A. Fuente 8-5-8 Rosado Tuesday, Jun 7 2011 

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Country: Domincan Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: ?? Same as the other 8-5-8’s whatever that comprises
Size:  6.0′ x 47 ring

Fuente 8-5-8’s generate a lot of conversation among avid cigar smokers.  The Natural, bleh…  The Maduro, eh….   The Sungrown, heck yeah!!…  The Rosado, Woo-hoo!!! Gimme some!!

That is generally how it goes but can vary depending upon who you are talking to.  I do enjoy the black ribbon Sungrowns when I can find them, but even rarer than those are the 8-5-8 Rosados.  When it is Fuente and it is rare, it generates buzz.  For this cigar it is warranted.  It is a really fantastic smoke.  It highlights how dramatically a good wrapper can impact the overall experience of a blend.  As far as I know all the Flor Fina 8-5-8 cigars are the same blend of tobaccos in the filler.   If this is true this line of cigars is a good example to highlight the role a wrapper plays in the flavors of a cigar.

The 8-5-8 Rosado is smooth and delicious.  Floral notes are complimented by distinct flavors like cinnamon, and espresso.  There are also more robust flavors that develop later in the smoke like leather and spice, yet it always remains smooth with an almost creamy texture to it all.  This is a great cigar,  I wonder why it is that Fuentes best stuff always has to be rare and hard to find.  The cynic in me says to keep prices and sales up.  But I don’t know if the wrapper is just hard to come by or what.  I just wish they would make some of their better stuff a little easier to find.  I have grown disenchanted with the brand and no longer feel the need to go out of my way to constantly chase down these special releases even though I feel like I am missing out from time to time.

A.Fuente Hemingway Signature Rosado Tuesday, May 3 2011 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Sun Grown Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 6.0″ x 47 ring

Lately I haven’t been able to hangout at my local cigar shop or on the online cigar forums as much as I once was.  Life happens and with a wife, a dog, and two small kids my free time is nearly non-existent.  So I was very surprised when I walked into my local shop after being gone for a while to find these new Hemingways sitting in the humidor.  I guess I have fallen a little out of touch.  after letting sit in my humidor for the past month I am ready to spark this thing up as see what we have here.

I know very little about this version of the Hemingway.  Is it a one time deal, a very rare release, or only somewhat rare like the Maduros?  I have no idea but I bought a couple just in case I never see them again.  Glad I did.  the Rosado wrapper is a nice change-up for this smoke.  The Signature Maduro is probably my all time favorite Hemingway Series cigar.  I like this size and the Maduro wrapped version is just spectacular.  The Rosado is nearly as good in a completely different way.  It has a mild spice with a touch of cinnamon in there, all stacked on top of a core of leather and wood.  I even picked up some subtle flashes of what I’d describe as applewood at times.  It is a smooth medium body smoke and a real treat.

A. Fuente Hemingway Work of Art Maduro Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Hemingway Band(lost my camera so this scan of the band will be a place holder until I can get a pic of the cigar)

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 47/8” x 46/60 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Even new cigar enthusiasts seem to know all about the legendary and elusive Hemingway Maduros and the Work of Art tends to be one of the most coveted of that group.  Given that fact, I am not going to bore everyone with a lot of fluff on this review.  If you don’t know about them, a quick Google search will tell you all you need to know.  It seems like a lot of cigar smokers, especially the newer ones who haven’t had a chance to try these, go to great lengths to run the Hemingway Maduros down.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of a Hemingway Maduro, the thing you need to be aware of is that they only come out twice a year.  Just before Fathers’ Day and again just before the Christmas Holidays.  those are the times to be on the look for them.

While I enjoy most of the Hemingway Maduros, I find the WOAM is the one Hemingway Maduro Vitola that is truly special.  It seems to me that there is something about this specific size that the blend and the Maduro wrapper are perfectly suited and the result is amazing.  The WOAM is the one Hemingway Maduro that I will still go to some lengths to find.  I’d hate to ever find my humidor without a few of these resting inside.

So, you already know I like these cigars so my final opinion isn’t going to be a surprise, but let me tell you all about my experience smoking this particular WOAM…

The dark maduro wrapper is very rough and rustic looking.  It’s bumpy and veiny and has a dry look to it.  The aroma of the cigar is a rich tobacco with a hint of cocoa.   This unique perfecto is a great shape with a fat bulbous foot that ends in a small nipple at the tip, and a steady taper down to a perfect 46 ring gauge at the head.   The draw is always a little tight at first but it opens up quickly once you get the burn up onto the bulb of the foot.  Construction has always been consistently perfect on these.  I’ve smoked many and never had any issues with burn, draw, or any other part of the construction of these stogies.

