Genever Gin – the original gin

30 May 2009 8:36 am | Posted by siteadmin

We all love a nice G’n’T, and have become accustomed to the London style gin which has been immensely popular in this country for a hundred and fifty years or so now. Dry, clean and slightly aromatic, this wonderful spirit is vastly different to the drink it historically evolved from, the Dutch drink Genever, which was named after one of the constituents of the drink, the juniper berry. It was originally perceived to be a medicine (I wish my doctor would prescribe a bottle or two) when it was first created, however in the 17th century it soon became popular with British soldiers fighting in the ‘thirty years war’, who then introduced their ‘Dutch Courage’ to these shores. It soon took off in popularity in Britain, resulting in the encouragement of home production of ‘gin’ (as the name was shortened to) during the reign of William and Mary. The style was still sweet and rich, similar to the Genever of Holland.

This, however caused something of a ‘gin epidemic’ as the drink was cheap to manufacture and therefore to sell, and it is argued was safer to drink than London water! Therefore the drink became rampant, particularly amongst the poor resulting in a constantly drunken London, day and night (what’s changed). When the government tried to tackle the problem, creating new laws to make the cost of gin much more expensive, riots broke out. Eventually in the 1870’s the drink had been modified into the dry style which we know today, and gin became respectable again.

As a consequence of this, the original Dutch Genever became an unusual and rare drink on the British market, and that remains the case today, although there are some exceptional offerings out there, made in traditional styles, with historical packaging that are great examples of the original gin style.

The A van Weiss distillery has been operating since 1872 and is said to be the last remaining authentic distillery in Amsterdam. They pride themselves on generating their Genever from traditional recipes with an attention to detail in terms of the botanicals used to create balanced spirits.

A van Weiss still create two styles of genever, old and young. These are not a reference to the age of the gin, but rather refer to the method used in the creation of the spirit. Old Genever is made using traditional methods based on recipes from before 1900. This method involves fermenting the wheat and then distilling it three times to create a ‘korenwijn’ (malt wine). Herbs (botanicals) and juniper berries are then added to this malt wine, and it is then distilled a fourth time. This product can then be released young, or can be aged in oak barrels sometimes for up to twenty years. Old Genever tends to be quite sweet and aromatic and has a straw like colour.

The Amsterdamsche Old Genever Gin , is a great example of this style, distilled twice and using a combination of 100 malt wine and herbs, it has a pale yellow hue due to being aged in oak for six months. Soft and elegant but with a voluptuous palate, this is perfect drunk chilled straight from the fridge.

For a more serious Genever, Roggenaer Special Reserve Gin 15 Years , this gin is full of herby presence with a generous rye character balanced off with soft citrus notes. Gentle and refined this is a rare, yet great example of the A van Weiss distillery’s work.

Young Genever is made using methods that are post 1900, and involve directly fermenting and distilling the wheats until they are 96% alcohol, before adding the botanicals. This style is what is commonly known as gin and is much drier and cleaner, with a lighter body. This style is more associated with the ‘London’ style gins, but a good example from Holland would be the, Jonge Wees Geneva Gin , which is a light, smooth and slightly sweet spirit with an obvious juniper berry flavour.

For a contemporary style of Genever, in both production and packaging, try from another distillery, the stylish Dutch Zuidam Genever Gin , which is sweet, full bodied and aromatic, and delicious chilled from the freezer. Produced from two generations of master distillers, this Genever oozes modernity, but maintains a nod to the historical context of the drink. This excellent producer have also developed Zuidam Dry Gin ,  which is a small batch similar to a London style gin, creating a zippy balance of citrus and herbs, with a delightful slightly aromatic harmony.

Try Genever Gin with friends and seek their opinion on the differences.







