: long and strong, with bitterness on the close

Balance: this is a good rich standard bourbon...I don't like the anise note and I most especially don't like the bitterness on the close. Bourbon should not be bitter. Bitterness in a bourbon is caused by substandard wood. With better wood this is easily a 90 point whiskey

p

Last night I was sipping some Slate bourbon. And it was great. I had it in a tasking glass and was enjoying it very much. But I can't do that with this whiskey, because it is too alcoholic.

Granted, it is a nice dram but it's not worth the money. With Scotch if you double the money you spend you really notice it. Not with [this] bourbon it seems. While I can taste that this bourbon is a cut above, say, a Wild Turkey, it's not much of a cut, it's not worth double the $$. Ill definitely go for a Wild Turkey next time.

But back to the alcohol. It perenially frustrates me it is the fashion to bottle whiskys at higher than 40% alcohol. I'm sure this can work with a more powerfully flavoured whisky - like some Islay malts, and maybe even something like Talisker - but it's just a pissing contest in my opinion, a marketing trap which many a 'connoisseur' is only too hyperventilatingly, arm-flappingly willing to fall into, convincing themselves that this whisky must be special. And because they're drinking it; hot-damn, they must be special too! Anyway, all of this leads to me sitting here with a whisky which tastes fine, don't get me wrong, but the nose, the aroma, is vile because all I can smell is alcohol.

p.s. Yes I know you can add water. Firstly, this is just a pain in the arse, and secondly wouldn't it be far better for the bottler to do this? That way they can add authentic pure water, and ensure they add the right amount....No, even it's from a marketing perspective they intended it to be drunk like this, and that was a mistake.

This review is just bizarre. You're probably the only person on Earth that wants the bottler to add more water, especially with Bourbon. Pretty much all 80 proof bourbon is watery enough for most people that they either avoid it entirely or mix it. Maybe whiskey isn't for you.

@hunggar

With my new found interest in bourbon, I decided that I’d grab a miniature bottle from my local booze peddler. Bourbon is not popular here in Taiwan. In fact, most shops don’t carry anything more than standard Jim Beam or Jack Daniels offerings. When I got to the store, I realized that I had literally tried all of the bourbon minis he had in stock, save one. I hadn’t heard of Woodford Reserve before, so I figured I’d give it a go. Here’s my take on it…

Nose: A particularly sweet nose on this one. Butterscotch, spearmint, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, roasted honey, and treacle. Some of the notes here, such as red apples, pears, overripe bananas, and spice, almost remind me of a sherry-matured scotch. The wisps of oak are quite musty, like a dusty, old, dry rocking chair that’s been sitting in an attic for a few decades. In a good way. Quite a nice nose overall.

Palate: The nose was quite sweet, but the palate is surprisingly bitter and spicy. Mouthfeel is quite thin for a bourbon. Even with a couple drops of water there’s some spicy tang to this. Tangerine, burnt vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, maple, and singed Christmas cake.

Finish: Medium finish. The spice lingers for a while. Musty oak. Spearmint and maple give this a lovely sweetness. In contrast, orange rind and bitter espresso offer a tart counterbalance. Good stuff.

I like this, but it’s not perfect. There are some lovely flavours in here, but it’s not the most balanced bourbon offering to be had. It jumps back and forth from sweet to bitter quite dramatically. Also, I usually prefer a thicker, richer mouthfeel. On a positive note, the nose here is particularly pleasant. I also like how the oak is presented. The spiciness is at times pleasant, and at times a bit rough around the edges. Never overly so. I’m used to spiciness in scotches, but it’s rarely this pronounced in a bourbon. While it may not win any awards for balance or smoothness, there is no doubt that this offers quite a rich and tangy flavour profile that is quite pleasant overall.

@hunggar, interesting to hear that you can't find much bourbon in Taiwan. @CanadianNinja tells me that Japan is teaming with bourbon and bourbon-drinking these days. Yeah, it sounds strange to me too, given their domestic malt industry.

There are quite a few bourbons which are spicy, generally the ones with the higher rye mashbills, but it is also true of many of the wheaters. Spice in bourbon can come from rye, wheat, or the wood itself. There are differing nuances of spiciness in the spicy flavours from each of those three sources, but they should be generally identifiable by source with practise.

I find Woodford Reserve to be very woody for a 'standard' bourbon. I've been sitting on tasting notes to do a review of this myself for awhile, and I expect to rate it at just about the same score as you did.

@Victor: As connosr's go-to bourbon authority, I'm sure you're right. But as you know, my experience is still quite limited, so I was a bit struck by the spicy notes in this dram.

Interesting to hear that they are popular in Japan. Whisky is SO popular in Taiwan, but every time I go into a whisky store here and ask about bourbon, I always get the same response. "Taiwanese don't really drink bourbon." Hopefully that will start to change soon.

