iStill University Expands its Reach!

Introduction

The iStill University is the distilling industry’s leading educational facility. In he last 5 years over 1000 students have been trained. Participants score the iStill University courses with an amazing 9.7 out of 10!

In order to make the iStil University even more impactful, we have decided to use online as the medium to make participation easier. We aim to reach more people, to make the course easier to access, to have more students participate.

Online

Online provides an amazing medium for communication. You can learn in your own time and at your own speed. And you can do so at your own location, saving money on travel and stay-over expenses.

Online also provides challenges. It’s a medium well-suited for sending and receiving information, so great for explaining theoretical concepts. But how about practicing distilling and student-teacher-interaction? Let’s dive in deeper …

Theory, practice, and interaction

The iStill University teaches about distilling on three levels:

  1. Theory;
  2. Practice;
  3. Q&A.

Our amazing theories of mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation are taught via video’s. Since “online” allows you to learn in your own time, at your own speed, the time-constraint that the physical courses, at iStil HQ, had are no more. This means we can add more content!

The second level of teaching is practical. If you purchase the iStill Mini with the course, we’ll do online distillation runs together. We’ll train you – at your location, on your iStill Mini – how to make brandy, gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey!

The third level of teaching is in the students and teacher interacting. This final level of training is secured via topic-specific Q&A sessions, where we answer your questions and dive in deeper, and make the whole learning experience an interactive one!

Package deal

The iStill University Certified Training costs EUR 1.895,-. If you want to be able to practice your skills and develop your recipes, you can add the iStill Mini to your order. Combined, including trolley-bag and transport for the iStill Mini, the cost is EUR 5.000,- instead of EUR 1.895,- plus EUR 3.500,- is EUR 5.495,-. A EUR 495,- discount package deal …

Are you running an existing distillery? Do you have product on the shelf? Are you interested in the course theories, and in learning how the iStills work, but not in learning how to distill or develop your recipes? In that case, order the training, but maybe not the iStill Mini, and use your EUR 1.895,- investment as a discount for future production still purchases.

Roll-out

The iStill University is online as of today. Please check it out at:

https://istill.web.app/videos

The first 5 videos have been released. Consecutive videos will be released at a rate of two per week.

Availability

We have stocked over 40 iStills Mini. So if you want to combine theory with practice, please know that you can order the iStill Mini with your course. We ship the next day, so the iStill Mini can be at your location well within a week.

Certification

At the end of the theoretical part of the iStill University course, there is an exam. If you pass the exam, you get a diploma as “Certified Distiller”.

If you pass the theory exam, you can step things up and make drinks and ship them to us. We’ll test the drinks, and if they are consistent with our taste model, that is thoroughly explained during the training, you can earn a diploma as “Certified Master Distiller”.

Ordering process

You can order the course online. Just visit: https://istill.web.app/videos. The first step? Register your account. The second step? You purchase the course (with or without iStill Mini). Thirdly? You’ll get a link with payment info. After payment is done, you’ll get full access to the iStill University, and we’ll ship your iStill Mini, if that was part of your order.

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http://www.iStill.com

 

 

 

 

Improved Finance Options USA!

In consultation and cooperation with our USA finance partner North Star Leasing, we now offer improved finance options for customers in the USA.

Firstly, you can now finance up to USD 2,000 worth of iStill education as part of your order and rent-to-own program. If you want to take North Star Leasing and us up on this offer, just make sure to ask us to put the education fees in your quote!

Secondly, in order to help people get through this corona menace we’re in, North Star Leasing halves payments during the first three months of your rent-to-own contract. The discount will be spread-out over the remaining terms.

If you want to order an iStill, please reach out to Chris@iStillmail.com. If you want to learn more about the finance options via North Star Leasing, then contact JNadeau@northstarleasing.com.

Save cash, spread costs …

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Plated Still by iStill!

Introduction

The majority of the stills used today are plated stills and pot stills. Hybrid stills, like iStill’s original design, find their fanbase mostly among early adopters, not the industry majority.