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Wakefield Estate, Clare Valley, Australia

29 May 2009 9:33 am | Posted by siteadmin

Wakefield Estate is a leading family-owned winery established in 1969 in the Clare Valley region of Australia. Known as Taylors Wines, (unfortunately not any relation), they are one of the most highly regarded and awarded cool climate wine producers with the Wakefield brand being exported to Europe and the UK since 1985. Wakefield owns 400 hectares of vineyards surrounding the winery, making this the largest single estate vineyard in Australia. The first Wakefield Estate wines were released over 30 years ago with the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1973 winning gold medals at every national wine show including the prestigious Montgomery Trophy at the Adelaide Wine Show. A  reputation was forged and continues today with vintages of the same wines winning medals at national and international shows every year. The range consistently delivers quality and appeal their classic fruit definition and enviable ability to age.

A recently released wine is a juicy medium bodied Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills with fresh cherry flavours, spice and plum, lovely soft French oak gives some length to the finish. 

We have selected three wines from their newest Eighty Acres range. This  range was created to celebrate the heritage when in 1969 Bill Taylor first got his hands dirty planting vines on the traditional 80 acre blocks that make up the Taylor family vineyard, the first block was named “Eighty Acres”.   

Eighty Acres Chardonnay Viognier is a lovely wine, full of aromas of  apricot and spice with Clare Valley Chardonnay offering aromas of pineapple, peach, melon and citrus. The wine has a luscious, round mouthfilling palate, is medium to full bodied and a rich, almost creamy finish.

The Eighty Acres Cabernet Shiraz Merlot has a complex nose with aromas of blackcurrants, plum and mint with savoury characters of dried herbs, spice, cedar and chocolate adding to its charm. Rich in texture but with a soft, round mid palate with long elegant tannins and a velvety, persistent finish.

Our third wine is the Eighty Acres Shiraz Viognier with its overt lifted aroma of black berry fruits, plums, licorice and subtle apricots and underlying aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, dark chocolate, violets and cedar adding to the complexity. A medium bodied wine,  rich and smooth with delicious juicy flavours which last well after the wine has finished.

Another new comer with a lifted, complex aroma of subtle white peach and nectarine combined with another layer of aromas of cream and cashew nuts from barrel fermentation is Jaraman Chardonnay.  A combination of  Clare Valley grapes giving richness and weight with fleshy stone fruit flavours and the elegance and length coming from grapes grown in Adelaide Hills. A clean crisp structure with great persistence.

I have always enjoyed the flavours from Coonawarra wines and Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine with the characteristic Coonawarra black olive/mint bouquet with a powerful, sweet and fleshy palate from the Clare Valley. a a superb richness of cedary oak and spice with blackcurrant, mint and dark chocolate characters on the nose.

 To help introduce our customers to the fine Clare Valley wines from Wakefield Estate, we have introduced a special offer which we hope you will find attractive and an incentive to try these superb Australian wines.


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Food and Wine Pairing—Oily fish

9:14 am | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog  “ The Pairing of Food and Wine—an introduction to the subject ”  dated 15th May 2009)


INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–strong tasting oily fish including SALMON, TROUT, TUNA, MACKEREL and our old summer favourite SARDINES.

CHALLENGES:—–the challenge can be split into two. First, oily fish Such as those highlighted above and cooked on their own and served with simple vegetables. Second, the same fish being cooked in or served with strong tasty sauces that go some way to alter or disguise the natural oily flavours of the fish. The first is the greater challenge of the two since strong fishy oils alter most wine flavours and the only way to fight back is to challenge such dishes with quality wines that are very dry and high in acidity.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–our suggestions for oily fish without sauces would be two highly acidic but flavoursome wines, Bourgogne Aligote a single grape variety from the Burgundy region which is not too well known outside France and a great  favourite with the Burgundians when matching oily fish with wine. Our second selection is another enjoyable wine Franken Wein, also not so well known outside its own territory Germany, this wine made from the Silvaner grape is as dry as steel, but possesses lots of finesse and goes great with all the fish in question.

It’s a little easier matching wines with oily fish in sauces, you could even try a Loire red such as Chinon or Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil , they do have the dryness and acidity to counter the oily flavours. With whites you could try a Muscadet Sur Lie or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, both will bring pleasure to you and your fish course. An example of a classic fish dish in a sauce would be mackerel baked in a piquant mustard and white wine sauce. This notable combination would be well suited to either a White or Rose Sancerre.


MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on  to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and desserts. Also for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Roast Lamb, Grilled Lamb Chops and Lamb Kebabs.




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Tequila Patron

23 May 2009 1:07 pm | Posted by siteadmin

Fine tequila still remains one of the great underrated spirits, and this despite the introduction of a number of ‘ultra premium’ brands. It is also still commonly perceived as a beverage to be drunk in shots, and to be a rough spirit that is guaranteed to give one a severe hangover. This is due essentially to the fact that many of the big branded tequilas are blended and use only up to 49% of the agave spirit from which tequila evolves. The rest is made up from various other sugar canes, and as such the quality of these tequilas tends to be low, along with the price, and as such the drink has somewhat of a mixed reputation.

However, if one is prepared to spend a little more, the wonderful world of real tequila and the variety of flavours and characters becomes apparent. When looking for decent tequila, the first and most crucial thing to look for is that it is made from 100% agave (It will state this on the label). This means that the spirit is not blended with sugar cane, and as such one will find an altogether smoother, purer and more complex drink, containing a multitude of extraordinary flavours. These are further developed through the oak ageing process- Silver is unoaked, resposado slightly oaked, and anejo where the tequila can rest in oak barrels for a number of years.

Tequilas that are 100% agave tend to be more expensive as the agave cactus is at a premium, essentially due to the huge amount of low quality tequila produced to serve the world market. The agave plant takes around eight years to grow until the cabeza is ready for fermentation, and so they tend to be in short supply, hence the increased price for the higher quality product.

There are many premium brand tequilas on the market, all of which are worth a try due to the variety of flavours. A great starting point would be to try the Patron range of tequilas, which are all simply stunning, and are perfect examples of exactly what this spirit can offer. Beautifully packaged in hand crafted bottles and with an exquisite attention to detail, I really cannot recommend these tequilas highly enough.

There is one thing that I need to make clear though- to really enjoy these tequilas, do not shoot them. Sip them either neat or with ice, as one would a fine brandy or whisky, and then you will get the most out of them. After that don’t forget to get the shaker out and make some fine margaritas!

The Patron Tequilas: 

Patron Silver Tequila is a simply stunning clean and pure tequila, and many experts mark this as their favourite due to its soft and light character, as opposed to the richer oakier versions. This is the perfect tequila to create a really refreshing Margarita as it has an excellent balance of citrus, acidity, and smoothness. The refinement of this tequila means it is also highly recommended sipped on the rocks.

Patron Reposado Tequila contains the same qualities as the silver, but is oak aged for six months. This imparts a slight oaky tang to the finish on the palate and therefore has a less clean yet more complex palate. This can be used for those who prefer a slightly richer Margarita, and is also excellent neat.

Patron Anejo Tequila is blended from a selection of tequilas which have all been aged in small white oak barrels for a minimum of twelve months. It is a very subtle and complex tequila and is distinctive in that each batch has a blend variation to produce perfectly balanced tequila. This is soft and refreshing, yet highly complex due to the wood ageing, and along with the subtle citrus notes, it has nuances of gingerbread. Patron Anejo Tequila should be sipped neat or on the rocks.

Gran Patron Platinum Tequila is billed as the “world’s finest platinum tequila”- big words, but this may just be true. Triple distilled, this is incredibly smooth and elegant, with soft notes of citrus and pepper. For those extravagant cocktail drinkers out there, Gran Patron Platinum Tequila will make you a simply sublime margarita that will be a once in a lifetime experience. This wonderful tequila comes in a handmade crystal bottle, which is hand signed and individually numbered, and is further packaged in a deluxe maple wood box.

Patron Gran Burdeos Tequila is an extraordinary tequila which is aged in a mixture of American oak and French oak for twelve months. It is then re-distilled, and then racked in Bordeaux barrels from some of the top Chateau. This gives this tequila a fruity aroma reminiscent of fine Bordeaux, and an unbelievable complexity and depth of character. This really does need to be sipped as one would a fine Cognac, to fully appreciate the quality. Patron Gran Burdeos comes beautifully packaged in a hand crafted wooden box made from black walnut, along with a custom corkscrew and a crystal stopper.

