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Dark Island Reserve - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark Island ReserveDark Island Reserve

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

122 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 122
Reviews: 66
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.68%
Wants: 72
Gots: 30 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: John_M on 01-15-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 122 | Reviews: 66
Photo of jmdrpi
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

330ml swing top bottle, purchased at the brewery.

Black with tan head. Nice pleasant aroma of whisky, vanilla, milk chocolate. Great taste and very smooth mouthfeel. This ones a winner.

Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 3rd April 2012.Pours into my Isle of Arran glass a deep dark chocolate brown with a half finger cappuccino colored head atop.Dark fruit,brown sugar,and buttery caramel in the nose,a decent amount of alcohol is detected.Brown sugar and buttery caramel on the palate with alcohol infused dark fruit as well,light to almost zero carbonation in the feel.A great CHRISTmas eve sipper,expensive but hey it's the holidays.

Photo of Budinetz
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Bottled on November 12th, 2012. Poured from a flip top 75 cl bottle.

Pours a very dark black (50 SRM) with a tan colored head. Very little lacing present. Smells of roasted malt and a strong alcohol presence is detected with a bit of a raison note and slight vanilla. Tastes warming to the lips from the high abv with a sweet, smoky flavor up front and then finishes dry with a bit of astringency from the roasted malt. This is a beer you want to drink slowly and share with others. This is definitely a beer that would benefit from aging. Drink at 55-60 degrees.

Cheers!

Photo of KYGunner
3.94/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This had a very dark and viscous pour of, what appeared to be, a very lightly carbonated stout.

The nose gave off a vinous date, licorice, chocolate, sherry and then a vinous alcohol.

I get a lot of chocolate on the palate with a backdrop of dry roasted coffee and some smoky qualities and malty grain.

The feel is mostly smooth and thick but had a slightly dry and tangy finish.

Very interesting and tasty ale but I prefer a touch more complexity on the tongue for the style.

Photo of soccerman7
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Brought from Orkney thanks Stan!

A - beautiful pitch black with a thin head.

S - amazing raisin and toffee notes. Intense.

T - wow. Like drinking scotch. Dark fruits and wood. Malt sweetness.

M - lingers and smooth.

O - simple amazing. Worth getting if you see it.

Photo of dcmchew
4.74/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 15th November 2013.
Pours black with some dark brown hues, low beige head goes away fast and really sticks to the glass.
Smells awesome. Dark roasted malts with milky chocolate, huge caramel, low coffee, lots of vanilla and dark spices, mild dry dark fruit, not very big oaky barrel notes though.
Whiskey pops up in the taste more than in the smell. Roasted malts with coffee and dark chocolate, along with charcoal notes mix nicely with the strong caramel sweetness. Really balanced malt component. The dark fruit (figs, plums, dates) aren't alone, there are red grapes (bringing a mild mustiness), red berries and some faint sour cherries. Typical whiskey barrel aged vanilla spice, along with some mild cinnamon, cocoa powder and faint licorice. Earthy feel mostly, not as barelly as expected, with some oak chips, smoked wood and peat covered up by the roast. Whiskey is felt though, really clear and nice, providing a nice excuse for the warm booze. Hops aren't the star, so they're pretty low in the finish, still helping the roast bitterness a pinch.
Mouthfeel is creamy, buttery, hence a nice butterscotch feel to the whole brew. Finish is really dry and bitter from the charcoal. As it warms up, the sweet elements (the fruitiness, the caramel) start to cover up all the roughness. Aftertaste gets bittersweet, rather than ashy.
Great beer, a perfect "Orcadian Ale" enhanced by the whisky aging. The best from the brewery and personally it surpassed some russian imperials and scotch ales that i usually hold dear.

Photo of mick303
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A blackish dark brown, slight whispy lace, thick oiliness. Little residual lacing owing to the barrel time.

S - roasty malt, creamy cherriness, some oaky vanilla sweetness, nutmeg earthy notes with some alcohol spice.

T - sweet start with some oaky whisky presence, smooth and estery alcohol, lots of complex character develops with the malt and barrel influences, a vanilla malty finish, surprisingly lightt with lots of fruit there also, fig, cranberry, not much hops to speak of. End is quite dry.

M - big body and silky liquor lot of smooth vanilla and fig notes, and then dark chocolate, soothing sipper, warming on aftertaste and smooth.

A lovely interplay of complex flavours, it is malty and fruity with vanilla and oak, big presence but so smooth drinking, one to try for sure.