Plated stills have columns with plates in them. The plates help redistill the base beer or wine into a higher proof New Make in one go. Bubble cap plates offer fixed liquid baths above the plates, hampering tails smearing and making post-run cleaning more difficult. Perforated plates offer more flexible liquid baths above the plates, allowing for both some early tails smearing and easy cleaning.

Up until now, iStill has sought to innovate everything, combining newly developed automated control systems with new packed column designs. Targeting early adopters, that made perfect sense. But over time, more and more distillers reached out to us, often from more mature segments of the industry or with a slightly more traditional inclination, asking us why we didn’t help them with improved plated stills as well. That was the question. The introduction of the iStill Plated Still is the mother of all answers.

Balanced Spirits, Produced Efficiently

Listening to the industry taught us that existing distillers, that have been in operation for 10 to 15 years, in general don’t value the newest or latest technology per se. They have product on the shelf. They often already have a distillery. What they are interested in, instead of the newest or the latest, is higher production volumes, more efficient means of operation, savings on staffing or at least the ability to grow without adding more personnel costs. Existing distillers are looking for established technology. Not just any version, but the best performing, the most efficient, and the most productive version of that technology.

In order to comply, we have set the standards high. Very high. We didn’t just add our amazing automated control systems to an existing plated column, but redesigned the original 1870’s specs to new, modern, improved plates, that we nicknamed “Performance Plates”.

The result? This all new Plated iStill blows any other plated still out of the water. It can achieve 87% with two instead of three plates in operation, which is the norm (out of an 8% boiler charge). Its production rate trumps  existing designs times two. Double the output, at half the energy consumption, and with only a quarter of the manual labor. There you have it: the all new iStill Plated Still made all other plated column stills obsolete over night!

Features & Benefits

Performance Plate Technology (PPT)

iStill optimized the perforated plate design for minimized vapor speed disruption. Minimized disruption translates into a more free, less interrupted vapor flow for higher run performance (more liters per hour) and better flavor consistency (better control over smearing, cuts, and taste).

Cold Finger Mini Thumper (CFMT)

The specially designed downcomer boosts inter-plate heat-transfer. Colder liquids above a plate are transferred to the warmer environment below that plate, resulting in a more gradual temperature gradient in the column. The almost complete absence of temperature shock inside the column further boosts performance (in liters of output per hour) and stabilizes flavor composition.

The slightly colder reflux, as it returns through the cold finger downcomer, gets heated up so that it starts acting as a mini thumper or small re-distillation chamber. This gives another boost to performance.

The final important role the CFMT plays, is that it centralizes reflux. It helps feed the plate underneath with centered reflux, thus optimizing the performance of that lower plate as well.

Liquid Management (LM)

“How do you create and manage reflux?” is the central question, when operating a plated still. Traditionally, a plated still is managed via cooling management. Add more coolant to the dephlag and you create more reflux, higher proof, more purity, and less flavor. Add less coolant to the dephlagmator, and the plated column starts to smear more flavors into the New Make, at lower ABV.

The drawbacks of this traditional management system are huge. Because the coolant can be hotter or cooler, in itself and in relation to the temperature in the distilling hall, the amount of reflux produced is never the same, disrupting the production of reproducible drinks. Further interrupters are the pressure with which the coolant is provided (a slight pressure drop results in more smearing and lower ABV directly) and air pressure.

In the Plated iStill we replaced the inaccurate and antiquated Cooling Management design (often – and correctly so – considered the bottle-neck in any plated still design) with our very accurate, state-of-the-art Liquid Management controls. In the iStill all gasses are cooled back to liquid phase, thus reducing the number of variables that otherwise influence column performance and flavor production. No more coolant temperature or coolant pressure variability. The only variable left to deal with in iStill’s unique Liquid Management design is air pressure. The only thing that still influences flavor variability and optimized production rates is air pressure. So guess what? We invented Air Pressure Control …

Air Pressure Control (APC)

iStill’s APC unit measures current air pressure on a second-to-second basis. If the air pressure changes, the iStill automatically adapts the cut points for heads, hearts, and tails, to secure spirit reproducibility. In plain English? The iStill Plated Still helps make the same product, consistently, over and over again.

