Dark Island Reserve - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
Dark Island ReserveDark Island Reserve

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

113 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 113
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 10.95%
Wants: 57
Gots: 25 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: John_M on 01-15-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 113 | Reviews: 65 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml from Bruisin' Ales. Pours dark grey with bubbly head, looks caskish. Scotch whiskey in the nose. The tasting begins with scotch whiskey, nuttiness, and ends with some roast malt, chocolate and smoked peat in a long finish. Very good, it must be shared.

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
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 olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of kylehay2004
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
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 Knapp85
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened this and shared a bottle with my cousins at my grandmothers 80th birthday party over the weekend. I had been super excited to try this one since I got it a few months ago. The Beer poured out black, and thick looking. There was a thin brownish colored head on top that hung around for a good while but since I was sipping this for over an hour but the time I finished it was gone. The smell of this beer is awesome, the aromas of whiskey, wood, apple, cherry, roasted malts and chocolate all spew from the glass into the nose. The taste of this beer is really really nice, the aromas that are on the nose come full force onto the tongue for a really crazy joyride of flavors from start to finish. The apples and cherries come in a little tart up front but the roast malts keep it sweet and then in the aftertaste the chocolate dominates without and doubt. The mouthfeel of this beer has a really nice semi-thick body to it with some light carbonation. Overall this beer is very impressive. Hands down it has to be Orkney's best and I really enjoy Skullsplitter. This one just has so much to offer, it's not cheap by any means but I could see myself having this one again someday.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a oily-looking, black body with a scant, brown head.

Smell: Rather peaty aroma with notes of molasses-coated grains, anise, chocolate.

Taste: Chewy, sweet dark maltiness. Smokey peat character throughout. Hint of aniseed. A few drops of Maggi seasoning. A jigger worth of scotch. Only a very slight underlying bitterness. A touch of vanilla, dark chocolate, and molasses. Sugary, smokey, warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Rather mild carbonation.

Drinkability: A fine, reasonably complex beer packaged in a classy-looking bottle.

Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
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 biboergosum
4.01/5  rDev -2.4%
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 JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of nickfl
4.11/5  rDev 0%
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 Slatetank
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

many thanks to FooFaa for sharing this bottle - poured chilled in my Allagash cervoise.

A - a deep translucent brown with ruby tinged hues and black edges w/ a quickly settling tan head which becomes a sliver

S - A black currant aroma -vinous w/ an oaky whiskey scent that accents. The odor has similarities to sherry with an almost red grape aroma

M - The feel has dried fruit-like sweetness but settles rapidly w/ spice and toast and mild nutty edge of the oak. There is a slight tang of yeast in the toasty finish

T - The taste has a slight tart berry and currant entry w/ very mild smokey whisky finish which is not as strong as in the nose. The flavor has gentle roasted malt and plummy effect w/ an element of whisky scotch flavor rolled in but not pronounced enough -the taste starts well but drops off with a truncated dry finish

D - I enjoyed this -it is a tasty beer, but not outrageously good. I was glad I got to try it as I liked the original, but I couldn't justify going out of my way for a repeat - taste - Thanks to FooFaa for sharing this!

Photo of MasterSki
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Firstly, I don't think this beer is retired as I'm certain I heard of a new batch being available. In any case, my bottle was from the September 3rd, 2008 batch of 1568 bottles. Thanks to Reagan1984 for picking up this pricey offering for me. Served in a Cigar City snifter.

A - Quick-dissolving tan foam settles to a thin collar, leaving some concentric wisps, but minimal splotches of lace. Dark brown body with some reddish highlights when held to the light.

S - Extremely buttery - reminds me of fudge actually. There's some milk chocolate, cashews, and toffee, followed by an unusual juxtaposition of salty whisky, smoked meats, and light permanent marker. My friends think this is infected, but I just think it's a very buttery beer with a very salty scotch influence.

T - The taste has more of the whisky influence to it, with notes of smoke, peat, salt, iodine, and wood over top of a toffee, chocolate, and dark fruit malt backdrop. Less overt buttery flavors, which is appreciated, but also not quite as rich as the aroma. Char and peat constitute the lingering finish.

M - This is one extremely dry and tannic beer, and the body is shockingly thin for 10% - I'd call it medium-light in fact. There's a bit of stickiness mid-palate, but the alcohol is shockingly well-hidden. Carbonation is fairly low.