The WOAM starts off smooth and easy with coffee and nut flavors.  As I made my way up to the thickest part of the cigar I also found earthy notes and lots of dark chocolate.  As I progressed down the taper earth and wood become the dominate players but there are still nice notes of cocoa here and there and a bit of maduro sweetness on the finish.  the last third or so is a lot of wood and earth with some pepper and spice as well as it becomes a bit fuller and more robust.  An excellent finish to a stellar and complex smoke.  The Hemingway Work of Art Maduro is a real treat.  Christmas is right around the corner so these should be showing up in cigar shops again soon.  Perhaps in a month or two so keep you eyes out.  CigarsDirect.com who generously provided the cigar for this review often has WOAM’s available. I commend signing up for their email subscription because they always send out an alert when they get these tasty treats in stock.  You can sign-up right at the top of their main page.

God Of Fire 2005 by Carlito Double Robusto Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Double Robusto 5.75″ x 52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The God of Fire is an extremely limited edition cigar made once a year by the Fuente Cigar Family for the company Prometheus.  Each year Don Carlos blends one size and his son Carlito blends a few others.  It is a very pricey cigar running in the $20 plus range.  In 2005 the Double Robusto was made by Carlito.  Sold in boxes of 10, the cigar is adorned in two ornate red bands.  The main band depicts the figure of Prometheus enduring his rather gruesome punishment for bring fire to the mortals.

Each cigar is wrapped in a very handsome Cameroon wrapper.  The wrapper leaf is so good looking it is almost hard to believe it is a Cameroon.  It has very little tooth and appears very smooth with very tiny, very fine veins spider-webbed across its surface.  It has a very uniform brown color and has the appearance of expensive leather.  It also sports a massive cap.  I counted 4 seams spiraling around the head of the cigar.  Examining the foot shows perfectly bunch tobacco with a dark, oily spot dead center revealing the presence of robust ligero in its core.

The God of Fire starts off smooth and creamy right from the start.  It has a very woody flavor complimented by a slightly sweet spice.  The smoke was amazingly smooth from start to finish.  Along the way I picked up notes of nuts and espresso.  The aroma had a hint of cinnamon in it and the last third was dominated by the original flavors of spice and wood.  The flavors were medium bodied and I considered the strength to be medium as well.  As for the burn and the draw, you’d be hard pressed to find a better constructed cigar anywhere.

With a lofty name like God of Fire you might expect a powerhouse cigar but that isn’t the case here.  The cigar is smooth and elegant and easy smoking.  It is a pleasure from start to end, but it does carry a very steep price tag relegating this cigar to primarily be a special occasion smoke.  It is certainly something every cigar smoker should try at least once.

Win a Box of OpusX Love Affairs Saturday, Mar 13 2010 

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It is time again for my annual fund raising drive for the Ride for Kids and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the US. This is the third year in a row that, thanks to some very generous people in the cigar industry, I have some spectacular cigars to give away as a thank you for your support of my efforts and of this wonderful charity that does so very much to help sick kids. This year you could win a box of Opus X Love Affairs, Hemingway Short Stories, Nubs, or a Cain F sampler pack.  Also up for grabs is a 5 pack Tatuaje sampler which will include a “Frank”, a 5 pack of Opus xXx, or a 5 pack of Oliva Serie V Belicosos.  Keep reading to find out how. (more…)

A. Fuente Hemingway Classic Maduro Monday, Jan 4 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto7.0″x 48 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

With the Holiday Season just passing into the rear view I figured I’d wrap the festivities with a Hemingway Maduro Classic.  The Hemingway Maduros always make an appearance on tobacconists shelves every year around the Holidays.  The particular cigars for this review are from the 2008 run.  The Classic seems to be one of the harder to find vitolas of the Hemingway Maduros.  At least I rarely ever see them.  More common at the shops in my area are the Signature Maduros and Works of Art Maduros.  Even the Hemingway Between the Lines seem to be more common around here than the Classic Maduro.

