15yo Pussers rum review

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JaRiMi
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Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:52 pm

I tasted this rum quite some time ago, but got back to it tonight and thought I would post a review here. I would recommend
this rum to anyone who wishes to taste a rum that is somwhat "old school" in it's style.

Nose:
Strong, filled with roasted molasses. Raisiny, with strong brandy-like aroma, intensely fruity. slight leathery note. Astoundingly rich.

Taste: Aromatic, rich beyond most rums; softer than what the nose would lead one to expect. Very rich and intense flavour, indeed "old-fashioned". Some "rancio" notes, raisiny, layered. The different rum nations used to make this authentic navy recipe rum are revealing themselves one after another; firstly Jamaica, with it's strong dunder aroma, then the Guyanese demerara arrives, with its leathery and raisiny notes; and in the aftertaste I definitely taste some Trinidadian heavy style rum, leaving the mouth with an oily note. Slight oakiness steps in.

Aftertaste: Incredibly rich, oaky and raisiny, burned molasses. Oak.

Comments: The wooden stills that they use apparently still either in Virgin Islands or in Guyana are amongst the wonders of the World, even though they must of course repair the wooden structures when needed. The makers of this rum claim to have over 200 years old wood still in place in their ancient wooden pot still unit.

The bottle states "Made in Trinidad", although the original Navy rum was a blend of all different British major rum-making colonies, including Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and British Virgin Islands, it seems. Perhaps the final blending work is done in Trinidad, in accordance to the original Navy rum recipe.

This is an astounding rum - I would deeply recommend it to any rum enthusiasts. An amazing experience.
Last edited by JaRiMi on Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:14 am

I recall someone using the term 'rancio' before but what I don't recall what it meant. Google definition suggests nutty flavour or "desirable aroma of rancid butter and mushrooms, accented by notes of dried fruits and touches of raisins and nuts."

I'm not sure how rancid butter could be desirable :hsughw:. Your rum reviews are great by the way.
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Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:53 pm

It is well to note that Pusser's (short for "purser", distributor of the ration) is claimed to be made from the same formula as the British Royal Navy rum, since about 1805 I recall. Still made in "J's" very, very old wooden stills, which like antique urinals, no doubt leads to his "astounding" aromas and flavors. The basis for "rancio".

I kid! I love good old Pusser's Blue Label. And the 200 year old wooden stills are irreplaceable. A great classic rum that should be owned by one and all.

According to Pusser's it is a blend of five West Indian rums whose exact formula remains a secret (you would have to be shipped cross Atlantic in a barrel of rum if I told you). But reliable sources report that the formula is largely Guyanese, with Trinidad rum a substantial second, and three others in much lesser amounts. It is a classic that will kick you in the face, regardless of whether you buy the blue or red. Some call them "brutal" but in a good way. Not for Zacapa lovers.

Interestingly, the 15 year (red label) is only 80 proof, while the classic blue label - the real stuff - is currently 84 proof. And boy does Pusser's know how to market. Their decanters are to die for and a rich addition to your rum shelf.

Our review: Linked Here.
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JaRiMi
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Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:51 am

Some of the blue label Pusser's rum is bottled at 54%, known as the "ignition strength" - read below:

"The rum used to arrive in England at 140 degrees overproof after which it was reduced to 95.5 degrees underproof by having water added to it. A small amount of the mixture was poured over some grains of gunpowder and then a magnifying glass was used to ignite it. If the burning alcohol managed to stay alight then it was said to be "proof". And if it didn't light then it was underproof. If it exploded then it was overproof. Proof spirit today is legally defined as that which has a specific gravity of 12/13 (92.3 percent) at 51ºF, and of course they don't do the gunpowder/magnifying glass test any more."

Borrowed text from http://www.axfordsabode.org.uk/spirit.htm.

The 15yo is a far more mellow version, but the added age brings in finesse and control.

Thank you Count for the nice words, I think rum reviews are something that people may be interested in reading also (hopefully), I will try and continue posting them.

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Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:02 pm

I love the Pussers. As an Englishman with family naval traditions I believe it may be in my blood. Great review old boy!

Interestingly, there isn't any Jamaican rum in the Pussers blend anymore I understand. Although I don't blame you for picking out a Jamaican style pungency in the tasting

JaRiMi
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Thu Aug 07, 2008 7:10 pm

paulipbartender wrote:I love the Pussers. As an Englishman with family naval traditions I believe it may be in my blood. Great review old boy!
Thank you Sir, I hope that the reviews will especially be useful to people who haven't tried the rums.
Interestingly, there isn't any Jamaican rum in the Pussers blend anymore I understand. Although I don't blame you for picking out a Jamaican style pungency in the tasting
This is very interesting bit of information, because if it is correct, it makes me question the authenticity of the followed recipe. The original Navy Rum most certainly was a blend of British Caribbean isle rums; and to my understanding it definitely contained Jamaican rum.