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.84/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with an almost non-existent head.
Nose shows caramel, peat, charred oak, roasted malt, smoke, bready malt and heavy sweet burnt figs.
Sweet flavours at first too, before some roasted malt and charred oak roll thorugh. A fair bit of booze too.
Body feels a bit light.

Photo of deg
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I poured the beer into a glass chalice. It was dark. Some light got through, and the color was dark brown. The head was coffee with cream color. I could smell some fruit. The taste started out heavy on fruit and vanilla and oak. I couldn't taste much peat or other flavors I associate with whisky initially. As I worked through the bottle, more roasty and peaty flavors came out. The beer was easy on my mouth, thick and rich. I noticed a warmth from the alcohol instead of a burn.

Photo of Muhly
4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Bottled in April 2012 according to the label.

A-dark brown/opaque. Dark tan/brown head pours two fingers with a vigorous pour. Low retention with a wisp of foam remaining after the head drops.

S-dark malts with hints of smoke and charred barrel. Smells a little boozy.

T-a big wallop of roasted dark malts with hints of smoke and oak. Burnt toffee and licorice linger a bit on the tongue.

M-seems pretty round and full. Coats the tongue and finishes with some warm alcohol.

O-an intesely dark ale that slaps you across the face with its boldness. Could have perhaps benefited from another 6 months in the bottle.

Photo of nickfl
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Orkney dark island reserve

A - Pours with one finger of light tan foam on top of an opaque, black body. The head settles at a moderate pace and leaves light foam.

S - Chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and lots of smooth whiskey and smoke,.

T - Dark caramel and toffee up front with a touch of molasses. Some vanilla and chocolate with nutmeg in the middle. Finishes with more dark sugar, spice and whiskey as well as vanilla and cinnamon.

M - Medium-thick body, moderately low carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - nicely done, the aroma is much better than the flavor, but everything works well in the end.

Photo of kylehay2004
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Two finger head that dissipates rapidly on a jet black body. Aroma is stronglyof whiskey and scotch, mint, molasses, cinnamon. Flavors are very dull, with the whiskey understated in sharpness but still providing flavor. Supporting notes include dark chocolate, citrus, earthy hops, rye breads and licorice. The aroma is great, the flavor is a little mild but still keeps the whiskey flavor while staying very drinkable. Very nice whiskey aged brew

Photo of beerdrifter
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful dark brown pour with a one finger beige head with minimal retention and crazy lacing. The nose is earthy with rich dark caramel malts dominating along with hints of mocha. As it warms, a strong vinous character emerges along with evidence of the barrel aging and hints of whiskey. The taste follows suit, dominated initially by loads of roasty cocoa, espresso, and dark chocolate. As with the nose, the taste really opens up as it warms. Unlike some big barrel aged beers, it's not in your face. The woody vinous notes are subtle but so delicious. Hints of oak, vanilla, whiskey, and dark fruit round it out nicely. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a subtle sweet and dry finish. Overall, this is my definition of a comfort beer. Big, but not too big, rich and bold, but not in your face. A world class beer!

Photo of BMMillsy
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled April 3, 2012, poured Feb 1, 2013z Pours dark brown almost black. Big very light brown head. Very pretty. Aroma is sherry, peat whiskey, hints of chocolate, raisins, anise, licorice, and a bit of roasted grain and smoke. A lot going on here. Flavor of a nice scotch, took my breath away on the first sip. Really not expecting that. Not boozy but lots of peat and whiskey here with a warm finish. Only medium thickness on the palate. Lasting explosion of chocolate that leaves a bit of sweetness on the palate. Smokey oak with a red wine (merlot) quality about it. Very intense sipper, but surprisingly drinkable as the alcohol is not strong (though the scotch flavor certainly is). Something everyone should seek out. Awesome bottle and labeling, too. And I can recork this for later, which is nice.

Photo of biboergosum
4.01/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml, very attractive bottle and label. I've been sitting on this one for over a year, as it's from the Nov 2011 hand bottling, which apparently numbered at 2933. Seems to me the fitting start to a Robert Burns' night, especially one that falls on a Friday. To quote the man himself: 'Critics! Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame'. I'll keep that in mind here, dear auld Rabbie.

This beer pours a solid, unrelenting black, with nothing in the way of even the slightest highlight, and two fingers of bubbly, fairly creamy brown mocha head, which settles away at a lazy, but steady pace, leaving some broad swaths of limestone formation lace around the glass.

