Tabacalera Noa

Noel Rojas, Esteli, Nicaragua

Jas Sum Kral Kralot Toro (pre-release)

I have known Riste, the owner of Jas Sum Kral, for years and even got him his first international distribution deal outside of the USA. Last month he came over to Europe for a two day event in The Netherlands, a few events in Sweden and the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund, Germany. During his days in The Netherlands I was his host and designated driver, a video of that trip can be seen here.


While he was here Riste handed me a handful of the 2018 release, the Kralot, but of course with pre-release rings. Now for fair scoring I rate the official artwork, made by Nuzli Hakiim, and not the simple pre-release ring. As far as I know it’s a Nicaraguan puro made at the Tabacalera Noa factory from Noel Rojas, a factory which never let me down.


The artwork now is simple, but the JSK Lion will be on the ring with added details, it will be the bomb. The wrapper is evenly dark, almost black, and it feels like very fine sanding paper. The construction is flawless, evenly packed, great triple cap and a closed foot. The cigar has a very strong, smoky aroma, not as strong as the Kentucky Fire Cured or Pappy van Winkle by Drew Estate but it reminds me of those cigars.


I decided to cut the cigar using my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is great and spicy. After lighting I taste a smokey barbecue flavor, a bit sour but strong and spicy, with a sweet finish. The strong smokey barbecue flavor mellows out quickly and some vanilla fights it’s way to the surface.  After a third I taste a carrot like flavor, which I love, with spices and sweetness. The barbecue returns with a nice honey sweetness and vanilla, well balanced and sweet. The final third starts out a little spicier, with a little pepper on my tongue. The pepper grows to a strong pepper, overpowering until I have to put the cigar out because I’m burning my fingers.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is full, I get plenty of smoke but it’s not a super thick one. The ash is almost white, a beautiful contrast with the dark wrapper, and its dense and firm. The burn is beautiful and straight. The cigar starts full bodied and full flavored but mellows out to a medium full blend. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, can’t wait till they get released.

Score: 95
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your reviewer and Riste Riatevski (Jas Sum Kral)

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Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro

I knew Riste, the man behind Jas Sum Kral, from Facebook and when he released his first batch of the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, just in a toro size back then, he send a few to Hans van de Witteboer, the owner of Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven with the instruction to give me one the next time I visited Hans’s shop. So my next visit as a salesman Hans gave me the cigar and it blew me away, what an amazing cigar. I talked to my boss about this, he didn’t like the story on the Jas Sum Kral website and wasn’t even close to being interested in importing and distributing the cigars. I did though, so once Riste decided to do some line extensions I calculated the fixed prices for The Netherlands based upon his export prices, pre-sold 40+ boxes in just 5 shops and went back to my employer who then quickly made a deal with Riste.


Now I won’t bother you with the story on the name of the cigar, how it was blended, as this cigar has had so much buzz on social media that everybody will probably know it and if not, google is your best friend. And all the social media buzz is well deserved considering all the ‘top 10/25’ lists of 2016 as Jas Sum Kral is mentioned in a lot of them which is quite remarkable for such a new and small brand, thats not being sold in a lot of shops yet, but if the FDA doesn’t screw the cigar industry up that will change, mark my words and it his slipstream other cigars rolled by Noel Rojas in his Tabacalera NOA in Esteli, like Ohana and Prendelo will follow. Now I don’t mention Rojas his own brands Rojas Reserva, Guayacan and Sabor de Esteli because they already have a wider spread in location. Even though the cigars are rolled at Tabacalera NOA, Riste blended the Jas Sum Kral himself.


When I release the 6×52 toro from the cellophane coat I feel a leathery Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has a few veins and some sparkling from minerals. The construction feels great and the cigar has a close foot and a very pretty pigtail, this shows some skills from the rollers at the NOA factory. The ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim is a piece of art, burgundy with gold, very detailed with lions and lots of small decorations.  When you think of it, the cigars are blended by a Macedonian American, rolled by a Cuban that has a company in Nicaragua and the ring is designed by a Singaporean, this cigar is the epiphany of globalization. The aroma is medium strong and has a little charred wood mixed with manure smell.