Please do not misunderstand - I am not saying yes or no here, because I simply do not know what is the status of the current blend; but I am quite certain (99%) that the old, original recipe calls for Jamaican rum. And yes, I thought for sure that I detected the pungent flavour in there. I wonder if there's any source that could find out more about this matter?

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Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:43 pm

I have sent an enquiry, JaRiMi. By the way I just noticed the Pussers 15 YO bottle looks remarkably like the Mahiki rum bottle and the Monkey Shoulder Whiskey bottle. Is there a new trend afoot?
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JaRiMi
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Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:20 am

Well, it certainly seems that these shorter, plumb bottles are the latest rage. Bruichladdich bottles are quite similar also.

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paulipbartender
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Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:15 am

At the turn of the last century Naval rums contained a small measure of every rum producing nation in the Empire. Including, supposedly, an appalling South African rum that they had to use in the tiniest measures to avoid spoiling the blend.

Now it's much simpler and there isn't any Jamaican anymore

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Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:58 pm

Pussers 15 Year Old


Appearance

Golden brown, nice clarity. Slightly viscous legs leave a thin trail that vanishes as soon as it was created.

Nose

The aroma is very pungent and heavy with fruits and spice. Aromas of banana, other fruits, caramel, molasses and spicy cinnamon mingle with eachother. Intriguing is a light tea aroma that rises from the middle of the mingling aromas. The alcohol is slightly tickling and stingy.

Taste

Like JaRiMi says the incredibly rich flavours come in layers beginning with wood and fruits with a hint of banana quickly followed by increasingly heavy rancio note that is mixed with smoke.

Aftertaste

Not very long. Fading rancio, sweetness and butter, oak and tea.

Final thoughts

This is a rum I've wanted to try for a long time. Very interesting though I think the rancio is maybe a bit too much for my personal taste preferences but nevertheless its a good rum and an interesting experience. Certainly stands out among the other rums by having a refreshingly different taste profile.

Note: The flavour profile could indeed be described as old school or old world. That is what it reminds me of.
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Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:57 pm

Sounds delicious. Perhaps the day will come when I will acquire the 15 year. In the meanwhile, I'd like to comment about "rancio" which may have been described above as "Rancio is a flavor found in old cognacs, best described as earthy, mushroomy, lactic, and perhaps a hint of soy sauce".

I found a thread at EGullet where the writer, along with Paul Pacult tasted 13 very old scotches, along with some old cognacs and found "rancio" in most of them. It was proposed this was the result of very old age and oxidation in the bottle. In cognac this effect apparently is desired, not so much in scotch, though it is there. Very old rums were mentioned.

Now it may be that "rancio" is indeed what other poster have referred to in Jamaican rums, but I'm not so sure. I have noted this extremely pungent and memorable effect in Wray & Nephew's Overproof, Pusser's Blue, and also in Jack Tar. And to a lesser degree in Appleton 12. It should be noted that two of these are rather young, and none can be fairly called "very old". And if "rancio" develops from very long aging then we have a problem, Houston!

I would offer that perhaps what we are calling "rancio" - and that is a perfect name - may really be simply the effect of the long fermentation and dunder unique to the wonderful Jamaican rums. Indeed, I have come to call this aroma "dunder" in my notes. What say you?
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JaRiMi
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Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:19 pm

English language is a wonderful thing!! I know some websites use the word "pungency" when talking of rancio. The truly pungent, powerful flavour found in most Jamaican rums (especially younger ones) is nowhere near what I'd call rancio notes, that's for sure. However even old Tawny port wines (30 yo and such) can have flavours which I'd describe as rancio. Old and musty, overripe, very sweet but also rich like a good stilton, fermented and raisiny, chinese plumb wines kept in funny old chinese claypots for too long.

Nothing to do with pungent, at least not in my tasting notes (?) - pungent would go towards use of dunder and such. Appleton 12 I have tasted, didn't feel there was any rancio IMHO, but pungency, yes - same as in Appleton extra actually, some pungency there too. Overproof rum - I've tasted J. Wray & Nephew's white overproof, no rancio there IMHO - but hard stuff even diluted..wouldn't recommend sipping this in any case.

