Nicaraguan cigars

E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo

Years ago, and I mean a decade ago, I joined a cigar forum/board called Club Stogie and it was a fountain of knowledge and friendships. But then some investor bought the place and two other boards, fused them together to puff.com and the vibe was gone, it sucked so I was happy that the 11 Club Stogie moderators decided to start their own new boars, Cigar Asylum and I’ve been a member since day one, somewhere in 2008.


Now because of all the friendships made there me and another Dutch member got the idea to do a roadtrip and when we talked about that on the board 2 Florida based botl’s said they wanted to join in. So in the spring of 2009 we flew to Orlando, picked the other guys up and started on an epic road trip all along the east coast, from Key Largo all the way up to Rochester, NY  with a herf every single night, and then we flew to Las Vegas for the final chapter of the trip. Over 30 people flew from all over the US to Vegas to herf with us those days. Andrew Wood from GDW Cigars, who’s also responsible for the Don Fernando cigars, Reserva Miraflor and Goviada, had a special batch and blend made for the Vegas days called ELVIS, which stood for Epic Las Vegas International Smoke. And I have a few of these cigars left.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the cigar except the looks because I don’t know anything about the blend. And it’s been years since I smoked one so I don’t even know what it tasted like anymore. All I can tell you is that the cellophane started to discolor and that the cigar feels like velvet when I take it out of the cello. The cigar has a medium brown color and a few veins. The top of the torpedo is well finished and the construction feels good. The strong is quite strong for an 8 year old cigar and reminds me of hay and horses. Then the ring, well, it was just a small batch, not for retail purposes so the print quality isn’t super high, but hey, most companies, especially the small ones, wouldn’t even put a ring on for the occasion, and the ring is cool. Its a black and white Elvis but the middle part is turned around, I mean, the top and the legs of Elvis are in black on a white background his torso is white on a black background and in golden lettering it says ELVIS 2009 and then in black Las Vegas Cigar Asylum. Pretty cool right, if you were there.


It’s a torpedo so punching is not an option so it’s butterfly cut time. The cold draw is good and I taste some raisin but then I get a strong pepper on my lips. I taste a strong sweet coffee flavor. After a centimeter the sweetness is strong with some pepper and a little bit of coffee and leather. After an inch I taste a mild chocolate flavor with some pepper. Halfway I taste a metallic flavor, some wood and a lot of pepper and still that sugary sweetness. Near the end the pepper gains more strength.


I would like to see the smoke thicker and more in volume. The draw is perfect. The ash is gray, dense and firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied, full flavored, well balanced and with a good evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Thats impossible

Score: 91
91

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Categories: 91, E.L.V.I.S., Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guayacan Maduro Robusto

In 2013 Noel Rojas, blender and owner of Guayacan and of the Tabacalera New Order of the Ages factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, showcased his Guayacan Maduro at the IPCPR trade show but the cigar never got released due to inconsistency in the tobacco. A year later, July 2014, he showcased it again in a slightly different blend with Nicaraguan tobacco and a Mexican San Andres wrapper and that cigar did hit the market. The cigar were made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory, owned by Rojas back then before he moved on to his new factory after leaving the distribution deal with House of Emilio too. I met Noel in person in Esteli in May 2015 and his cigars are available on the Dutch market because of my involvement. I reviewed the Guayacan Habano earlier this year and I also reviewed some private labels made by Noel Rojas for others like the Kilo made for Barry Stein and Jas Sum Kral made for Riste Riatevski.


Before I got Noel a distribution deal in The Netherlands with my then (and now previous) employer Noel send me a few boxes of cigars as a sampler, most of which I handed out to my employer and some of our regular customers to get their impression but of course I kept a few for myself and in hindsight I should have kept more. The cigar that I’m smoking is a 5×50 robusto that comes wrapped in cellophane. Once I get the cigar out of the cellophane I see a beautiful almost very dark wrapper with a very fine tooth and my mouth starts to water as my brain thinks of a chocolate bar. There are no big veins visible. The construction feels good and the cigar has a pretty triple cap. The ring is also a piece of art, the edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma mixed with wood, I don’t smell any ammonia.


I punched the cigar and find the cold draw to be great. I taste dry raisin with pepper. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. Instantly I taste coffee. It’s not a bitter coffee but a nice coffee with spices. Soon after chocolate joins the spiced coffee. The flavors are very dry, guess I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The flavors remind me of autumn.