It smells of musty black fruit - duly soused by strong dark red wine - mildly roasted bready caramel malt, thin vanilla, some dampened woody astringency, watery orange juice, and a further spiced rum/whisky alcohol tint. Yup, this one's gonna be a boozer. The taste is bittersweet chocolate-dipped cherries, injected with a shot of brandy for good measure and grandmas everywhere, more softly acrid, pulpy orange, a middling caramel/toffee malt backbone, edgy oak barrel wood tannins, diluted vanilla, and a musty, earthy wet leafy dryness, where the wetness is alcohol, albeit on its best behavior.

The carbonation is pretty sedate, but does well enough to offer support to the whole deal, the body a sturdy, stout (more on that later) medium-full weight, and smooth at most measurable junctures, the flat woodiness a sometime offender. It finishes on the sweet side, with the caramel malt finally coming around, the dark vinous fruit holding fast, and the warm vanilla oakiness completing the lulling circle.

It is a bit strange that I get more wine barrel than whisky cask in terms of woody adjuncts, given the proclaimed Orkney-local production methods. Oh well, esters are a funny thing, they can act as the chimera, rendering things in a slightly different manner from what they truly are. Anyhow, this is a splendid Scottish ale, with strong dry stout predilections, well integrated barrel notes, and a much more subtle alcohol profile than I was led to believe up until quite recently. Worth the wait, indeed, and I feel that I have not let today's celebratory poet down, at least not yet.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle pour for New Brew Thursday's 3rd Anniversary event held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Thanks to Wowcoolman for sharing this one.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, dark fruits, port, whisky, and wood. Taste is much the same with a slightly sour fruity flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is tasty and rich.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn snifter. April 2012 bottle.

Appearance - Deep brown. Completely opaque. Small khaki head. Big bubbles as it settles. Very leggy upon swirling.

Smell - Buckets of butterscotch, whoah. Peaty whiskey permeates behind it, but butterscotch all over. Deep caramel malts, verging on chocolate malts.

Taste - Much more whiskey presence here, but still a ton of butterscotch. The whiskey is smokey and peaty and, in the aftertaste, almost salty. The finish is a little bitter, perhaps exacerbated by the briny flavor.

Mouthfeel - Not terribly heavy, but also no alcohol. I'm looking for a bit more chewiness to it for all the barrel it has. The finish is whiskey dominant.

Overall - Obviously a far cry from Dark Island, but that isn't a bad thing. Hell of an expensive bottle, but that doesn't surprise me so much these days. Good beer and very different from normal stuff I drink.

Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750ml swing top bottle into Globe glass.

A. 1 finger of dark tan head. Color is all black. Pretty thick lacing. Really good retention. Pours out looking like a stout.

S. Hot damn. Sucker smells boozey. Has a defiantly whiskey smell to it. Get past that and there is quite a bit of malt aroma or roasted malt, and caramel. Has a bit of a spicey background that is somewhat hard to pin down.

T. The aroma had me feeling like I would be sipping a whiskey bomb. The flavor is quite refined and quite good. This definitely borders the line between Scottish Ale and Stout. Really nice flavors of both styles. Roasted malt, caramel, some oakiness on the finish. All while being pretty damn smooth. Some pretty sweet vanilla notes come out more as it warms.

M. Medium/full bodied. Medium carbonation.

O. Aroma had me a little concerned. Taste didnt dissapoint. I was pretty impressed with this beer. Has really good qualities of a Scottish ale and Imperial Stout. Good beer. Lots of flavor and smooth to drink.

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huh - bought 2 bottles of this in Edinburgh in August 2009. Opened one upon returning home from that trip and opened the other 2 weeks ago.... Quite different experiences...

The first bottle drank like a supremely mellow Imperial or Baltic Porter (sorry, best comparative "style" that comes to mind). Mineral and light-medium bodied with a smooth, seemingly aged cocoa/coffee-roasty center. Alcohol barely poking through. Fairly well-balanced, if nothing spectacular and surely easy to put back the entire bottle of.

After countless proposed yet passed-on occasions for which to open the second bottle, I along with my good friend and brother finally opened the second bottle less than a month ago and we found a brew way further along in its development -

It poured out like brackish swamp water - the darkest brown with an almost grey tinge to the slight and scummy, plump-bubbled, and swift-diminishing foam. Not looking like a "Scottish ale" - it's a dark-fruited porter, my friend...

Purple grape skins and vaguely port wine in the nose. Oxidation, sweet corruption, for sure. Nearly off-putting unless you knew what you may be getting into. Some black licorice and char, though mellow.

Hardly a chore to sip, but I'm glad we shared this... Actually wish we would've aged this for another 3 years - mellow it all further. Much vinous, but pleasing against the fading background of roasty, chocolaty malt though, as I suggested, it probably could've benefited from an extra-extended conditioning. Caught it in transition?