I would not describe rancio as soy sauce (?!?) or mushrooms personally, but each to their own - and this one single description given by bartender Gary Regan seems to be somewhat overquoted in internet today.

Rancio from different internet sources:

http://www.cognac-frapin.com/uk/cognacs/CigarBlend.asp

FRAPIN’s 100% Grande Champagne CIGAR BLEND

Served at room temperature, it displays the famous “Rancio” (the special aroma of old Cognacs). Flavours of walnuts, hazelnuts and dried fruit combined with dried flowers are typical of this “rancio”.

............................

http://www.epicurious.com/tools/winedic ... ry?id=7666
"rancio

A style of wine made by purposefully OXIDIZING or MADERIZING it by placing small barrels of wine in the hot summer sun. This procedure gives the wine a tawny color and a rich, unique flavor. Rancio wines are usually either naturally very high in alcohol or FORTIFIED. The results are similar to MADEIRA, tawny PORT, or MARSALA. Rancio wines are made throughout Spain, as well as in southern France. They're usually sipped as an APÉRITIF."

...................

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... i_63693748

"No, your scotch hasn't gone bad; brandylike rancio is in whisky, too
Nation's Restaurant News, July 17, 2000 by Gary Regan

A few years ago I wrote about finding the flavor of rancio in old, singlemalt scotches and it stirred up quite a controversy in the cognac, armagnac and calvados industry.

Rancio is a desirable flavor in well-aged fruit-based brandies, but it's very hard to define. I read somewhere that it's an "earthy, cheesy, mushroomy" flavor. Personally, I would add soy sauce to that list, but it's a flavor that, until you've tasted it a few times, is hard to understand.

When I wrote about this flavor being present in well-aged malts, my hypothesis was that for years, people writing about whisky had mistaken rancio for "off" notes that were described as being "woody." While it's an undeniable fact that some whiskies deteriorate after spending too long a time in the barrel, I still contend that woodiness is sometimes confused with rancio.

Many people who evaluate whiskies simply aren't familiar with rancio, and those who have detected this flavor in brandies usually just don't look for it in whisky. I stumbled across the phenomenon after sampling a 40-year-old malt, which contained a flavor I couldn't describe. After talking to Paul Pacult, a friend and fellow spirits writer who had undergone similar problems identifying one particular flavor in the same scotch, I suggested it could have been rancio.

The bottling in question sold for $7,000, and we had both been treated to about 1 ounce at a press tasting. There was no chance of our coughing up the money for a whole bottle so we had to find a way to prove or disprove the theory. We ended up asking various distilleries to send us samples of their oldest whiskies so we could evaluate them. Luckily for us, 13 companies complied with our request. Six of those extra-aged whiskies showed signs of rancio.

This subject has fascinated me ever since, and I've been in touch with many spirits companies to ask their opinions on the matter. It wasn't until recently, however, that I came across some conclusive evidence that in some of the old malts rancio does, indeed, exist.

A few months ago I e-mailed Alexandre Gabriel, a French cognac, armagnac, calvados and gin producer. Gabriel's products are consistently superlative, and we exchange e-mails every now and again to discuss spirit-related subjects. This time I asked him what he knew about rancio.

As coincidence would have it, Gabriel recently had hired scientists to discover the chemical make-up of rancio. They had broken down some of his brandies using a gas chromatograph -- a complicated process that pinpoints each different molecule in a spirit. They were able to figure out which molecules were resp onsible for the rancio flavor since certain components occurred only in the bottlings in which rancio could be detected on the palate.

The next step was to send some scotch to Gabriel's laboratory so it could undergo the same experiment. After arranging to ship to France a 31-year-old bottling that I believed contained rancio, I sat and waited for news. I received e-mail from Gabriel on June 19 that told me rancio was, in fact, present in the whisky he'd received.

This all might sound like mumbo jumbo to many readers, but personally I find it fascinating. When a cognac is found to have rancio, it becomes quite a desirable spirit. The same applies to calvados and armagnac, but I believe that this flavor never before has been proved to exist in a grain-based spirit like scotch. Although I've detected this flavor in scotches as young as 21 years old, I suggest that if you want to experience rancio, seek out bottlings that are more than 30 years old. It certainly isn't present in every bottling of that age, but sooner or later you'll taste the earthy, lactic flavor that's the pride of many brandy makers and now has been proved present in some single-malt scotches."

................