Auto Plate Deployment (APD)

No need to manually deploy additional plates. No more need to bypass plates either. You dial in what strength and purity you want your spirit to come over, and the iStill Plated Still will deploy the exact needed number of plates and the depth of the redistillation baths automatically.

Automated Cuts Management (ACM)

Depending on what flavors you are looking for in your drink, you can dial in how you want the iStill Plated Still to execute the heads, hearts, and tails cuts. ACM works together closely with iStill’s build-in air pressure controls.

ABV-Control (ABV-C)

You can dial in the proof or percentage at which you want your spirit to come over. The iStill Plated Still supports any percentage from 40% to 94%. You dial it in, the iStill does the rest, saving you time and money.

Reflux Capacitor (RC)

The RC processes reflux one final time, before it exits the column, and re-enters the boiler. In doing so, it boosts total column performance, just by itself, with a whopping 20%. This results in a more stable run, energy savings, and higher production rates.

Anti Entrainment Zone (AEZ)

The Plated iStill comes with four perforated plates. The two bottom plates and the two top plates are separated via an Anti Entrainment Zone. The AEZ prevents unwanted, late tails traveling up the column and infecting your New Make Spirit.

Auto Sanitation & Cleaning (ASC)

The iStill Plated Still uses the last bit of alcohol from the run to sanitize the still post operation. It does so automatically. The iStill Plated Still also uses the first bit of alcohol of the next run to automatically clean out column, plates, coolers and cuts selector at the beginning of that next run. The benefit? It saves you an hour of cleaning per day or per run.

Copper Foam Technology (CFT)

In case imperfect fermentations result in higher than wished for sulfur counts, copper – as a catalyst – can clean up the contamination. But a copper column would add two hours to your daily cleaning protocols and copper facilitates the formation of ethyl carbamate (a carcinogenic). That’s why we developed CFT. All iStills come equipped with a CFT waffle that can be inserted low in the column and that takes care of any sulfur contamination without any of the downsides of a completely copper column.

Application

The iStill Plated Still excels at the efficient production of medium-flavored spirits like American whiskies, Bourbon, and Irish Whiskey. Fruit brandy and brandy? Oh, yes! It doesn’t have the raw, robust flavor concentration power of a pot still, so well suited for single malt whisky or Cognac production, spirits that need extensive aging. It does not have the versatility of the original iStill Hybrid Still / Packed Column Still either, that can make any spirit.

Those familiar with Odin’s Theory of Distillation, know that a potstill is very well suited at creating three-dimensional drinks. The original iStill, with its hybrid, packed column can make one-dimensional spirits (vodka), two dimensional drinks (Bourbon, gin), and three dimensional drinks (the more traditional whiskies). The iStill Plated Still sits on the sweat spot in the middle. It shines when you want to make two-dimensional and 2.5-dimensional drinks. Drinks that will take 6 to 24 months to age, not 3 to 12 years to mature into their own.

Sizes & Prices

The iStill Plated Still comes in 100, 500, 2000, and 5000 liter configuration. The iStill 100 Plated Still features a 3 inch column, where the 500 liter model is equipped with a 5 inch column. The iStill 2000 and 5000 Plated Stills have column diameters of 8 and 12 inch respectively.

Pricing:

  • Plated iStill 100: EUR 20.000,-;
  • Plated iStill 500: EUR 40.000,-;
  • Plated iStill 2000: EUR 70.000,-;
  • Plated iStill 5000: EUR 110.000,-.

First Edition Series

Orders placed in May and June 2020 get upgraded with the additional square manhole and WiFi for free!

Performance

  • ABV output range (on an 8% boiler charge): 50% to 94%;
  • Run times (on an 8% boiler charge): 4 to 5 hours;
  • iStill 500 Plated: over 35 lph at 50%;
  • iStill 500 Plated: over 30 lph at 60%;
  • iStill 500 Plated: over 20 lph at 80%;
  • iStill 2000 Plated: over 75 lph at 50%;
  • iStill 2000 Plated: over 70 lph at 60%;
  • iStill 2000 Plated: over 45 lph at 80%;
  • iStill 5000 Plated: over 175 lph at 50%;
  • iStill 5000 Plated: over 160 lph at 60%;
  • iStill 5000 Plated: over 110 lph at 80%.

