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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

547 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 547
Reviews: 273
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.93%
Wants: 31
Gots: 83 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 02-15-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 547 | Reviews: 273
Reviews by roblowther:
Photo of roblowther
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Bottled April 2013. I didn't have the patience. Well, I've never had it so I'm not investing aging space on it....taste....untasted? Whatever the flavor version of sight unseen is. Looks like used motor oil. Very little carbonation, pitch black, syrupy and with the barest hint of a fleeting dark caramel froth. It smells of old places. Fruitcake, wood, hay, it just makes me picture an ancient house in the English countryside somewhere. The taste is fantastic. It is very subtle given the way the beer looks and pours. It is light and dark, if that makes sense. Dark chocolate, carob, wood, it manages to balance all of these really, really well. It masks the alcohol well and just is really surprisingly easily drinkable for a black, viscous brew. Mouthfeel could use carbonation. Probably not stylistically but it would break things up and add a little levity to this serious beer. Overall, really, really nice. Not as challenging as some old ales can be, with a lot going on and it manages to remain very approachable. Its like that physics professor you had in college who was so smart it drained your calculator battery when he entered the room but he managed to be so entertaining that you never forgot him. You know the one.

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This is almost as dark as their Engine Oil with a tan but slightly less lively head.

Smell – There’s some dark roasted malts to this nose and little sugar even after an hour opened up. The aroma though is exceptional and now I’m also getting a hint of espresso.

Taste – The espresso comes out a little more at the taste and the sugars, closer to raw then anything else, are much stronger on the tongue. The roastiness is passionate but quiet.

Mouthfeel – This Old Ale is close to full-bodied and incredibly smooth in the mouth, probably one of the smoothest OAs that I’ve ever had.

Drinkability – It’s efforts like this that make me fall in love all over again with this uncommon style here in the US. I would love to throw 10 of these in a cellar and open one a year for the next ten years.

Photo of MadScientist
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle No. 69110
& date: July 2011

A: The beer is inky black, not letting any light. The head is a persistent thin cap of medium tan creamy bubbles.

S: The aroma is dominated by a moderately-strong aroma of scotch whiskey and moderate oak that is somewhat cinnamon and vanilla. The scotch bring peat and some alcohol characters. There is light aroma of the complex malt you find in an old ale but it's in the background to the scotch and oak.

T: A medium sweetness with a great scotch whiskey flavor. There is a good complexity to the malt with moderately-light chocolate and and dry roast aftertaste. The hops bitterness is moderately-light with no hops flavor. The balance is somewhat sweet which helps to balance out the whisky. The finish is towards the sweet and the aftertaste is of scotch peatiness and a roasted grain dryness.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Moderate creamy and a light alcohol warmth.

O: The beer serves as a nice palate to carry the scotch flavors. The underling beer is a bit had to see under that but with the chocolate and the roast I'm apt to call it a stout and not an old ale. An enjoyable sipping beer.

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the proper use of scoth in beer. This interpretation is neither like sucking on a tree nor sipping a glass of single malt. The scoth wonderfully compliments the dark ale. The pour is a nice deep black with moderate single fingered white head. The body is smooth and in fine balance with a wonderful nose and lack of pungent aftertaste so typical of scotch barrel aged brews i have had in the past. Koudos to Harviestoun for doing this right, I only wish that I cold afford to drink more of these.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into my glass a deep black with dark brown accents and a small dark tan head that quickly fades. Not as viscous as I was expecting. Aromas start out with dark roasted malt mixing with some licorice, bitter chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits move in and meet up with a smokey peat aroma. Hints of wood, tobacco and molasses on the back end. Maybe even leather? Quite deep and complex overall.

First sip brings roasted malt quickly moving into chocolate and dark fruit flavors. Licorice, raisin and molasses roll across. The peaty scotch smokiness comes through rather strong with a slightly salty accent. It flows down with notes of wood and tobacco. Not as smoky as the 12 was, quite complex and a good sipper overall.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly more viscous than the pour lead onto. Still, this is not overly heavy and about on par for the viscosity of your standard stout. Well placed, fine carbonation, this one goes down rather easily. Makes a good after dinner treat. Overall, I've enjoyed this one and I'm glad I made the purchase.