On a more positive note, I recently found a different store with a slightly more respectable choice of bourbon. Elijah Craig 18 will likely be my next purchase. Looking forward to that one. ;)

B

Whiskey tasted neat.

Appearance: copper-toned.

Nose: Crisp and clean but with some richness to it as well. Some apple, butterscotch, a hint of nuttiness.

Palate: Bold butterscotch and maple sweetness balanced by mild spice (mainly cinnamon and pepper), light oak, and crisp green apple. Extremely smooth and easy to drink.

Finish: Medium-long and with a good mix of lingering sweetness, light spice and oak.

Overall Impressions: Very nice whiskey. Smooth, easy to drink, very little alcohol burn or astringency, and elegantly balanced flavours, but a little bit mild and lacking a bit of complexity. The finish was quite nice and is probably the highlight of this whiskey.

@bvburnes

Disclaimer: I'm not really a Bourbon guy.

There's definitely a sweetness to this dram on the nose and on the palate. My conundrum is this: without a splash of water, it's a bit aggressive for me but with water it's a bit too cloying.

I was very impressed with the body of the drink. It was nice and rich.

After tasting it a few times I've decided I prefer it neat. Not my favorite Bourbon, but way better than my least favorite.

m

This is the second Bourbon I've tried and let me say that I'm impressed. It's a well rounded Bourbon and at the price, simply cannot be beat! It's outstanding!

Nose: The nose on this Bourbon is intense. You really need to take your time with this one to fully appreciate it. Initially, the first thing wafting up my nose is fudge chocolate. After 10 minutes it completely changes. You can smell toffee, coco, cloves, nutmeg, floral notes, charred oak, varnish. Adding some water mellows it, now it's smelling of maple syrup.

Palate: It's a light to medium Bourbon and very smooth. Sweet palate initially. Has a tad bit of spice. There's some orange, cinnamon, bitter chocolate, butter with very burnt toast, and of course, an oak/woody taste.

Finish: It's a long finish. Your left with a floral aftertaste. This is accompanied by oak and an earthy taste. It's not oily like other whiskys, it's more as if your mouth is coated with butter. Your tongue is left dry and sticky rather than oily.

Overall quite enjoyable.

@GotOak91

I don't have lots of experience with America's defining liquor, Bourbon. After consuming Jim Beam White label, I strayed away from bourbon yet I came back for W.T. 101 which renewed my hopes in this quintessential American beverage but wasn't enough to make me buy bourbon until now.. Introducing Woodford Reserve Distillers Select..

Nose: A sweet nose; hints of brown sugar, oak, orange, and maple syrup. For some reason this nose reminded me of an assortment of syrups i.e. maple, simple bar syrup, and a tad bit of honey. Its not a sickly sweet its just different since I've been starting my scotch adventure and I haven't smelled anything this sweet.

Body:Full, rich, and smooth when I swirled this in my glencairn glass I had noticed thick and slow legs moving down the sides.

Taste: Spice (cinnamon and a little pepper), dark chocolate, oak, walnut, and Id go as far as saying banana bread. Hopefully that's not to far-fetched.

Finish: Long and lasting and a tad bit spicy. I taste rye and maybe a little herbal bitterness (mint?), it seems to break down into floral notes and things I cant quite put my tongue on. Relatively smooth, 6-7 years of spending in oak definitely helps. This can linger awhile on the palate if you let it.

Overall: A nice change in pace from scotch but I still have some unfinished business regarding it so I will be back at it soon.

P.S. I had decided to smell the empty glass for the first time and I had found it to be quite enjoyable. I found fall baking spices, vanilla, and maple syrup again very sweet almost liqueur- like. Still quite enjoyable..

Upcoming mini bottle No. 4 of 4 Barrel Proof: Wild Turkey Rare Breed

j

Batch 622, Bottle 02145. The 750ml bottle has a very interesting flatter shape. I drank this neat with a glass of water on the side. The nose is woody, sweet vanilla. Flavors I found were caramel, sugary maple syrup, nuts, and wood. I found this to be smooth overall but at times I had a slight burn going down. I was looking for something sweeter and this definitely fit the bill. This is a fine bourbon and overall I found this to be quite enjoyable.

@McGrain

Physically. It's a beautiful bottle. I want to believe I'll stick a candle in it or something when I'm done but I probably won't...the bourbon is dark and honeyed looking, very alluring. I love whisky bottles and the different shapes and sizes, but a part of me wishes every whisky came in one like this. Once you've had your first dram, put the stopper back in and tilt the bottle. The sound is the sound of whisky to me. If I was judging it purely on ear and eyes this would be a score of 100!

Nose: Tiramisu. Rum&Raisin ice-cream. Caramel.

Mouth:Minty, fruity, sweet but I can't put my finger on that sweetness. So lively in the mouth it almost seems to fizz for one half of a second. Then burnt brown sugar (maybe a little more than you'd want).