Availability

The Plated Series by iStill can be ordered as of today. Lead time is around 4 to 6 months (depending on size and options). If you want to order one, please reach out to Chris@iStillmail.com.

Optimized plate design for better performance …

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Column assembly is a breeze …

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Impressive bit of kit …

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Power Plate Technology in action …

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Power Plate Technology in action (video) …

iStill 500 Plated: start of hearts collection …

http://www.iStill.com

Aspects of Distillation (5): Distillery Design!

Introduction

Aspects of Distillation” is a series the iStill Blog hosts. It aims to cover as many aspects as possible. Aspects of – you guessed it! – the distillation process. Think alcohol formation, flavors, mashing, distillery design … and more. In fact, if you have a suggestion, please email us the aspect you want us to dive into. Via Odin@iStillmail.com. Today’s topic answers a question Daniel Binkowski asked: “Can you give guidelines on how to design a distillery …

Distillery Design

This is a very, very wide topic. So many things influence what the best lay-out actually will be. Experience, your location, the size of the hall you rent or own, the products you want to bring to the market, if a bar or tasting room is allowed, or if your distillery comes with a full swing restaurant and/or brewery attached.

In short, the comprehensive blog post on how to set-up your distillery … well, that’s not what this post will be about. The maximum we can do here is give you some general assumptions and considerations. For the distillery, not the bar or restaurant or tasting room.

Having explained the limits to this post, there are a few things I want you to consider, when planning the lay-out of your distillery:

  1. Flow;
  2. Flexibility;
  3. Points of entry and exit;
  4. Goal;
  5. Zoning and Safety;
  6. Growth;
  7. Bonus!

Flow

Create a flow. From left to right or the other way around. Start with a masher on the left, then put the fermenters to the right of that masher, and the still to the right of the fermenters. Collection and aging vessels could be positioned to the right of the still. Bottling and labelling stations would – again – be to the right side of these spirits collection and aging vessels. Packaging and dispatching to the right of the bottling and labelling machines. If you organize your workflow from left to right, or the other way around, you create oversight and prevent lots of additional handling, moving, pumping, tubing, and piping.

Even if you “just” use one iStill for mashing, fermenting, and distilling, the “go-with-the-flow”-approach is still important. Maybe put the iStill to the left, and the collection and aging vessels to the right of the still/distillery, and the bottling and labelling stations to the right of that, etc. It still makes sense to choose to work in a certain direction.

This flow doesn’t have to be a straight line. It can be U-shaped, with the units and work stations situated against the walls of your distilling hall.

Flexibility

If there is one thing you’ll learn from setting up a distillery, it is that whatever you plan out ahead, and whatever makes perfect sense now, reality will catch up with you. So make sure to plan for flexibility. Understand that what seems logical now, will, over time, change.

If you understand and accept the above, here’s our advise: go for a soft set-up instead of a hard wired one. Put your label-machine on a movable table. Connect your iStill and pumps with temporary tubing, so that you can easily and quickly adapt your lay-out according to new insights. New insights that can only come with the actual experience of operating your distillery for some time.

Points of entry and exit

Some goods enter your distillery in bulk. Think grain, molasses, bottles. Other goods leave your distillery in bulk. Think spent grain and cases of the spirits you produced. As a general rule of thumb, we advise to carefully consider those points of entry and exit, as they need bigger doors, easy access, and maybe a ramp.

Goal

Please consider if your goal is to optimize production or to make your distillery part of the customer experience. If the first one is the case, then the considerations elaborated on above stand firm. But that changes if you want to use your distillery for tours or as a showpiece that can be seen from your bar or tasting room.

If you have a bar or tasting room, you might want to put the iStill center stage, so that all who visit can admire it. This might compromise the perfect lay-out for production, but if it helps create more sales, maybe that’s worth it? the question-mark is there because it is a question you – not us – need to answer.

Tours complicate matters even more, since you now need to create a clear and safe path for your visitors to follow. For sure, that path will intervene with what otherwise would have been the perfect set-up for production. Again, there is no best choice or one solution that fits all. It is a trade-off and only time and experience can tell what’s the best solution for you, catering to your public, in your area.