Because of the pigtail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine considering the closed foot and I taste mild black tea and a stronger pepper flavor. Once I lit the cigar I taste some leather with blueberry and pepper, with a little fresh aftertaste. After a few puffs I taste some spices with the berries and the fresh aftertaste. After half an inch i taste a little more pepper with toast, some sweetness and a little spice. After an inch i taste more toasted bread with some cinnamon. I get a dry feeling in the back of my throat and still a bit berry and pepper. Then the berry changes into creamy chocolate. After a third I taste cedar with toast, pepper, chocolate and herbs with the creamy chocolate as the strongest. Halfway it’s chocolate with pepper and herbs. Slowly some spices show up again. The chocolate disappears and I taste cedar with spices and pepper, the flavor is amazing. The pepper is gaining strength but the background cedar and spices are still amazing.


The draw is good, just a little bit tight but all within margins. The smoke could be a little thicker but there is enough smoke. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is as straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored, well balanced with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not complain if this was the only cigar I was allowed to smoke for the rest of my life.

Score: 95
95

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jas Sum Kral Crna Nok Toro

I am fluent in two languages, Dutch and English, I can manage myself in German and I can handle most of the Spanish cigar names like Antiguedad, Sobremesa, Guayacan, Mi Querida and other Spanish names but leave it to that Riste Riatevski guy to mess that up by naming his cigars in Macedonian. Now Jas Sum Kral is doable and his first blend that was released has an English name (Red Knight, see a review of the lancero here), then he came out with a limited edition for a herf in Minnesota that was just called the maduro (review here), so far so good. But then he started messing with everybody out there and decided to call his Connecticut Shade cigar the Zlatno Sonce (review here), a limited edition coffin with 2 A sized cigars the Da Cebak (review next month) and this Connecticut Broadleaf one the Crna Nok, which to me sounds like something Mr. Worf, the Klingon from Star Trek, would say right before battle.


I fell in love with Jas Sum Kral the minute I smoked my first Red Knight toro, a cigar that I will review later this year, I promise and met Riste at Intertaback 2016 after being Facebook friends for a long time and helping him to get his cigars distributed in The Netherlands. Riste send me a package with some Zlatno Sonce, Crna Nok and a coffin Da Cebak and I promised to review them. This cigar, just like all other Jas Sum Kral cigars, except the Da Cebak, is blended by Riste and made at Noel Rojas’ factory Tabacalera NOA, which is becoming one of my favorite factories in Nicaragua. The cigar has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican binder and a filler that has some ligero and piloto cubana corojo amongst others. On www.jassumkral.com the description says “while this cigar is smooth as fuck, I can feel the nicotine” so I my anticipation of this cigar is high.


I love the ring, as I have said in my previous Jas Sum Kral reviews, the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim did an awesome job. The only thing changed for this Crna Nok is the background color, where the Red Knight has some red in it, this ring is completely black with the golden logo and details, so very well designed and printed, beautiful ring. The cigar has a closed foot, a detail I love and it fits with the rustic, toothy dark and leathery wrapper that has a few sparkles of minerals in the leave. The construction feels good and that closed foot gives it some bonus points. The cigar has a strong charcoal smell, like its been fire cured, but mixed with dark chocolate and fresh toast.


I couldn’t find my punch so I grabbed my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste pepper, raisin and some spices. After lighting it with my Ronson lighter I taste coffee with cedar and nutmeg. After a few puffs I also taste honey. After half an inch i taste toasted wood with pepper and honey. I also taste some licorice a few puffs later and the cigar is very dry, I will probably drink a lot of water during this review. After an inch I taste that toasty, smoky wood with pepper and a faint chocolate. Every few puffs I taste some sweetness and a little lemon too. The final third starts with charred wood, sweetness, some pepper and a little lemon. The charred flavor is getting stronger but balanced well with the lemon.


The smoke is thick and full and the draw is fabulous. The ash is frayed but firm and salt & pepper colored. The burn is a little off but not so bad that it needs correcting. This medium full to full bodied cigar is smooth indeed, but still full flavored and with plenty of evolution and a great balance. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would, great cigar!

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kilo Toro

Yes I know, almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed this cigar too, so lets call this a redux. I wanted to review this cigar with my 100 point scoring system before they were all gone so this was my last chance. Here’s the story, years ago I met Barry Stein when he worked for Miami Cigar & Co when I went to visit Nestor Miranda and Jason Wood at the office and we stayed in touch, actually, everytime I went to Miami Barry and I made time to smoke a stick or two so when I saw him post on Facebook that he was brining back his brand that he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co I asked for more information.