After a third I taste wood, autumn leaves and a tiny bit of cocoa. The cigar still gives me a dry mouth. Halfway the cocoa changes into a flavor that reminds me of chocolate paste that you use on a slice of bread. There is also a little sweetness from the Maduro wrapper and warm spices. On the background I also taste some macadamia nuts. After two thirds the chocolate changes back to cocoa powder with the leaves and some spices. There is a nice pepper in the aftertaste without becoming to overpowering. At the final puffs I taste some nuts again with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, close to perfect. The smoke is medium thick and I would have liked to see thicker smoke and more of it. The burn is sharp and leaves a white ash. The ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with a decent amount of evolution and a good balance.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like it but I like the Habano better.

Score: 92

92

Categories: Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius

I used to work for the Dutch distributer of Casa Magna, next to the Casa Magna Colorado we also carried the Honduran made Casa Magna Oscuro and the Casa Magna Domus Magnus Primus and Optimus and they sold, except for the oscuro. The Domus Magnus I smoked a lot too, great cigar for a great price. We even introduced it at the first Dutch Big Smoke in 2010. Fast forward to 2014, Quesada released a second Domus Magnus year with a few new sizes including this Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius but they weren’t on the international price list so we couldn’t order them.


A year later I went to Nicaragua with Marcel Langedijk and Jesaja Hutubessy, a journalist and a photographer for the book Cigaragua they wanted to publish and I was the one that arranged the whole trip. If you write a book about Nicaraguan tobacco and cigars you cannot ignore the Plasencia family so even though we didn’t do any business with them I made an appointment. During our meeting there Nestor Andres Plasencia handed me a Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius and explained me that the strange shape actually came from a Bic lighter, they made a mold out of the shape of the lighter to make this 6×54 figurado and they used nothing but Nicaraguan tobacco. I lit the cigar and fell in love.


Right after I returned from the trip we needed to place an order at Quesada, I requested the latest international price sheet and again, no Domus Magnus II mentioned so I started to push a little and within a few days Raquel Quesada got me prices and we placed a big order for The Netherlands. Now the cigar looks good, it has a medium brown wrapper, like dark oak, with a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the wrapper looks nice with some marbling and hardly any veins. The cigar has two rings, a foot ring in black with small red vertical lines, golden outline and golden lettering D. Magnus II Limitada. The normal ring has that same red & black vertical striping and the golden outline on the sides and back and a big yellow logo on the from with a red banner. The brand name Casa Magna is printed in golden and on a small banner at the bottom it says D. Magnus II limitada. I smell a mild woody aroma.


Due to the unusual shape I had no choice but to cut and I used my Xikar XI2 cutter for that. The cold draw is good and I taste some woody and pepper flavors. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a pleasant coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste cedar and a little metallic flavor. This is not how I remember the cigar when I first smoked it. After a centimeter I taste mild peanuts with still some metallic flavor. After a third i also taste a little bit of cocoa.

Right before I reach halfway the metallic flavor is gone, I now taste herbs, toast and wood. After two thirds I taste some faint cocoa again. After that the cigar gets spicier again and the metal flavor returns too, but faint. The finish is great.


The draw is flawless and the ash is light colored, dense and firm. The shape of the cigar doesn’t feel weird or unusual as you might suspect. The smoke is medium thick and medium in amount. The burn is quite straight. The cigar is full bodied and medium full to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, even if it was just to see if this is a dud or that the one I smoked in Nicaragua stood out from the rest.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Casa Magna, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Preferida 452

Didier Houvenaghel is a Belgian agricultural engineer who’s passion is tobacco and he wrote what is probably the best book about cigars ever: The cigar: from soil to soul. I have seen the book, read parts from it but I have yet to find a copy for myself but the book is out of print and its not available on Amazon, Ebay or any other sites that I know. Maybe I should ask Didier when I see him either in Singapore where both his and my wife live or at the Intertabac trade show.


Didier also started his own cigar brands, La Ley and Nicarao but last year he expanded with a new line, La Preferida. All his cigars are made by A.J. Fernandez and Didier handed me this cigar in person. The cigar comes in two sizes, 4×52 or 5×52 an its made with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Mexican binder and an Ecuadorian Habano Colorado wrapper. I smoked the 4×52 for this review.