Tequila Patron XO Cafe Liqueur is a blend of ultra premium tequila and the natural essence of fine coffee. Unlike most coffee liqueurs, this is dry, but has a concentrated richness from the slightly higher alcohol volume. This is beautiful sipped over ice, smooth and velvety with an elegant tequila balance, and can even be used as a dessert topping. Mixologists are currently using this wonderful liqueur in a variety of cocktails at the moment, and highly recommended are the Café Royal, the Garter Belt, the XO Nightcap, and the Ladies Night.



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The Pairing of Food and Wine…an introduction to the subject

15 May 2009 6:59 am | Posted by siteadmin

There is no doubt that good food and wine are one of the great ways of bringing pleasure to close ones and friends alike and with all the remarkable varieties of  flavour and tastes, matching food with wine will always be an engaging and delightful challenge and pastime. Although it should be noted, that in the main, taste is subjective and only by experimenting with different wines and the pairings of food and wine will lead to those wonderfully more interesting and blissful moments in life, which is what good food and wine should be all about.

Travel, food and wine are also another rewarding combination. What’s more agreeable than say leisurely traveling the West Coast of Ireland especially around the coastline of County Galway and the wilds of Connemara and when around midday comes it’s a must to find time to stop off for lunch at Moran’s Oyster Cottage ( along side the river just south of Galway City near Clarinbridge. Then to indulge in the most enjoyable pleasure of tasting cold fresh native oysters in the shell with a few drops of lemon juice, some local warm brown bread and of course a large glass of chilled Chablis Premier Cru, Montmain, a timeless and irresistible partnership it must be said. I am sure you will agree that the combination of good food, wine and travel has to be the ultimate experience for the gastronomic adventurer.

Those who enjoy good wine often spend time in selecting and tasting wines that to them fully match their taste requirements. Those who enjoy good food follow a similar path to reach their expectations. Now when it comes to pairing both these requirements together, for many this is where the problems start, and this is where we can be of help.

Is your time well spent pairing food and wine, are the end results rewarding, is the process mythology or fact, or perhaps a combination of both? These are all very interesting questions, especially since we know some foods will just about go well with any wines, red, white or rose, Grilled Chicken would be  would be most agreeable with all three styles. On the other hand you can easily destroy a combination of good food and wine, for example an obvious clash would be eating a light Strawberry Mousse with a heavy red Chateauneuf-du-Pape, both the food and wine would sadly lose out. In most cases exceedingly good results are attainable with not too much effort, as with Oysters and Chablis, or for instance try a chilled sweet wine from Bordeaux or a Monbazillac with Blue Stilton or Roquefort and a big chunk of crusty bread, yes you will definitely find them a perfect marriage.

How do we develop the perfect combinations and partnerships between good food and wine? Research is one way, trial and error is another, or why not click on  and review what is one of the quickest and most helpful food and wine matching directories available, guiding one through numerous dishes with alternative selections of wines to match most tastes. Distinctive cuisine deserves the accompaniment of good wine and hopefully this article and our following publications will be of help.

This intoduction to pairing food and wine will be followed over the coming months by many other interesting articles discussing the matching of specific food groups or individual dishes with many different wine options. Watch out for our next article which will focus on matching fish rich in oil like trout, salmon and mackerel with everyday drinking wines




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Great Friends Cheese and Wine…an introduction to the pairing of cheese and wine

11 May 2009 9:08 am | Posted by siteadmin

The French and Italians may eat much more cheese than we the British do, but as individuals we eat and enjoy a far greater variety. The average French or Italian person tend to stay loyal to the many superb farmhouse cheeses of their locallity or region and may only eat on a regular basis three or four different cheese types throughout their lifetime.