All Barry said that the cigar was being made in Esteli, a town I would visit soon after the conversation and after a little push Barry told me who made the cigars but I had to promise not to tell before he publicly announced it. It was Noel Rojas, back in his old factory Aromas de Jalapa, nowadays Noel works from Tabacalera NOA and Barry was kind enough to get me Noel’s contact information. This all led to the introduction of the Rojas, Sabor de Esteli and Guayacan brands in The Netherlands 18 months later but that’s a side step. I visited Noel at the factory and he gave me a bundle of the Kilo Toro and Barry asked me for pictures because he had not seen the complete cigars with the rings.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the blend as I simply don’t know, but I can tell you all about the looks. The cigar looks cool, the wrapper is has a deep dark brown color with a light oily shine and no noticeable veins, the construction feels great and you can see Noel’s Cuban heritage with the triple cap. The cigar ring is one of the best i’ve seen, high glossy paper, pitch black with a thick golden outline that really pops, white chemistry drawings and KILO in golden letters. On the back you will find the United Cigars logo, think Route 66 with 3 white stars in blue and the classic American red & white stripes. The aroma is great, deep and it reminds me of the rolling tobacco my father used to smoke when I was a kid and before his health made him stop. There is absolutely no acidic aroma at all, no ammonia, nothing.


I decided to punch the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a little raisin with a little spice and honey. I lit the cigar with a soft flame as usual. I taste coffee with some leather and jalapeño pepper. On my lips I taste a very mild honey. After a few puffs I taste pepper, a mixture of spices and some honey with a leathery aftertaste. After a centimeter I taste some cedar too.

After a third I taste some pepper, some cedar, some honey and a little cocoa. Halfway the cigar gets a little bitter on the tip of my tongue and I taste some spices, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and also a little citrus. The flavors are quite dry, I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The cigar also gets a little peppery again. Near the end I also taste some freshness and the pepper is gone. There is also a mild nutty flavor


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is too, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is firm, dense and light colored. The burn is a bit crooked though but not too bad, so I don’t need to correct. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 50 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible as Barry has sold the rights to the name and the cigar has been discontinued.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Jas Sum Kral Zlatno Sonce Robusto

If you’re a cigar smoker and you’re on Facebook or Instagram you must have seen or heard about the Jas Sum Kral brand, owned by Riste Riatevski. His first release, the Red Knight, took the internet by storm and not without a reason as that cigar is amazing. I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight lancero last year, that means it was done with my old scoring system without a final verdict and last february I reviewed a maduro version, with a Mexican San Andrew wrapper that was made for the Minnesota Herf Connection and that one scored a decent 90. I already have a review drafted for the Red Knight toro and without saying too much, that one scored considerably higher than the Maduro and will be a contender for the Cigarguideblog Top 25 of 2017. Besides the Red Knight Jas Sum Kral has two more regular production cigar, the Zlatno Sonce and the CRNA NOK which means something in Macedonian but I haven’t mastered that language yet. Besides these three regular productions Riste also released a limited edition A size, 2 cigars in a coffin, called Seljak. A review of that cigar and of the CRNA NOK will also be published later this year.


Now I hate Connecticut Shade cigars with a passion and this Zlatno Sonce has an Ecuadorean Connecticut wrapper over an undisclosed binder and a filler that has some ligero, some corojo and some undisclosed other tobacco. At the Jas Sum Kral group on Facebook I expressed my hate for Connecticut Shade but everybody who smoked it raved about it and Riste was kind enough to send me a few samples so I could try them out for myself. Just like all the other blends, this cigar is made by Tabacalera New Order of the Ages, the factory of Noel Rojas, in Esteli, Nicaragua. Since I liked Riste’s two previous blends and liked all cigars from Tabacalera NOA that I smoked I hope that this 5×50 robusto can change my opinion about Connecticut Shade wrappers and you’ll find out if you keep reading, or scroll straight to the end of the review if you’re too lazy to read the whole review or too curious to wait my final verdict.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane the closed foot is the first thing that I notice and I love closed foot cigars, there’s something about the look that makes the cigar so much more appealing. The next thing I notice is the quite strong aroma, that is deeper and stronger than most Connecticut Shade cigars, no hint of ammonia, just raw tobacco and wood, a bit like a walk though the forest in the summer after a rainfall but then with added tobacco. The construction is flawless, but that’s what I expect from Tabacalera NOA, where Noel Rojas stepped away from the classic male female rolling teams where the male bunches and the female applies the wrappers to a full female team and one male to put the cigar in the presses per 8 female couples, a very innovative move in the traditional cigar industry. The wrapper itself isn’t the most beautiful wrapper, but for a Connecticut Shade its good looking with just one big vein at the top of the cigar and a few sparkles from the minerals that the wrapper soaked up from the soil. And then the ring, I love the ring on the Red Knight and CRNA NOK, the ring on this Zlatno Sonce is exactly the same ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim, but then white with golden print. So much detail yet without being too busy, it’s a piece of art.