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15058007

Document title
Analysis of microvolatiles in brandy: relationship between methylketone concentration and Cognac age

Author(s)
WATTS Vivian A. (1) ; BUTZKE Christian E. (1) ;

Author(s) Affiliation(s)
(1) Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, ETATS-UNIS

Abstract

Headspace solid phase microextraction and gas chromatographylmass spectrometry were used to identify and quantify four odd-numbered methylketones in commercial Cognac brandies. These ketones are in part responsible for the desirable and complex characteristic called 'rancio charentais' or 'Cognac rancio' which is found in grape brandies aged in oak barrels for several decades. The ketones 2-heptanone, 2-nonanone, 2-undecanone and 2-tridecanone form through β-oxidation and decarboxylation of long-chain fatty acids originating from yeast metabolism. The concentrations of these ketones increased with Cognac age classification in the 42 brandies analysed, and 2-heptanone was present at the highest concentration in most samples. The average concentrations and rates of formation decreased with increasing chain length. Total concentrations ranged from 21 to 328 μg l-1. The esters propyl octanoate and ethyl octanoate followed the same trend as the methylketones and appear to play an additional role in the formation of the rancio character.
Revue / Journal Title
Journal of the science of food and agriculture ISSN 0022-5142 CODEN JSFAAE

...................

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA ... 83,00.html

Like its younger VSOP cousin, Hine Antique is also a Fine Champagne Cognac. The average age of the blend is 20 to 25 years old. This Cognac too possesses a great deal of fruitiness, Hine says, but there is on the nose and palate an additional note of rancio, which gives it a certain pungency or nuttiness. (The word rancio is most often used in describing the flavor of Sherry or certain kinds of dessert wines.)

......................

http://www.maltmaniacs.org/ADHD/mm17b.html

...an excerpt from the page:

Charlie - Interested to hear about the 'tropical fruits', 'maggi' (is this the food flavouring, Johannes?) and 'celery'...
My trigger-descriptor for an old whisky, nosed blind, is 'rancio'. But I am not sure exactly what rancio is or smells like! I know the term is used by brandy makers, and the aroma esteemed, but I am probably using the wrong word. Can anyone advise - Olivier, Serge?

Johannes - Yes, Charlie - Maggi is the liquid food flavouring I mentioned last year on Islay.
I've seen it in Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. It's mostly used in soups I think, quite salty and not unlike soy sauce. Sometimes a bit meaty - and like celery as well. The next time you're in Campbeltown and they take you to that tasting room behind the Cadenhead's / Springbank corner store, pull a leaf from the celery plant next to the door to the patio and rub it between your fingers - you'll get a slightly 'fresher' version of the aroma I now associate with 'antiquity'. Is that 'Rancio'?

Serge - Oh my God,
We could go on just on Maggi! Johannes, are you suggesting there's this kind of celery in Maggi? In fact, I always thought Maggi did contain lots of lovage (it's that plant, right?) because it just smells the same. But there's none! Actually, I think Maggi is primarily made out of soy sauce. Now, if you go towards 'antiquity', you'll also find 'old books' (I know Craig loves that), antiques shop, furniture polish, old clothes (wardrobe), maybe beehive in a certain way...

Charlie - In old bottles - whiskies made pre WWII, and bottled then, or in the 1950s - I have often detected 'sandalwood'. Of course, I don't know whether the mature make had this aroma, or whether it developed in the bottle, but I suspect the former. Wherever it came from, it is delicious, and only occasionally found today - and that in very old whiskies.

Serge - Rancio is perfect as a descriptor and spot-on.
The word itself comes from 'rancid' as you guessed it, although it's not negative. Rancios are red wines that are (well, were because it's really out of fashion - a shame if you ask me) matured in contact with oxygen, which gave them these smells and tastes of 'oldness', sometimes close to Madeira. They don't, I believe, count on a 'yeast veil' like with some white wines (dry sherry, vins jaunes etc.) Rancios are/were made in Spain and South of France, and buggers would say they can last for very long, as they are already oxidised. Winemakers often leave the casks under the sun to provoke the 'maderization' (oxidising). If I had to add descriptors that would describe 'rancio', I'd say soy sauce, meat sauce, Chinese plum sauce (they serve it with Peking ducks), balsamic vinegar, 'genuine' cocoa and yes, Johannes' Maggi. You could add for instance old walnuts but that's more characteristic of dry sherries etc.