Like our wine habits the British have no such loyalties or inhibitions – one week we could be eating soft or goats cheese from a variety of different European countries, another week we will be sampling blue or hard cheeses from as far away as Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

But, are we the Britsh eating the best?  For there is cheese and there is artisanal and handcrafted cheeses. Is the answer in the word choice?

Artisanal and handcrafted cheeses offer inspiring flavours, textures and noble subtleties that many supermarket cheeses don’t begin to approach. Despite the huge dominance of factory produced cheses, there are now (thank God) many more specialist independants than there were say ten or fifteen years ago promoting high quality individual cheeses from UK, Ireland and Continental farmhouses, often supplying splendid and unique wines to match. I would say today unlike any time in the past the combined choice of fine cheeses and wine is now simply enormous.

The more we support the INDEPENDANTS, the greater the variety and availability of these natural and very flavoursome cheeses will become, as well as sound advice and of course personal service. The more choice we have the better for everyone.

Cheese is a fascinating subject and shares a long list of similarities with wine. Cheese like wine, is fermented to create a product very different and infinitely more intricate than the original basic material it’s produced from. Like wine, cheeses age until they reach their level of maturity and perfection, then of course they can travel downhill.

Similar to red wine and port, to maximize flavours cheese must be brought to room temperature before it is served. Cheeses come in many different styles, each with their own unique set of characteristics and some specialist cheeses can take years to mature. Again good wines have their own unique styles, characteristics and also take many years to mature.

France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have controls and appellations of origin for cheese, just as they do for wine. Farmstead cheese made from the milk of the cheese makers own animals is comparable to chateau or estate bottled wine made from the winegrower’s own grapes.

Despite the above similarities highlighted and despite the widespread belief that cheese and wine are great friends and natural partners, matching them is not at all simple. The perception that cheese has to go with red wine or port is not correct. In fact, the the wine that often works best is white, not red, and often sweet, not a dry white wine.  But, selecting the right cheese for a good red wine can lead you to heaven, or to some other wonderful place.

Matching wine with cheese can also be very personal as people do have different taste requirements and perceptions. For example one may like dry soft goats cheese, but dislike a salty blue cheese. A very sound rule to note, is that a good cheese will make an average wine seem even greater, while an average cheese will most definitely spoil a great wine

Go to and visit our section specialising in matching  over one hundred cheese types with wine. You can search by imputing your own cheese preference, or select via a milk type option, or scroll down our huge selection from around the World.  I am sure you will find this application most helpful.

Further enjoy the process of seeking natural partners by reading soon my next article which helps take the complexity out of the selection process. The article will give examples of matching five generic groups of cheeses with generic groups of wine partners



Happy Cheese Days

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St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur

8 May 2009 11:45 am | Posted by siteadmin

st-germainA wonderful refreshing Spring and Summer drink, St-Germain is made from freshly handpicked wild elderflower blossoms which produce an unique stylish creation which is so delicious to drink. It is hard to imagine with all todays technology that only 40-50 men will pick the wild blossoms in early Spring, bundle them into sacks and then bicycle down the hillside to the local market. Within a week or so  they would have picked the entirety of St Germain   blossoms for the year which  means very limited quantities .This product of nature produces a  wonderful sweet nectar which has a curious and tantalising melange of flavours with hints of citrus and tropical fruits, try it and see.story_011

This liqueur is excellent just on its own, poured over ice, its flavour is subtle, delicate and very captivating. Savour on a warm evening just after a fine meal.

There are many other ways to enjoy this artisanal work of art, such as the exciting combination which shows off its complex fruity flavours and  almost honeyed sweetness, is to simply mix with chilled very dry white wine, such as Signature Sauvignon Blanc, its so refreshing and also just as good with sparkling Cinzano Prosecco.

St- Germain has excellent mixibility qualities and I have tried St Germain as a base to a number of cocktails especially with  sauvignon blanc,  gin,  tequila  and  champagne. Please check and see what you think.

Click on which will take you to our specialist cocktail page where you may  select many other cocktail recipes.