I cut the cigar with my xikar double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is loose while I taste some raisin and pepper. Completely against my principles I used a torch to light the cigar and I taste a mild bitter coffee flavor with cedar and some spices. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness but also that typical Connecticut Shade mustiness but just a little bit on the background. After a centimeter I taste mostly sugar with some cedar and a little licorice. The flavors are medium full and subtle. After a third I taste spices, nutmeg and cinnamon with a little bit of sweetness that is best described as chocolate sweetness. Halfway I also taste some salt and the typical Connecticut Shade flavor is gone. Towards the final third the cigar picks up in strength and I taste autumn leaves.


The smoke is full and thick with a good draw that is just a tiny bit too lose but still within reasonable margins. The ash is white and firm. The burn is great, almost completely straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is  the best Connecticut Shade on the market.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | 3 Comments

Jas Sum Kral Maduro Toro

Jas Sum Kral might be the most talked about cigar of 2016 on social media. It’s the brand of Riste Riatevski and he uses the social media like nobody else in order to get his brand name out and sell his cigars. His Red Knight is blended together with Noel Rojas and made in Noel’s factory Tabacalera NOA. Riste is from Macedonian decent and the name Jas Sum Kral means “I am king” in his native language. The first release was just a 6×52 toro with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over a double binder, one Mexican San Andres and one Nicaraguan Jalapa and undisclosed filler. I’ve been in touch with Riste on Facebook for some time and got my hands on one of this original release Red Knight toros through an account of mine, Hans van de Wittenboer from Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven, and it blew me away. So much that I asked my then employer, the largest independent premium cigar importer in The Netherlands to take on this brand, which he initially denied.


When the new vitolas came out, a lancero, lonsdale and robusto, I asked Riste for the international wholesale prices, called a few of my Facebook savvy accounts to see if they were interested, wrote a nice order and got back to my employer with everything worked out, the fixed retail prices and the biggest order Riste had until that moment. With so many boxes pre-sold my employer couldn’t say no any longer and The Netherlands became the first international market where the Jas Sum Kral brand was available. A few months later I parted from that employer and in my last week I used the company discount to buy some Joya Red Half Corona for my wife, her favorite cigar, and Jas Sum Kral Red Knight in all sizes for me. A review of the lancero can be found here (in my old scoring method, maybe I’ll do one in my new 100 point method later this year).


I finally met Riste in person at Intertabac 2016 last september and he gave me a new Jas Sum Kral Maduro toro, a cigar (6×52) that will only be released for international markets since it wasn’t ready for the dreaded august 8 deadline and can’t be introduced to the American market unless the FDA ruling is changed. I smoked one right at the show and decided to keep one for a review, this review. The ring is the same as for the Red Knight and is designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim who makes the most beautiful photos for his Instagram. The design is very detailed with great us of black, burgundy, gold and white letters on a good quality thick paper. The wrapper is beautifully dark, with some even darker spots, and two veins on the side and it’s leathery to the touch. The shape of the cigar is a bit off, it’s not completely round, the sides feel a little flattened but it feels evenly filled. The cigar has a dark aroma, a little bit charred and a wet dog with a hint of ammonia.


I decided to cut the cigar with my xi2 cutter from Xikar instead of punching it. The draw is fine and cold I taste dry raisin with a little spicy and peppery aftertaste. As almost every time when smoking indoor I lit the cigar with a soft flame and straight away I taste coffee, strong, bold and bitter. Soon I taste meaty and peppery flavor. The pepper is becoming really strong, maybe even too strong. Even the smoke smells peppery. After a centimeter I also taste some dark chocolate but with a lot of pepper.

Soon after a cedar flavor shows up as a backdrop for the pepper and after a third I taste a mild metallic flavor. The pepper is still the main flavor although it’s not too overpowering anymore. Halfway the cedar and metal get accompanied by chocolate as support to the jalapeño pepper. The background flavors change to wooden notes towards the ⅔rd mark. The aftertaste has some mint in it. After the ⅔ point I taste more of a salty walnut flavor with that metal and still the pepper. The final puffs are a toasty, nutty flavor with a lot of pepper.