Photo of merlin48
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle, #04722, bottled Sept 2007. Pours into a snifter deep dark brown and viscous. Small khaki head leaves some nice sheets of lace.

Complex aroma has charred oak wood, vanilla, dark chocolate, some almond nuttiness, and prominent notes of Scotch whisky. Nice!

Mouthfeel is thick and full bodied. Some whisky essence with the low carbonation.

Taste opens with dark roasty chocolate maltiness, quickly joined by the nuttiness from the aroma. Vanilla, charcoal, and oak tones add depth. The Scotch whisky character is prominent.

Really well done. A wonderful sipper. I'm going to get a few of these to put away for some aging.

Photo of jondeelee
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ola Dubh 16 lets the imbiber know from the first whiff that something extraordinary is about to happen. There are, of course, several beers that boast having been aged in used whiskey/wine/scotch/rum/etc. casks, but few of those beers smell so intensely of the cask's former contents. Old Dubh's nose is a mixture of near-black ale, with dark caramel sugars, chocolate malt, peat, coffee, and tobacco aromas, mixed with the scent of aged whiskey and charcoal.

On the tongue, the ale is so immediately dark and foreboding that it's hard to imagine this was made out of grains, and not crafted directly from ash. Huge tobacco and coffee flavors dominate the taste, as well as peat and black malt, and a continuation of the whiskey charcoal from the nose. A good sampling of heavy sugars, port wine, and dark fruit esters (banana, fig, raisin) complement the bitter malts, barely balancing the brew. The aftertaste is a joy of tobacco and coffee, and lingers much like good whiskey. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is light.

Overall, while I can't say this beer is going to appeal to everyone--in fact, I doubt few will be able to enjoy its extraordinarily intense flavors--it is an amazing accomplishment. I doubt it's possible to cram more flavor into a bottle.

Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank this as a nightcap last night and I really enjoyed it.Poured into a nonic a deep nearly opaque black with tight craterous mocha colored head,a little ruby showed thru when held up to the light.Deep complex aromas, some vanilla from the barrel aging really showed thru as well as some dark fruit and caramel and a touch of smoked peat wich was more pronounced in the flavors.I couldnt find a single flaw flavor wise just awesome and complex to the hilt,starting out sweetish with caramel and vanilla tones melding into a woody-smokey finish that lingered nicely.The only flaw and its not major is the body was not as full as I would have liked but it was by no means thin.A great after dinner brew,one to savor for sure.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #38219
Bottled July 2009
In a pint glass the beer was a viscous black with a tiny tan head.
It had a raisin bread aroma, as well as some whiskey.
Tasted like raisin bread soaked in whiskey. A little peaty.
I thought the alcohol was a little on the intrusive side, but still enjoyed this.

Photo of goatxpower
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pitch black with thin beige head.

S- scotch, with some vineous overtones.

t- Big malt, peat, honey, chocolate, roasted coffee. Nice smokeyness but not too blatant. Slightly fruity.

M- thick and sticky. Lasting peat smoke.

D- I liked it a lot, but don't see myself buying it again anytime soom.

Photo of magictrokini
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shockingly, under the "is some is good, more is better" theory, not as good as its younger cousin, the 12 year old version. Same black pour with a ring of tan bubbles. Harsher aroma with more peat and alcohol. Taste was similar, with a good blend of malt, chocolate, and oak. There was more whiskey taste which gave it a salty bite. I enjoyed the scotch flavors with this beer, but liked it more in the subtle 12 year old version. An excellent beer, nontheless

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)
bottle 02336/Sept. 2007
A- This beer has a jet-black opaque body with a deep mocha-tan head. There are some micro-bubbles that glide up the side of the glass and add to the head.

S- The clean smell has notes of black roasted malt and dark raisins with a graham note that is almost sweet and a dried herb note to the finish.