Johannes - YES, Serge!!!
I should have mentioned soy sauce / oyster sauce as well. In fact, it's near to the 'oriental spices' group in my mind as well.
So, I'd say we're definitely talking about the same thing then. Very nice - I've found a 'click' with some other people's tasting notes. Meanwhile, this is turning into a very interesting discussion - and I actually wrote a column about this very same topic for 'Whisky Etc.' The conclusion of that piece: 'The jury is still out on whether the fact that old bottles are often 'different' lies in 'bottle aging' or different ingredients and / or production methods in the past'. Maybe this discussion will deliver some answers... Maybe we could even try to reach some sort of consensus (if at all possible) about the importance of each of the ingredients / steps in the production process for the end result. I know that will be tough - and possibly a fool's errand - but the discussion alone would be intriguing I think. But let's not get ahead of ourselves... back on topic: with the range of aroma's Serge described in relation to 'ranchio' - are there others who link this to possible 'bottle aging'?

............

I think we can assess that there is no perfect way to describe rancio - and that everyone experiences this slightly differently.

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Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:44 am

J... this is an amazing post, really brilliant! Many thanks. Oddly enough, as a result of my interest in "rancio", I started to develop a file of snippets and found many of the same as you. You found quite a few more though, and I will add them to my file until I have more time to consider these.

But let's get back to the Jamaican's. Particularly the W&N Overproof, Jack Tar and also the Pusser's Blue (although this may not be Jamaican). All have this unusual aroma - yes, it is pungent - but I find myself trying to go further. I want to note some sourness, an overdone ripeness, an intensity, a leatheriness - but these all hit around the mark. All of the named rums have this unique element. When I hear the term "rancio", from rancid, it seems to fit. As do some of the descriptions. Yet "rancio" appears to emerge with very great age, and the named rums are all relatively younger.

Let's talk about the Jamaican process a bit. First is the very long fermentation, up to two weeks (versus 24 - 48 hours). Dave Broom reports this is typical in Jamaica, and results in a very concentrated ferment with around 500 esters. He reports the fermenter is filled with molasses, cane juice and dunder which has actually been left to putrefy in "mock" pits. It is highly acidic. The dunder pit contains very concentrated acids.

The smell is described as sour and rotten. Some of the mock pits have never been emptied!

Distillation in Jamaica aims to preserve and even concentrate these esters and sour/rotten components. This high ester rum is really pretty unique in the world of rum, but Broom states it is also made by a few distillers in Guyana and one in Martinique.

Other descriptors include a combination of nail-polish remover, glue and decaying banana.

The similarities to "rancio" cannot be ignored. The difference seems to be the process. In "rancio" this unique aroma results from very, very long oxidation in the bottle, where in what I call the similar "dunder" aroma results from oxidation in the mock pits (remember, some of these are thirty years old!).

These effects may be more similar than we think...
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JaRiMi
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:21 am

It is true what you said, and it would be very interesting if some chemistry-skilled people would inspect rums for the same chemical compounds found responsible for the rancio notes in cognac or whisky. Who knows, maybe due to process they develop similar and sooner in rum?

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Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:56 pm

Clearly arrived very late for the show here.

New member and very much impressed with the vocabulary.

IMHO, the rancino notes within the younger rums are due to the addition of the aged dunder.....
Or more specifically the dunder that has been infected/cultivated with Saccharobutyricum.

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Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:18 pm

"IMHO, the rancino notes within the younger rums are due to the addition of the aged dunder.....
Or more specifically the dunder that has been infected/cultivated with Saccharobutyricum."


The only reference I can find to the Saccharo.. is from Gomez' fine thesis on rum. In it, he/she shows no correlation to "rancio"; it should also be recognized that this bacteria is considered a natural contaminent, one that distillers try very hard to eliminate or minimize by various treatments.

However, as is well hidden in a couple of earlier posts I would certainly agree that dunder-based rums have a "rancio like note". But as both JaRiMi and I found, spectrographic analysis of very, very old spirits actually identified the element "rancio". My crackpot theory - that perhaps the rancio element may also be created due to the great age of some dunder or mock pits - remains just that.
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lwtcs
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Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:24 am

Capn Jimbo wrote:The only reference I can find to the Saccharo.. is from Gomez' fine thesis on rum. In it, he/she shows no correlation to "rancio"; it should also be recognized that this bacteria is considered a natural contaminent, one that distillers try very hard to eliminate or minimize by various treatments.
Mr. Arroyo references Saccharro use as part of his proceeedure.


No matter. I surely do like your point of view and very much appreciate the depth of your experience.

Capn Jimbo, have you any photos of any dunder pits taken during your travels?

Thanks
LT
Spitting in the dunder pit when all eyes are elsewhere.

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