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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

114 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.92%
Wants: 63
Gots: 26 | FT: 2
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: 114 | Reviews: 65 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mitlinks
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

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 drewone
3.75/5  rDev -9%

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 Liquoric3
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

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 Florya
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of udubdawg
4/5  rDev -2.9%

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 RyanGoodman
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of Dizzle32
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

Photo of gushov
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

Photo of mmitgang
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of Knapp85
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
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 BDTyre
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed from a shop on Princes Street in Edinburgh...apparently bottled almost a year ago, but still tastes great.

Darky ruby, almost black, with a very thin but fluffy khaki head. Oak, scotch, wine, chocolate, fruit and coffee. Taste is predominantly oak, scotch, wine and chocolate. No hops are noticeable. Definite alcohol burn, but at 10% what can you expect? Excellent after-dinner beer - one to share for sure. Low carbonation, and definitely a sipper.

Great contrast to the normal Dark Island. A big beer, and one put away for sure.

Dark Island Reserve from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.