T- The smooth dark black malt has a dark chocolate roasted flavor to it with a dark dry toffee note and a hint of cream. There is a black strap molasses note and a rum flavor to follow. As the beer warms the rum flavor takes on a smoke quality and a bit of grain roasted bitterness and peat moss linger after the finish.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slight watery feel in the texture and a soft but present alcohol heat at the finish.

D- This beer takes a while to really open up and although there is a great depth of flavor it is much softer than the 12 and 30 year old versions. Still a delicious beer.

Photo of pwoods
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz. bottle, purchased at Jungle Jim's, poured into a snifter. 07761 Sept. '07

A: Pours very deep brown, nearly(looks like) black. Very thick, viscous. A Short but impressive deep mocha head forms and dies rather fast. Some lacing here and there.

S: Lightly smoky with some smoked salami and smoked meats(If asked years ago if I'd ever like smoke, smoked salami, smoked meats etc in my beer, I would have thought you were crazy. Oh how I've grown :P). A hint of oak and wood but lacking a sweetness that I kind of expected. Definitely getting whiskey notes but not pungent.. more of a compliment to everything.

T/M: Actually... it's pretty subtle. I expected a much more bold flavor. There's that smoked meat flavor, and it's nice, but just kind of... weak? Light woody notes along with nicely aged whiskey. Everything is just very controlled. Not unpleasant... just... no... umph. Body is full but not overly heavy. Carbonation is good and rebuilds a head every time I swirl.

D: This really is a tasty brew but it's just too weak. The flavors are right but I want them stronger... much stronger in fact. Idk.. maybe I've been dumbed down by too many big beers. It is very easy drinking, though, and I find myself forced to slow down at times to enjoy the subtleties.

Photo of caddybuyer
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a cool cellar temperature into a tulip glass. September 2007 batch.

A-Inky stout appearance with a creamy tan head.

S-Smoky sweet cocoa, scotch, wood. A bit funky as well. Not quite sure what to expect here.

T-Bittersweet chocolate battles with the charred scotch character and gives way to a pervasive and earthy vanilla undertone followed by a mild alcohol buzz on the tongue. Has much of the character of a RIS, as well as an old ale. A hell of an unusual brew unlike anything I have tried lately, but I like it.

M-Well balanced medium mouthfeel, slighly oily with low carbonation, but probably perfect for this.

D-This is a pretty intense singular beer. One and done for the night, but definately would try again, and looking forward to trying the others in the series.

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 12 ounce bottle into a teku.

A- Finger and a half of dark khaki-colored head, frothy and thick. Persists very well and leaves abundant lace. Body is pitch black and opaque.

S- Oak, some smoke, deep roasted dark malts, peat, dark chocolate and creamy vanilla. I get a smoky barrel smell most prominently.

T- Call me crazy but I'm getting some saltwater and ocean flavors here. Peat, smoke and some oaken flavors too. My brain keeps telling me I'm getting a salted caramel flavor and I have to agree with my brain there. As the beer warms, I get more chocolate, chocolate and scotch actually.

M- The body is surprisingly lighter than I expected. It borders on thin, but there's enough creaminess and malt that I'm not disappointed. There's a smoky, peaty character, as well as many other scotch characteristics, but I don't get any alcohol heat. It drinks smoothly and I'd have to be careful not to throw back too many of these. Oh wait, it costs about $10 a bottle so I couldn't afford to anyways. Hehe.

I really enjoy the salty, briny, oceanlike characteristics of this beer. It's a good one. I'd certainly have again, although for the price, I feel I could get bombers of bourbon-barrel aged beers at a better value. Just a thought.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ok this is almost totally different than the #12.

Colors are the same....deep mahogany with a tan head of a 1/2 inch that melts quickly to some really sticky lace and a ring.

Aromas are very subdued dark malts, brown sugar, and a touch of bourbon.

Flavor is an incredibly blended mix of smokey oak, soft, mellow whiskey (I'm surprised...I can actually taste the additional years of aging in the form of mellowness coming across in the beer).