The dark chocolate colored wrapper looks smooth, not big veins, a nice even color, a very clean wrapper. The ring is very classic, just a 1920’s era lady on the baby blue ring and a yellow banner with the La Preferida name. The cigar feels well constructed and looks good.  A medium dark aroma finishes the cigar, I think of dark chocolate with some pepper.


I used a butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, I get a spicy tangy flavor on my lips. After lighting I taste a strong, pleasant espresso with a subtle sweetness. There is also a hint of cocoa. After a third it’s a spicy coffee and cedar combination with a little chocolate. After a third I taste wood with cocoa, a little sweetness, spice and pepper. Halfway the cigar gets sweeter, with some vanilla over spices and dry cedar. There are subtle changes in flavor, the final third has something floral, with still some pepper.


The draw is flawless, the smoke is thick, white and voluminous. The ash is white, dense and firm. I’m positive awed by the balance in the strong flavor. The burn is great. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is long, an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, over and over again. I loved it so much that I grabbed my Nub tool.

Score: 95
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Categories: 7-20-4, 95, La Preferida, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso

As I wrote in my review of the Undercrown Sungrown Flying Pig, this cigar was given to me by the man himself, Willy Herrera, at the intertabac trade show last year. I met Willy years ago, when he just started working for Drew Estate and have met him several times since mostly at the factory of his inlaws and the place where he got his claim to fame: El Titan de Bronze, a must see if you’re ever in Miami.


I have been to the Drew Estate HQ in Miami a few times, I have been to the factory in Esteli a few times and I can only say that I have mad respect for the company that Jonathan Drew built, starting from a push cart at the World Trade Center to one of the biggest and most modern factories in the world, from just cigar sales to being a major manufacturer and then rebranding yourself from a infused cigar manufacturer to a well respected and loved brand by serious cigar smokers, all the while being different then others with incorporating art, the style, the culture and of course the immense social media coverage. Kudos.


As the cigar, its a 6×52 Belicoso. The Ecuadorian Sumatra sun grown wrapper has a little tooth and a little oil. Maybe because the wrapper is bigger than on the Flying Pig, but it looks a little rougher and less smooth. The ring is the same, the classic Undercrown logo in gold on a red background and the foot ring is in the same color scheme. The construction feels good with a nice round head on the belicoso. The aroma is barnyard with manure, medium to full in strength.


Due to the shape cutting the cigar is my only option. The cold draw is great, with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee. I also taste a little citrus and wood. After a quarter of an inch I taste more cinnamon and lemon, the coffee is gone. Some pepper shows up too. After a third it’s wood, pepper and some lime. Halfway I taste a mild peanut with lime and pepper. The final third is wood with pepper and a mild floral flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is typical Drew Estate, thick, white and plentiful. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn is straight. The cigar starts medium bodied but turns full bodied, full flavored along the way. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , ,

Espinosa Maduro Corona Gorda

Erik Espinosa doesn’t come from a long line of cigar makers, in fact, he started his career as a UPS driver bringing deliveries to cigar shops, thats when he got introduced to cigars. That led to working in a cigar shop, which led to owning a brand with Eddie Ortega and when they decide to part ways he started his own factory, La Zona, in Esteli. A factory that is now quite renowned and makes a few high rated, well received blends, not just for his own company but also for others like Moya Ruiz, Cornelius & Anthony and La Sirena. And I’ve had the pleasure to sit on the deck of the factory with cuban style coffee and a nice Hector Alfonso blended cigar, I wouldn’t mind doing that every day. Oh and Happy Birthday Hector!!


The Espinosa Maduro is one of the lines that Espinosa makes for his own cigar company, the name is a clear sign of that, but he also produces 601, Murcielago and the award winning Laranja for Espinosa Cigars. The line consists of four vitolas, three of them are box pressed (the robusto, toro & belicoso) while the 5 5/8 x46 Corona Gorda is round and has a pig tail. I’m smoking that particular cigar for a review today.


The Mexican maduro wrapper is very dark and leathery with a few veins, it’s not the best looking wrapper but for some reason I like it, the color and the texture just match up perfectly. The rings are gorgeous, beige with golden outlines, a red dot with the Espinosa logo and a light blue banner with the Espinosa name in red letters, and a smaller banner saying ‘hecho en la zona’ and then a deep blue detail. The foot ring brings back the deep blue with a golden edging and the same letters as the Espinosa name but now saying Maduro. The cigar looks a little crooked but the construction feels great and the triple cap with pig tail is placed perfectly. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of cocoa, I live in an area with several cocoa factories so I know that smell all too well. I also smell a bit barnyard too.