I smoked two of these cigars for this review because I wanted to see if what I thought of the first one I smoked would remain consistent with another sample.  The second cigar was identical to the first.  There isn’t much I can say about the Hemingway Classic Maduro that I haven’t already said about the Signature Maduro.  It has a dark leathery wrapper.  Construction is impeccible, the burn perfect and it produces a tn of thick white smoke.  It is a decently complex smoke with a heady aroma.  The flavors are well balanced and defined.  Rich creamy notes complimented by leather and a musty earthiness and a slight maduro sweetness.  The only thing I can say that is markedly different about this cigar is that the larger size makes for a longer smoke.  I always enjoy these cigars whenever I smoke them, but I feel the flavor profile is particularly well suited to the cold weather of the season.  A cozy spot in a comfortable chair with a nice hot cup of coffee or even a hot chocolate makes for a great smoking experience with this cigar.

You can get Hemingway Maduros @ CigarsDirect.com

A. Fuente Hemingway Between the Lines Tuesday, Dec 8 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Barber Pole – Broadleaf Maduro/Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 41/4 x 54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Hemingway line of Fuente cigars are hugely popular and like a lot of other Fuente cigars, very limited.  The Maduros are especially limited and are only released twice a year, one of those times being right around now, near the Holidays.  One of the more rare of the rare is the double wrapped, barber pole Hemingway “Between the Lines”.  Now plenty has been written about the background of the Hemingway cigars and I have written about them here before as well.  So if you are interested to learn a little more about them, check out my review of the Hemingway Best Seller and the Hemingway Signature Maduro.

The Hemingway BTL is an eye catcher.  The sharp contrast created by the light tan, shade grown wrapper and the dark, toothy broadleaf maduro wrapper intertwined like the stripes on a barber’s pole is a cool visual with a cigar.  They stand out among the cigars that surround them and I think the perfecto shape only enhances the beauty of this cigar.  Construction and burn characteristics are almost always a given with a Fuente cigar.  The quality of their products are superb but I wondered how this stick would fare in the burn department.  The shade grown and maduro wrappers are two very different beasts and have different burn characteristics.  I was curious to see how they would play together with this smoke.  Except for the normal oddities I experience with the burn at the beginning of a perfecto like this, the burn was even and without trouble for the duration of the smoke.  The draw was excellent and it produced thick clouds of white smoke.

Flavor is where the BTL falls a bit short of its straight maduro brothers.  I have always found the Hemingway Maduros to be delicious cigars, each one a treat to smoke.  The introduction of the shade grown wrapper on the Between the Lines has a less than desirable effect for me.  Some of the flavors I love about the Hemingway Maduros was still there.  The slightly sweet maduro flavor complimented by a damp earthiness and a subtle spice were all there but often times they were over powered by a dry grassiness and an acrid finish that I am certain was coming from the Connecticut Shade wrapper.  It really detracted from my enjoyment of the cigar.  Given that this is one of the most expensive of the “Holiday Hemingways” it is disappointing that it just isn’t as good a smoke as the others are.  It is a neat novelty, and the dual wrapper look makes it a visually appealing cigar, but flavor wise I just don’t think it lives up to the standard set by the rest of the Hemingway line.

Rating – C

Get your Hemingway & Hemingway Maduro cigars @ CigarsDirect.com

Redux: Fuente Fuente Opus xXx Saturday, Nov 28 2009 

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a.k.a. The Power Ranger
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Chateau de la Fuente Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Short Belicoso 45/8” x 49 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Probably one of the most famous and sought after cigars not made on the island of Cuba, the Opus X is the first Dominican Puro to garner such high acclaim. The various sizes consistently produce high ratings from cigar reviewers everywhere. And as is often the case when someone or something achieves such a high level of success, it has fostered a kind of love-hate relationship with avid cigar smokers. Like the New York Yankees are the baseball team so many love to hate, the Opus is a cigar that in addition to high praise, it also elicits some vehement dislike from some in the cigar world who believe the cigar is over hyped and over priced. I have never heard anyone say it was a bad cigar though. Like or dislike the line for whatever reasons, everyone seems to agree if you set aside the hype, the price, and all the other outside “stuff” and take the cigars just by themselves, the OpusX line of cigars are pretty good smokes. (more…)

Ashton Classic Corona Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Corona 5.5″ x 44 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Ashton and the Ashton Classic came on the scene back in 1994 I believe.  It is the brain child of Philly native Robert Levin.  He partnered with the Fuentes who manufacture many of the cigars that bear the Ashton name.  Known for superb quality and construction on all their lines the Classic seems to be no exception.