Zoning and Safety

Zoning and safety regulations are different per country, state, or even city. Maybe down to the level of the inspector you have to deal with.

Always make sure you incorporate zoning and safety criteria into your distillery set-up. Reach out to the inspecting bodies and make sure they sign-off on your plans. Invest in standard operating protocols, in alcohol and CO2 detection equipment, in safety protocol training for your staff, maybe even in sprinklers, and fire-proof doors, and the correct electrical coding.

Designing a distillery without taking compliancy into account is futile. Inspectors will only allow you to open your distillery if they find you have ticked all the boxes zoning and safety-wise.

Growth

Whatever you plan, however you plan, plan for growth! “I should have opted for that bigger building” is the most common feedback we get. It’s right up there with “I should have bought the bigger iStill”.

Starting a distillery is just that: the starting point. Running a distillery is what it’s all about. It is where you actually start to make money. You don’t want to go through all of the planning phases again, if you grow. Instead, prepare for growth.

Factor in that you might need a bigger iStill or fermenters or mashers of maybe even a bottling-line. That way your growth – from a production stand-point – will be more or less organic instead of another abyss to overcome.

Bonus: add more drains!

Simple yet essential. Add more drains! Discharging, spilling, and cleaning are all side-effects of any distilling operation. Since they don’t make you money, make sure you can handle them as efficiently as possible. Adding more drains is the answer to many of the questions that are easiest to forget about.

Features & Benefits

All iStills can mash, ferment, and distill. That makes floor-planning a hole lot easier. All iStills, from the i500 upwards, now come with central distillery management included. This makes adding fermenters and/or mashers, at a later stage, very easy. All iStills are easy to assemble and move around. They can be hooked up with a simple garden hose and electrical wire, so that you can change your distillery design without any hassle.

Distillery lay-out at Long Branch Distillery, New Jersey …

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http://www.iStill.com

Odin Offers His Opinion, Loud and Clear (2)!

How stupid can you get!?!

Question to myself. Almost a rhetorical one. And the answer is … pretty stupid sometimes. What I am talking about? The way in which we position iStill, in what markets we are successful, and where we lag behind and what causes that.

With a global market share of somewhat above 18%, we are the world’s leading manufacturer of distillation equipment. Great! Job well done, right? Wrong!

Analysis of our market shares and penetration rates differ per country. Makes sense. No problem. Some countries are ahead of the curve. And some have – given our effort – adopted the disrupting new technology iStill offers faster than others.

So what’s wrong, or better: what’s skewed? Not what countries we are successful in, but what market segments. We do amazingly well among early adopters. In fact, a case can be made that we OWN that market segment. But what about the other market segments, how do we perform there? If we distinguish between early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggers, it is fair to say that it’s the first two groups that love what we do. Late majority and laggers? Not so much …

On a superficial level, that makes perfect sense. It’s the “early’s” that adopt new technology, well, earlier. And it is the “lates & laggers” that, eh, lag behind in the adoption of new technology? Yeah, makes sense, but let’s dive in deeper.

What are the stills of choice for the early and late majorities? As a general rule they choose plated stills. The smaller and medium craft distillers that belong to the early and late majority segments focus on batch plated stills, the bigger boys and girls use continuous plated stills.

The still of choice for the so-called “laggers”, people that frown upon innovations, that are distrustful towards new technology? Well, the potstill of course. And what do you think they see, when they get referred to our current website? “That doesn’t look like a potstill to me! You can TELL me it’s the best freakin’ potstill in the world, and that it does loads of other things for me, but I don’t care, since it doesn’t look like a potstill at all!” The fear of something new clouds a rational assessment of the actual benefits.

What is the still of choice for early adopters? What the market calls “hybrid stills”. Stills that can perform multiple jobs, like make gin and whiskey, or rum and vodka. What’s the current line-up of iStills in a nutshell, looking at it from the outside in, instead of inside-out? The mother (or better: smart and sexy daughter) of all hybrid stills.

Does it start to make sense why we are so successful with early adopters and why we appeal to the earliest part of the early majority? It does, doesn’t it? And why we are less successful with the late majority? You know the answer and now so do I. How stupid I can get? Pretty darn stupid, expecting to sell hybrid stills to plate polishers and pot heads (pun intended)!