Happy St-Germain Days



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Wines of Mallorca…Vinyes Mortitx

7 May 2009 9:15 am | Posted by siteadmin

 MALLORCA….Always Beautiful Sandy Beaches with lots of Sunshine and now Wonderfully Delicious Wines

With regard to great holidays in the sun, Mallorca is well known all around the world, but  with regards to Mallorcan wines outside this beautiful island, they are not so well known. Maybe the reason for their limited availability outside the island is that only a dozen or so years ago most of the red wines produced were boardering on the harsh side and lacking finesse, while the white wines were mainly dry, thin and too acidic, only being enjoyed by the locals with most tourists sticking to beer, Menorcan gin and of course jugs of fruit filled sangria.

Although the wine making state of affairs has dramatically changed for the better in recent years, even so, the wines are sadly still relatively unknown outside the Ballearic Islands. There are many vineyards large and small around Mallorca with about twenty now producing stunning red and white wines along with some very decent rose, wines of such quality would command at least double the price if they were produced in Rioja or Ribera del Duero.  Many of these imagen2instalacion2vineyards I have visited over the past four to five years and can truly testify to the huge changes made to both facilities and the processing of wine e.g. modern stainless steel equipment and storage tanks, refrigeration and proper control of the fermentation temperature, automatic irrigation systems, much experimenting and more use of oak barrels for maturing wines and most importantly greatly increased planting and quality spacing of the more popular grape varities like cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, chardonnay, viognier and malvasia and these varities are now producing many deliciously tasting varietal wines as well as carefully crafted blends.

Mallorca is perceived by most visitors to be an island in the sun, with many fine and interesting coastal resorts and beautiful golden beaches with crystal clear and seductively tainted azure waters and then to be arid,dry and uninteresting further inland where even today very few venture. For certain that is not the case, many parts of the central plain are extremely fertile, lush with ever ending fields of natures flowers, sweet smelling herbs and tiny leaved shrubs. Follow the ever winding narrow roads lined either side with wild poppys and you will also come upon acres and acres of  fields of deep red soil producing each year successions of crops like strawberries, artichokes, potatos and green salads. Further on you could find huge orchards ripe with growing peaches, nectarines, oranges, lemons, almonds and we must not forget to mention thousands and thousands of olive trees. The whole island is a paradise, sadly to so few visitors.

The centre of the island around Inca and Manacor (note, Nadal territory )  is where the majority of  Mallorcan vineyards are located, although you can find small industrious and successful growers around other parts of the island. Traditionally the grape of the island has and still is Monastrell, on its own it simply does not produce good red wines, but blended with other varities, the results can be simply outstanding. 

imagen2presentacion3Out of the many first class vineyards in Mallorca our favourite has to be MORTITX, a sleeping beauty  and that is why we import, retail and wholesale six of their wonderfully complex, deep and rounded wines. Mortitx  is located in the quiet North East of  Mallorca a few kilometors from Pollensa on the steep rising road from Pollensa to Soller up in a hidden valley within the Tramontana  mountain range. An awsome and captivating  location with panoramic views looking down on to the enormous and attractive bays of Pollensa and Alcudia. Visitors are most welcome to taste and buy wines at the winery whose location is breathtakingly sited below  rugged and steep  pinky mauve coloured mountains with eagles and kites souring high above the sun baked pine trees and cliff tops and all around you take in the inviting scent of wild rosemary, thyme and juniper. This most appealing winery is owned by a number of private shareholders,many of whom own hotels and fine restaurants on the island and make available these exceptional Mortitx wines for sale in their own establishments.

From this magnificent vineyard we list the following wines:

Mortitx Negre Anyada Tinto 

            Mortitx Rodal Pla Tinto  

             Mortitx Syrah 

Mortitx L’u Tinto 

Mortitx Rosat  

 Mortitx Blanc  

Mortitx Dolce de Gel





These wines can be purchased via our website or by visiting our Retail Outlet near Southampton

For Food Matches with the Mortitx Wines please check on which takes you to our websites specialist section on ” Matching Wines with Foods” then just type in the name of the wine in the box located under “TYPE IN WINE”.

Happy Mallorcan Days

 Updated 23 September 2010

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