I cut the cigar with my xikar guillotine. The cold draw is fine, I taste raisin and dark, creamy chocolate with some pepper. After lichting the cigar I taste coffee and dark chocolate with a hint of white pepper. After half an inch I taste dry grass with cedar and pepper. After an inch I taste oak with some rucola. The second third starts peppery with some fresh wood on the background. Halfway I also taste a little lime. Right before the final third I get a mild cocoa with a little mint and a strong yet balanced pepper. The final third starts meaty with some pepper. I taste some sweetness and it’s perfectly balanced with some acidity and pepper. Slowly some dark chocolate and cocoa shows up with some white pepper.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is thick and white. The ash is white too and very dense. The burn is straight and slow. This cigar is full flavored, medium to full bodied. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they get introduced to the Dutch market soon.

Score: 93

Categories: 93, Espinosa, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Don Pepin Garcia Original Toro

The final review of the My Father Selection Toro sampler is the Don Pepin Garcia Original aka the Don Pepin Garcia Blue series, on of the first or maybe even the first release under the Don Pepin name. Back then the Nicaraguan puro was made at the El Rey de Los Habanos factory in Miami’s Calle Ocho but nowadays the cigar is produced in Esteli, Nicaragua.


Although the blend, hundred procent Nicaraguan tobacco with a Corojo Oscuro wrapper, hasn’t changed, the rings did get an upgrade once of twice just like the related Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic/Black, which was my first ever Don Pepin cigar and I’ve loved the brand since. And I’m not the only one, since this cigar has been available for over a decade, scored 93 in Cigar Aficionado and reached the top25 in 2008 plus the Garcia family won that Top 25 list in both 2012 with the Flor de Las Antillas and 2015 with the My Father Le Bijou. With that under their belt, plus many more entries for their own brands but also for other My Father made brands like Tatuaje, La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal you can say that My Father Cigars equals quality.


The wrapper is a dark mocha color, its smooth and oily with no dominant veins. The foot of the cigar is protected by a piece of blue cloth and the cigar has two rings. The main ring is exactly like the Cuban Classic and the Series JJ, except where the Cuban Classic is black and the JJ is white, this one is blue. So a blue oval with golden curly letters saying Don Pepin Garcia and references to Nicaragua, Cuba and America on the sides. Then there is a secondary ring, blue with golden letters saying Original. The cigar feels and looks good, nicely finished, no soft spots. And the aroma reminds me of hay and those stock cubes you can use for soups, medium strong.


I used my xikar cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is flawless and I feel the pepper burn on my lips. After lighting I taste spicy and strong coffee. There is also a metallic freshness. The cigar is spicy, peppery and woody. After half an inch I taste cedar with a lot of pepper. After a third I taste some citrus acidity and some nutmeg with the cedar and the strong pepper. Halfway the pepper is less strong and the cigar is better balanced. I also taste a bit of chocolate milk. The chocolate milk disappears and the pepper grows stronger again.


The draw is great. The smoke is thick, full and voluminous. The ash is white. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored with a smoke time of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I smoked my first Don Pepin Blue a decade ago and I will keep smoking them.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Don Pepin Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro

Another cigar from the 5 count Toro sampler is the acclaimed Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, a blend that saw the light in 2009 as a single store cigar without a name but when the feedback was so positive Jaime Garcia decided to turn it into a regular production cigar with his own name to it. And it’s been a success since, it made Jaime step out of the shadow of his father and turned him into one of the three faces of the family run business.


The cigar is made with a broadleaf wrapper that surrounds a Nicaraguan Pelo d Oro binder and Nicaraguan fillers, both from the own Garcia owned tobacco fields and tobacco bought from the Oliva Tobacco Company, not to be mistaken with the Oliva Cigar Family, which is a completely different company and family that only share the same name and happen to be in tobacco too.


The wrapper is different shades of dark, like it has darker smears but I can also see a sparkle from the minerals in de leaf. There is one distinct vein on the bottom half of the cigar. The ring is broken with with silver and blue lettering, simple yet tasteful. The cigar does’t have any soft spots and the head looks good with a perfect triple cap. The cigar has a stable aroma, a smell that I remember from my youth, growing up in a small town and a few farms close by that I sometimes visited as a kid. The aroma is quite strong.