The smoke is great, thick and luscious but I don’t like the gray color. The ash is white and dense. The draw is great. I had to touch up a few times to correct an uneven burn, I blame the thickness of the wrapper for that, but it does effect the score. This cigar is definitely full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half. Unfortunately I didn’t get to use my awesome Jas Sum Kral nub tool.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a pepper bomb, a few years ago I loved pepper bombs but my preferences changed a little. This is a great post barbecue cigar so I’ll buy a few for the summer season. But for other occasions I will grab the red knight.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jas Sum Kral Red Night Lancero

Jas Sum Kral is the brand of Riste Riatevski, an American cigar aficionado with Macedonian roots and that’s where the name comes from. He met up with master blender Noel Rojas, owner of Tabacalera NOA in Esteli, Nicaragua. At the time of writing the review Jas Sum Kral only exists in one blend called Red Knight. I smoked a toro, the first size that was released and it blew me away so imagine my happiness when I learned the cigar would be released in my favorite vitola, a lancero.


The filler of this 7×38 lancero is a secret but the binder is half Mexican San Andres and half Jalapa seco with an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper. The wrapper has a reddish glow but it’s not rosado as far as I know, it’s shiny too with a few small veins. The band is very detailed. The foot is folded and the cigar is topped with a beautiful pigtail. There is a mild earthy aroma coming from the cigar, the construction feels good. The cold draw is perfect and I taste a mix of raisin and white pepper.


First flavor I get is a burned flavor, but not harsh. After a few puffs the cigar changes a little bit, the burned flavor is pushed to the back and replaced by a buttery cream and a little lemon in the aftertaste. After three quarters of an inch I taste a nice woody flavor.

After a third I still taste the wood, creamy in structure and with a bit of honey sweetness. The flavors intensify and a hint of coffee is added. Halfway I’m getting spices too, a little pepper and some nutmeg. The pepper is nice and not overpowering like so often happens so often. After two thirds the wood returns but now with an increasing pepper.


The ash is white, dense but not to firm. I get a good amount of thick white smoke. The burn is sharp but it’s a lancero and that’s always a fine line between puffing to hard and destroying the cigar of having to relight it once in a while, I had to relight. The draw is just as I like it, not too tight and not to tight either. This cigar has some smoothness, it’s flavorful and strong yet not overpowering and it’s dynamic. The build up is fantastic. The smoke time is two hours and forty minutes


Would I buy this cigar again? Got myself a box of 20, will refill when empty!

Appearance: 9
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & Ash: 8
Aroma first part: 8
Aroma second part: 9
Aroma third part: 9

Categories: Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Kilo Toro

 

Mid April I saw a Facebook post by my friend Barry Stein, announcing the return of Kilo. Knowing Barry for a few years and with an upcoming trip to Nicaragua two weeks later I decided to shoot Barry a message and ask him who’s making the cigars. All Barry would tell me they were made in Esteli, but when I told him I would be there soon he made me swear secrecy and told me Noel Rojas from Guayacan cigars was making them. I shot Noel an email and we made an appointment in Esteli.


Noel showed me his factory and gave me a pack of 10 Kilo Toros, funny detail, I saw the cigars with bands even before Barry did. Noel is a great host, with a nice factory, good cigars and some innovative ideas. I need to try more of his cigars.

Now the cigar, the dark wrapper feels silky and has a few thin veins, the band is simple but stylish and due to the gold it will pop in the humidor. The cigar has a pretty strong hay aroma. The predraw is flawless with hints of raisin and white pepper. I can’t feel any construction errors.


First flavor I get is a strong taste of toasted coffee beans with soon herbs too. After a centimeter I taste oak with the said herbal flavors. After an inch I mainly taste woody flavors. After a third the cigar gets a bit dry, so I have to take a few sips of my rum & coke.


The flavor doesn’t change much, except the herbs make place for a mild toasty taste and pepper. Halfway I get some spices too.  After that the flavor doesn’t change much, but who cares? I like what I taste. The spices like nutmeg and cinnamon slowly get a bit stronger. At the end the woody flavors are the strongest.


The smoke is white and pretty thick. The draw is flawless. The ash is white and but not so firm, so it breaks quickly. The burn is pretty straight. The color of the ash keeps surprising me, it might be the whitest ash I’ve ever seen. The cigar is full flavored but medium in strength. It took me one hour and 40 pleasant minutes.

Would I buy this again? Yes, and i would love to try other vitolas too. And it makes me curious about other cigars from Noel’s factory.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part:8

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

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