Moderately silky and smooth going down - maybe something best savored low-60s in a snifter (we used cruddy Ikea drinking glasses, roughly mixer-shaped - bleck! i know...).

Hey - I wasn't blown away initially (3 years back) by this, however, drinking it now, I've probably for the first time experienced a "cellared" (if not ideally) strong ale. Interesting. Some things to take forward...

Photo of zaphodchak
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Some light lacing coffee opaque brown, some brown highlights.

Smell portends greatness. Faint booze, port, smokiness. Truly magnificent.

Taste does the nose justice. Port, a trace of soy sauce and leather, finishing on plum, black currant, and a trace of spice. This is amazing.

Oily, not too too thick, but pretty thick.

This is a great beer. The price point suggests it and the beer delivers. At the price, I probably wouldn't buy it, but if you have a chance to try it (or go in halvsies), I highly recommend it.

Photo of SawDog505
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 20 oz Duvel tulip, bottled in late 2011. Pours a magnificent almost black with a 3 inch dark tan head, with beautiful lace. Smell is dark fruit, leather, tobacco, apricot, smoke, dark chocolate, and whiskey. Taste is all that, apricot starts, with leather and dark chocolate, and obviously some whiskey in the finish. Body is medium to heavy perfect, great amount of carbonation, a little dry as expected, and drinkability is exactly what you would expect. Thanks Tom for bringing this to celebrate my daughters birth, excellent beer!

Photo of danieelol
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Chris @ Slowbeer

Bottled 27 March 2010. Consumed 16 June 2012.

Pours dark brown/black with small head but great lacing.

Smell was apparent when I first popped the cap. Lovely potent whisky/chocolate aromas. Behind that and the yummy booze there's a fairly strong apple juice note. Lots of caramel and oak. Pretty awesome nose really.

Taste is again lots of smoke. There's also quite a lot of somewhat sour apple juice. Seriously, it's almost exactly like apple juice. Balanced though, and really pretty drinkable for 10%. Booze comes through, but gets more balanced and malty as I get through the bottle.

Mouthfeel is medium and a little sweet, still manageable.

Overall a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of AngusOg
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007- Swing Top 750 ml Bottle
Decided to crack this one Saturday night while relaxing and wacthing the Stanley Cup finals. Poured into a snifter. Dark black with just the slight trace of a tan head. Smells strong of whiskey, some choclate and vanilla, some fig/dried fruit, some roastiness, but alot of whiskey, i feel like i'm about to take a sip of whiskey rather than beer. Taste is much the same, although luckily not quite dominated by the whiskey as much as the aroma is. Also, definitely got better as it warmed, (probably should have let it sit a bit before cracking it),the other flavors shine through more. Definitely not a lot of carbonation here. Overall, maybe a tad too much whiskey for my liking for this beer to truely blow me away, but still made for a very enjoyable Saturday night while sipping on this one. (slept well too.)

Photo of mdagnew
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml swing top bottle bought from Peckhams, Edinburgh... aged for about 3 years...

Poured jet black - nothing gets through even when held up to the light. Creamy brown head poured quite thick and fizzy then faded fairly quickly to almost nothing... very faint lacing...

Aroma - Strong roasted malts, chocolate mixed with strong espresso coffee, some blackcurrent/blackberry notes, leathery, woody, liquorice / anise, good vanilla traces, some tar, spicy hops, treacle/burnt sugar, some alcohol traces...

Taste - Strong roasted malt bitterness, smokey notes, vanilla, definite black coffee, creamy dark chocolate, peppery hops, lots of liquorice, some nutty sweetness, molasse and treacle, alcohol warmth just coming through...

Feel - Very smooth and creamy with just a little sharpness after... pretty full bodied...

Overall - An excellent barrel aged brew... highly recommended if you can track it down..

Photo of AgentZero
3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Brown colored beer with some red on the edges. Tan head left some spots and stick on the sides.

S - Not quite what I would have expected from a Scottish Ale, and also seems a bit infected. Some butter, whiskey, toffee and sharpie.

T - Peaty whiskey with some dark fruits, toffee, and a bit of brown sugar. The butter taste is still there as well. I find it all kind of weird, not necessarily unpleasant, but wouldn't say I'm a huge fan.

M - Lighter bodied, dry finish, lower carbonation.

O - Was not a very big fan of this beer, but it could very well be taht I didn't understand the style well enough. That being said, I just didn't really like drinking it a whole lot.

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Dark Island Reserve from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 122 ratings.