I decided to cut the cigar instead of punching it. The cold draw is easy yet spicy on the lips. After lighting I taste coffee with a little bitterness of dark chocolate. After an inch I taste a mild coffee, spices and dark chocolate. Halfway I taste wood with a icing sugar sweetness and a white pepper in the aftertaste. In the final third the cigar gains some strength and a lot of pepper.


The draw is a little loose but maybe because of that the smoke is extra thick and there is a huge amount of it. The light colored ash is medium firm, the burn is straight. This cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The cigar is well balanced and smooth. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, box worthy cigar.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Jaime Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Toro

As part of the My Father Toro Selection I’m smoking the Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Toro and I timed the review on this date, July 22nd for the exact same reason as last year. I’m doing it for Jerry Cruz, on the birthday of his son, JJ, that would have been 11 today if he didn’t tragically pass away from sudden infant death syndrome after just three and a half months old.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, made with Nicaraguan filler and a Criollo binder and wrapper from Corojo tobaccos. The cigar was blended by Jose ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and his son Jaime together and that’s where the JJ comes from. This was actually the first blend that was released under the Don Pepin name. In 2011 My Father actually released a limited edition of this blend in a Short Robusto size in honor of Jerry’s son who he nicknamed ‘Little Robusto” and the proceeds went to charity, 300 boxes were made and even though I wish I could do a review on that specific cigar I don’t think I’ll be able to get my hands on it.


The wrapper is latte colored and a little wrinkled, with a vein on the front bottom half. The rings are nice, white with white gold lettering, on the side it shows details of America, Cuba and Nicaragua and the secondary ring is in the same style, saying series JJ. The construction feels good with a nice triple cap. The foot of the cigar is protected with a little piece of cloth. The aroma is strong, a little acidic stable aroma, animals, hay and cow urine.


The cold draw after the cut is great and it’s flavorful, pepper, sweetness, a little lime and raisins. After lighting I taste a tangy blackberry flavor. After a few puffs I also taste a little cinnamon. After half a centimeter I taste the cinnamon and blackberry, dry and subtle. I remember this cigar to be much bolder, but a few years of rest mellowed the cigar out and I like it. After an inch I taste wood, a little spice and still that blackberry. Slowly I taste a subtle pepper too. Near the end the blackberry flavor returns with a lot of pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and full. The light gray ash is a bit coarse. The burn is good. The cigar is subtle, smooth and flavorful. Medium bodied and flavored.  The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m getting a box just to age them.

Score: 93
number93

Categories: 93, Don Pepin Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Centurion Toro

This is the second cigar that I’m smoking from the My Father Selection 5 Toros, after the first La Antiguedad Toro which I published yesterday. El Centurion has a beautiful history, released as a limited edition of 850 boxes in three sizes at the trade show in 2007 the cigar became legendary in the American cigar society, it then returned as an event only cigar and I got to smoke one when I did an interview with Jaime and Janny in Miami back in 2009 but in 2013 the cigar was finally released as a regular production cigar.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with Criollo, Corojo Habano & Sancti Spiritus tobacco as filler and a Sun Grown Criollo 98 tobacco as a wrapper. The cigar measures 6 1/4 x52 and as I said yesterday, it comes from a My Father sampler with 4 other My Father blends in toro size. The blend is made by José “Don Pepin” who said it reminded him of old style Cohiba cigars.


I love the look of the wrapper, dark, toothy like sandpaper, thin veins. The ring is beautiful, high quality paintwork with different shades of yellow, red lettering and golden details. The construction feels good and the medium strong aroma is quite herbal with some charred wood.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw, which tastes spicy with some sweetness, is great. I taste coffee. After a quarter of an inch I taste oak with pepper. There’s also a mild milk chocolate flavor taste. After a third I taste oak, pepper, pepper and some vanilla sweetness. Halfway the flavors mellow out, the wood changes, I get a more herbal flavor with white pepper. The flavors are quite meaty. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end the cigar is typically Nicaraguan with plenty of pepper and that Pepin twang they got famous for.


The draw is great, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is medium full in thickness, the amount is good too. The burn is good. The cigar is medium plus bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Great cigar, I will smoke this more often.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Centurion, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

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