The Ashton Classic is dressed in a silky, creamy looking Connecticut Shade wrapper adorned by a very classic looking black and white band.  The Ashton name is emblazoned in gold across its face.  The filler looks expertly bunched, almost as if each leaf was placed in position purposefully.  It predictably had a perfect draw.  The flavors delivered by this smoke are a little mild but perfectly balanced making it a very approachable smoke for a beginner but delicious and engaging enough to satisfy even an old pro.  The first puff or two is a little harsh and grassy but it immediately settles into smooth flavors of cafe au lait and a subtle hint of vanilla. As I made my way through the smoke I picked up notes cedar and almond as well as the occasional flash of grassiness, but the creamy cafe au lait flavors remained dominate throughout.

The Ashton Classic is a very good, very well made cigar.  I enjoy these most in the AM with a cup of coffee.  Any time someone asks me what cigar they should try when they are starting out, or if someone asks me what cigar should they offer to people who aren’t “cigar smokers”  the Ashton Classic is one of the two cigars I always recommend.

Rating- B+

Other takes on the Ashton Classic:

Ride for Kids 2009 Recap & The Winners Monday, May 4 2009 

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Another great year for the Triangle Area Ride for Kids. The weather was idyllic and the crowd was great. A lot of motorcycles showed up for the event again this year. The ride itself was great. The organizers picked a great route and the Chatham County Police did a wonderful job escorting the ride and taking care of the traffic for us. The ride was a non stop 50 or so mile ride through beautiful country that included a loop around the traffic circle in Pittsboro, NC. The loop through that circle is neat for the kids riding in the sidecars at the front of the procession because it allows them to loop back and see all the hundreds of motorcycles riding behind them. This year I had the honor of being among the top 5 individual fund raisers at the event. I was called up on stage with the other 4 individuals. Thanks to all the people who supported me and gave so generously I raised $3,220 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation this year earning me fifth place among the top fundraisers. It was quite an honor and a big thrill. I share that honor with all of you who donated, because without your generosity and caring it would have never happened. So thank you once again everyone for your support. The ride this year raised $126,207.95. If memory serves this is the second highest amount in the Triangles Ride’s six year history. (more…)

Who Wants a Box of OpusX? Wednesday, Apr 15 2009 

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I am almost there.  With over $2000 raised so far, and am just a bit more than $700 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $3000.  I need your help in this last week and a half to get that last bit of money to reach my goal.  There is still time for you to donate and give yourself a chance to win a BOX of Opus X Perfection No.5’s, or a BOX of A. Fuente Añejo No.49’s, or a BOX of Hemingway Classic MADUROS all very generously provided by CigarsDirect.com.  Every little bit helps and all it takes is a $10 donation to get your name in the Hat for the cigars.  Read all about it in my previous post about The Ride For Kids.  It is a worthy charity that does amazing work.  In that post I talk about the charity and what you need to do to get entered for the cigar drawing.

Click Here For Details

If you are in the Raleigh area and ride a motorcycle, I’d like to invite you to come on out and participate in the ride.  It is a lot of fun.  It takes place May 3rd.  We meet at the White Oak recreation area at Jordon Lake on highway64.  Go to the official Ride for Kids page to get all the info.

Thank you all for your fantastic and generous support of my efforts to help these children.

-Matt

Help Children and Win a Box of Rare Fuente Cigars Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 

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Make a donation to a great cause and you could win one of three incredible boxes of cigars. You could win a box of Opus X, Añejos, or Hemingway Maduros. Keep reading to find out how.   (more…)

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduro Tuesday, May 6 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 6.0″ x 47 ring

As if the Cameroon wrapped Hemingway cigars weren’t special enough, The Cigar Family makes an extra special, aged, limited release of the Hemingways with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. Like the Anejos, the Hemingway Maduros are usually released around the holidays as a special treat for the fans and customers of Arturo Fuente cigars. I gave some more background on the Hemingway line of cigars in my review of the Hemingway Best Seller so click on over and check that out while you’re here.

The Signature Maduro has a oily, dark, toothy wrapper that is simply gorgeous. It has the look of old, well worn leather. Like all the Hemingway’s the foot tapers down to a slightly odd looking nipple. The Hemingway and Hemingway maduro provide an excellent example of how much a wrapper can affect the flavor of a cigar. The maduro is a completely different and unique experience compared to its Cameroon wrapped sibling. The Cameroon version provides a classic Cameroon flavor with a sweet spice. The Signature Maduro starts off with flavors of cedar and a slight sweetness typical of a maduro wrapped cigar with flashes of black tea. As the smoke develops it gets very creamy and mellow. In the last third it starts to exhibit black pepper with a unique earthiness that I find hard to describe. It makes me think of wet earth, almost like I am tasting the rich damp soil the tobacco was grown in.