After:Caramel/toffee re-emerges. Warming, lasting, but a little bit to sweet for my Scottish palate.

c

This was my first bottle of Bourbon I bought and I bought another because I enjoy it very much. I wanted an alternate to the peated whiskies I normally drink and I heard they use copper stills (we don't know how much of that spirit is in the standard bottling).

I love bourbons mainly because I love oak and burning wood (like the toasted / charred casks bourbon is aged in). The nose is very floral and very perfumed, slightly overwhelming at first until you let it air out. Very nice smells and it is very fresh smelling. The arrival is paced, delicious and incredibly smooth. The amount of filtration used in bourbon and the corn based mash makes for a smooth and sweet delivery of sugar, oak and a clean spirit.

As the bottle gets consumed the perfume notes are tamed and the oak really comes through. The finish is medium to long, clean and crisp.

I highly recommend this but I will warn that this is not a normal bourbon. I didn't get the thick vanilla and spices and charred oak flavours like I do in Bulleit and Makers Mark. If you are looking for a traditional bourbon experience, this isn't it in my opinion.

After drinking more and more of this the thin mouth-feel just bothers me a LOT. Score kinda drops to 80/100 lately and it's not worth the $47 in Ontario. Should be $35. Four Roses Single Barrel is $45 and twice the whisky this is. Still good and in fact tastes almost identical to Glenkinchie.

@dannyboy

This bottle was an interesting experience for me. I picked it up a year ago when it was on sale ridiculously cheap. I'd heard great things from friends and online, so I didn't hesitate to pick it up. Imagine my surprise when I tried it, and all I tasted was a sickly syrupy sweetness and harsh alcohol without much else going on. Well, I hadn't spent a lot on the bottle, so I was just a bit disappointed that this whiskey that everyone else had told me was great, was a huge let-down for me.

Anyway, once in a while I'd try another dram, even mixing up some old-fashioneds, but it always just had too much full-on sweetness to be enjoyable. After half a year (and half the bottle), I resigned to banishing it to the back of the cupboard and using it for cooking someday. In the end it actually made a really nice Bourbon BBQ Sauce! Then, when there were only a couple of drams left in the bottle I decided to give it a last chance, mainly to compare it with the Elijah Craig 12 which I've been loving over the last few weeks. Another surprise: it tasted good! Not as good as the Elijah Craig, but definitely enjoyable and nothing like what I remembered. Now, this bottle had been sitting with only a small amount left, in warm weather, for a few months. I wonder if some of those harsh alcohol flavours evaporated and the sickly sweetness mellowed due to this. Or did my perception of bourbon change since enjoying the Elijah Craig so much? Who knows, but it was certainly an eye-opener!

Here are my notes(from the final tasting!):

Nose: Custard, charred oak, stewed apples. Toasted almonds, coconut. Ripe bananas.

Palate: Sweet, light fruitiness. Bakewell tart. Maple syrup, bittersweet oakiness. Maybe some bitter almond?

Finish: Brown sugar, dried apple, nutmeg. Sweet oaky vanilla.

In summary, quite a sweet bourbon with ripe fruits and maple syrup featuring more than oak or spice.

J

Deep rich golden colour. The nose is loaded with vanilla and toffee as well as some sweet oak. Burnt sugar and some lovely light fruitiness. A little bit of white pepper and a touch of mintiness on the back. Silken palate with some lovely light floral character as well. Makes a fine julep as well.

m

The nose is immediately filled with the wafting of vanilla and some floral sweetness. As with all my American bourbons I prefer to serve on an ice cube with a rest before tasting to allow the cube to melt a bit.

I'd imagine this would go well with the right meal like a simple grilled steak or other cut of beef. Smoother than Maker's Mark and a great first whiskey for the beginning palate.

I just sampled this for the first time this past week. This is the kind of bourbon I could come to appreciate daily. Smooth and sweet were my first impressions. I think I might just try this tonight.

@WhiskyNotes

Nose: tons of vanilla with beautiful undertones of cedar wood, varnish and peppermint. Almonds. Crême brûlée. Some pear. There’s even a hint of charcoal. It’s very rich and certainly has an individual character, different from other bourbons. Mouth: immediately woody (maybe a tad too much, slightly tannic) and spicy. Mint again. Burnt caramel and maple syrup. Something metallic as well (like licking a battery). A little tobacco towards the finish. Finish: sweet and spicy. Echoes of vanilla. Medium length.

I won't add a full review, as I agree with most of the nose and mouth observations above. I must say that I have never tasted anything remotely metallic in WR; that mystifies me. For my palate, I've tasted no better bourbon. I would have given it a solid 8, but this is indeed a unique bourbon. Likely it isn't the favorite of everyone, but it sure is for me!

I recently received a one-liter bottle as a gift, but it has a higher ABV. Mine is 45,2% and it's a batch 122, bottle 02235. I'll give it a try soon.

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