D - A very strange flavor combination here, and one that is likely very polarizing. Packaging this in a 750ml bottle was certainly a mistake, as five of us were barely able to finish half the bottle. I appreciate provocative and new flavor combinations, but this is one that would be best served in 4oz portions.

Note: Since this was in a swing-top I took the leftover beer home and tried it again the next day. I discovered that I actually liked it quite a bit more. I'll still probably end up baking with a portion of this beer, but I'd argue that this is best appreciated on a clean palate.

Photo of beernads
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of drewone
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of Mora2000
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of bu11zeye.

Hand bottled in September 2008. Pours dark brown/black with basically no head. Aroma is some smokey peat as well as caramel. The flavor is slightly sweet with some caramel malt, roasted malt and some smoke and chocolate. Medium mouthfeel. Very creamy mouthfeel.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black-brown, looking extremely heavy in the glass, with a filmy but creamy head of chocolate brown foam. Lacing is minimal, but there's some nice static carbonation as it's swirled. Looks very good indeed.

Big roasted notes on the nose, with nice booze characteristics coming through as well. Chocolate and toastiness, with leavened smoky notes of churrasco barbecue. Some wonderful deep coconut and oak notes are noticeable as well. A really, truly phenomenally delicious nose. Quite complex and very, very pleasant.

Taste is a little lighter, although that's not hard. Big roasted characters on the fore, before some mature oak characters and light tannic bitterness come forward. Slight astringency mid palate, although this merely descends to a long ashy afterpalate. Mouthfeel is clear and silky, adding texture but not too much body to the palate. Minimal sweetness, and the tannic notes are probably the most prominent. Very big palate. Quite enjoyable.

A very good brew all up - lots of character and extremely full-flavoured. While it lacks something a little in complexity, it surely makes it up with big ballsy roasted stoutness. Stays surprisingly smooth and drinkable throughout. I'm a fan.

Photo of ejimhof
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of akorsak
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Foofaa for sharing this bottle, which was dated September 3, 2008.

A: The ale is pitch black, like a big imperial stout. No head to speak of. Very mysterious looking.

S: The nose is sweet initially, with dark fruits (currants, blackberries and grapes), followed by roasted malts that are nearly charred. The booziness is never really an issue.

T: The dark fruits and roasted malts continue into the taste, all dark and strong. The ale has a vinous presence, at least up front. The aforementioned fruits continue to add sweetness although there is a tart twist running through the ale. The Orkney barrels don't add the a traditional Scotch peatiness, instead they focus the fruits. My only complaint is that the ale drops off after the first wave of the barrel. The dark, roasted fruits come and, as quickly as they come, go with very little to fill the void.

M: The mouthfeel is rich early on, often vacant at the end. The dark fruits, roasted malts and barrel all work while they stick around.

D: At 10%, this is a beer to share. A nice treat that I don't think I'd normally seek out.

Photo of John_M
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Against my better judgement, I went ahead and bought a bottle of this stuff. It certainly does come in an impressive looking package, in this case a 750 ml. bottle with a swing top. There is some handwritten information surrounding the seal, which informs you that this beer was aged in single malt whiskey barrels and is a unique creation from the head brewer at Orkeny. Well then, I'm sure that must explain the $23.99 price tag for this beer. In any event....

The beer pours a very dark color for a scottish ale, appearing almost stout-like. The beer looks more akin to motor oil then beer, and initially there is very little head (often the case with extended oak aging I've found), but pretty good lacing. Interestingly, when I poured a second glass into my brandy snifter, there was considerably more impressive head retention. As for aroma, I can smell this beer from a foot away. There is a ton of vanilla and whiskey aromas in this one, and the beer comes across as rich, sweet and big (I'm surpised that it's ONLY 10%). The beer tastes just the way it smells and is quite smooth with vanilla, chocolate and a touch of coffee. Mouthfeel is pretty good, but the beer does come across as a bit heavy and is just a bit cloying on the palate. The alcohol is pretty warming as well, and has something of a cough medicine flavor about it. Drinkability is not this beers best feature.

An interesting beer and one assumes the lofty price tag is due to the extended aging in scotch whiskey barrels. However, at the price they're charging for it, the beer almost might as well be singe malt. Frankly, I found the beer to be a bit too much of a good thing, though perhaps age will mellow this beer somewhat. However, I just did not find the beer to be so exceptional that I'm likely to plunk down another $25 (including tax) for it any time soon.

Photo of KAF
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
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 drummermattie02
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of Lare453
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

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Dark Island Reserve from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 113 ratings.