The construction, as is always the case with any Hemingway was superb. The burn was razor sharp and the as was grey and rough looking but held firm. It produces thick clouds of white smoke with a rich aroma. There is just nothing bad to say about this cigar. It is a wonderful experience from start to end and as good as the Cammie version of this cigar is, it pales in comparison to the complex experience that the maduro delivers. The Signature Maduro and the Work of Art Maduro are by far my favorites of the Hemingway line. If you have never had one, you simply must find one and try it. I usually don’t give maduros this much love, but this is a superb cigar.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: Arturo Fuente hemingway Signature Maduro

Rating – A

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Presidente Wednesday, Apr 23 2008 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring

I provided a bit of background on the Don Carlos line of cigars back when I reviewed the Don Carlos #4 for CigarsDirect.com in October of 2007. Rather than rehash all that here I am just going to cut to the chase today and provide you this link to go back and read the review of the #4 if you are interested. Now onto the good parts, smoking the Presidente…

The wrapper on this cigar is vieny and a splotchy brown. This is unusual for a Don Carlos. They usually have very few viens and the color is usually very smooth and uniform. The rustic appearance had no adverse effects on the smoke though. It was mellow and smooth, the flavors were creamy and refined. It was slightly sweet, typical of a good Cameroon. I found this one to be a little one dimensional compared to the smaller No. 4, but the flavor was so good it was still a very enjoyable smoke. As is always the case with the Don Carlos, the construction was perfection. the burn was razor sharp and the smoke was thick and creamy. These cigars never disappoint.

I used a new style of cut tonight and I have to say I really liked it. I used a double V-cut. This technique was shown to me by my friend Jamie who is a regular at Capital City Cigars in Raleigh. He calls it the “Butterfly Cut”. You use a V-cutter to make a small cut across the head, then you turn the cigar and make a second V-cut perpendicular to the first creating a shallow X across the head. It makes for a very clean cut and a good draw. I enjoyed it so much, it may become my cut of choice. Of course, it is best suited to larger ring gauges. I don’t know that I’d use it on anything smaller than a 48 ring. i highly recommend you give it a try. i think you’ll find you like it.

Get yours at CigarsDirect .com: Arturo Fuente Don Carlos

Rating – B+

Fuente Fuente Opus X Petit Lancero Wednesday, Mar 12 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Dominican Rosado
Filler: Dominican
Size: 6.25″ x 39 ring

Today, thanks to the generosity of my friends at CigarsDirect.com I am smoking one of the elusive Opus X from the Fuente Family. The Opus X line of cigars has garnered a lot of accolades since it’s introduction in 1995. Opus X cigars routinely score in the 90’s in Cigar Aficiando and Cigar Insider. That combined with some aggressive marketing and limited supply has led to a whole lot of hype surrounding this scarce stogie. They sport a Dominican grown, reddish brown, Rosado wrapper which in the case of the petit lancero is a little veiny and lumpy. The wrapper for these Dominican Puros are grown on the Chateau de la Fuente Estate in the DR and are reported to be cured in rum barrels. Once the cigars are rolled, they are aged for a year before being sent to market.

This particular cigar is a short and slender lancero with a tapered head. I love lanceros. I think they are a connoisseur’s size and if done right make for some of the most complex smokes you can get. It’s small ring gauge that leaves no room for error though as there isn’t enough room in them to hide substandard tobacco. The Opus X Petit Lancero starts off a little peppery but settles down quickly. It’s smooth with lots of caramel, and earth with a leathery finish. It is very complex medium to full bodied smoke. I expected it to pack a stronger punch than it did though. The buzz factor was nice but not the reputed knock you to your seat strength I heard and read from others. The flavors are very well defined making for an amazing smoking experience. The construction is excellent, with a perfect draw and a razor straight burn. Those two things are not easy to accomplish when making such a small ring gauge, and it is a testament to the skill of the rollers the Fuentes have making these cigars. The ash was so well formed, it looked like a little piece of concrete hanging off the end of the cigar. Even though I was a little disappointed with it’s power, this is the best of all the Opus X vitolas I have tried so far. I am afraid its price tag relegates it to a special occasion smoke though.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: Fuente Fuente Opus X Petit Lancero

You can win a free sealed box of Opus X Petit Lanceros courtesy of CigarsDirect.com, or one of 3 other boxes of cigars and support a great cause at the same time. Click here for details!!

Rating – A+

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