I confidently state that iStill makes the best stills in the world. In terms of ease of use, control, spirit quality, build quality, bang for your buck, efficiency, versatility, non-toxicity, repeatability, and more, there is nothing that even comes close. But we have been a bunch of (unintentionally) arrogant bastards, basically telling a big portion of the industry that they better listen to us, where we should have done a better job at listening to them.

So, let’s take care of some business. Do you want a hybrid still? We have one for you. All sizes, from 100 to 5000 liter. The best in the world? You better believe it is.

Now, let’s envision another kind of customer, one that learned the trade on a potstill and then upgraded to a plated still. Took him a few years to master it, but now that these growing pains have subsided, he is all okay with it. He wants a new still. Business is booming. He does not want a hybrid still. No more growing pains, please! He doesn’t want a potstill either. Been there, done that. He knows exactly what he wants: another plated still.

Does iStill need to be more catholic than the Pope? More right than your ex? I don’t think so. What we need to do, is give the customer what he wants. A plated still? Fine, yeah, we have one. Not just any plated still, but (and that is a prerequisite) the best plated still in the world. Imagine that: a plated column combined with the super-efficient iStill boiler, and our amazing management and control systems.

Can you picture it? A plated column-still managed via our robot and cuts selector? Air pressure controlled. Reflux Capacitor for a 25% column performance boost. ABV-Control? Sure. Automated programs for Bourbon and brandy and rum? You’ve got it. Cooling Management? It makes so much more sense to choose our far-superior Liquid Management technology to manage plated stills, because now you can turn plates on or off via the robot instead of having to do so manually!

We needed to pull our heads out of our asses. And analyzing our successes in some segments, and failures to penetrate others deep enough, helped us do just that. You select the sort of still you want, we’ll deliver you the ultimate version of that still. Are you into a hybrid still? Please check out our current models! Are you shopping for a new plated still that helps boost production while lowering your energy bill? Boy, have we got the plated iStill for you! Are you into continuous distilling? If “continuous still” is the answer to your questions, rest assured that “Continuous iStill” is the best proposition, the best response the industry has to offer.

“iStill Pedantic” is no more (well, as long as you don’t count these posts of mine). Instead of us building a hybrid still and convincing everybody that this is the solution to all distilling problems, we trust you to decide what you want and need. Our role? Delivering according to your wishes and adding some much needed iStill Magic to the current, existing, more traditional still-segments.

Early and late majority iStill customers? Welcome to the show! You’ll love the amazing plated iStills we’ll introduce shortly. Dear laggers, glad you finally found us. Please know we are planning an iStill potstill, that will make you lick your fingers. iStill competitors? Enjoy your late majority and lagging customer base while it lasts, since THE LONG, DARK STONE-AGE OF DISTILLING HAS FINALLY LIFTED!

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Cocktails in Times of Corona!

Rummieclub is a rum distillery operating out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This is how they deal with the corona pandemic:

In our last newsletter the whole world was different; We were looking forward to our opening party and all the nice workshops and events we had planned. Our calender is completely empty now and we are making plans for a society on 1,5 meter distance, bizarre. Even though the timing couldn’t have been worse for us at the start of our sales and the moment we have the least savings, we are busy making plans how to survive this. The first few weeks we focussed on extra production and we expect to sell next month at the webshops of liquor stores. We are not there yet, but luckily there is already a way to taste our rum; We are starting a cocktail delivery service this week!

As distillery in the Netherlands we are not allowed to sell rum to consumers ourselves; Spirits with more than 15% alcohol can only be sold by liquor stores. But that’s not the case for our rum cocktails as they are below 15% abv. And that’s why we are opening a Rummieclub Cocktail Service in the region of Amsterdam!

Do you also want a lovely summer cocktail (250ml) with the first Rummieclub rum or know people in Amsterdam? In the image above you can see how it works and what we have on the menu this week. Next order deadline is Wednesday 15 april. 

Do you want to help us? Share this message with your friends. Support your locals 🙂

Rummieclub Cocktails …

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