This one is all about smoke, oak, and mellow aged whiskey.
Beer?
Naw...I could almost have this one on the rocks, but I think I'll take it neat.

Photo of biboergosum
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml, black foil-capped bottle, as ever was. Further down the Scottish rabbit hole I go - happy 252th, dear auld Rabbie!

This beer pours a seemingly familiar (!) deep, practically opaque dark brown used oil hue, with a ton of foamy, rocky head, which settles in the glass at the three finger mark, slowly receding to eventually reveal a pleasant curtain of ragged lace around the glass.

It smells of densely toasted caramel malt, light, slightly acrid peaty smoke, bittersweet chocolate, earthy, dry coffee, muddled musty black fruit, and a bit of bristling metallic alcohol. The taste is singed caramel malt, hard toffee, more less-than-sweet chocolate, woody, grainy oak, some vegetal, boozy vanilla, fig and date-like dark fruit, reduced brown sugar, and a suggestion of a softly peaty dram of Scotch whisky chaser.

The carbonation is quite reserved, just a meek frothiness to be found at most, the body a sturdy medium-heavy weight, while smooth and creamy as if on cue. It finishes a tad drier than its brethren have thus far, the latent earthy hops actually discernible over the potent malt, wood, peat, and alk-ee-hall.

It seems that the Ola Dubhs steeped in relatively younger Highland Park barrels exhibit significantly fewer pungent ocean-side characteristics, which, in the end, renders this a nicely balanced barrel-aged old ale. That's not to say that the North Sea doesn't well inform this one, another splendid re-jiggering of Old Engine Oil - it certainly does.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

By far the blackest, most stout-like old ale I've ever seen...the thin head is a nice toasted brown but it disappearances, thinning to a brown ring in a flash.

The aroma does not, thankfully, contain a cloying booziness as so many oak-aged ales will. Probably has something to do with the fact they didn't start off with that huge of a beer to begin with (only 8%...relatively low on the scale of beers that usually get the barrel treatment). The malty aromas get a chance to breathe, and they're wonderful, ranging from chocolate and plum to molasses and vanilla.

The woody, smoky result of barrel-aging comes into the flavor, but like the aroma, it doesn't totally take over. Not being a huge fan of Scotch whisky (in fact, I very much dislike it), this hugely helped in the enjoyment factor. The detected aromas all come through in the flavor, with a noticeable coffee and steamed milk addition not picked up in the aroma. Alcohol, coffee, smoke/wood and Scotch all appear to a more limited degree, the final result being a wonderfully complex sipper that doesn't lose the Old Ale amidst the associated barrel-aging characteristics.

Texture is warming, smooth, buttery, lighter than expected and almost devoid of carbonation (but it's no Thomas Hardy in this dept., there's still a mild sizzle here). Chocolate hangs around a good bit in the finish, as does some wood and alcohol.

Not one flavor spikes out over another--hard to find in a beer like this...and it's still plenty beer-like, which is appreciated. I'm impressed, and even surprised, as I'm not the biggest enthusiast of barrel-aged beer. This is one that's done right, though, and it won't lose you if you're not a whiskey fan.

Photo of Mar02x
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

We blind tasted this beer in the Mug ( a pub in Middelburg, The Netherlands).

A - A deep red beer with almost no head, only a thin beige foam.

S - A good oak smell mixed with chocolate, vanilla, caramel, malts, a little coffee and some raisins.

T - A nice mixture of toffee & caramel with some oak & malts.

M - A light bitterness in the end when it goes down with a moderate carbonation.

O - Would buy it again if there is nothing else, LOL! A good beer, a slightly thicker body would have helped though.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

for $10 this bitch better be good!

Pours a thick black with some ruby highlights and a nice thick brown head. Nose is mostly whisky and malt slap. Taste follow with thick thick malty flavor and intense scotch whisky flavor. A nice peat-like flavor and some subtle smoke. A little bit of pruney fruit flavor just through the middle. The scotch provides a slight funk through the middle that I am not a gigantic fan of. Mouthfeel is very good, nice and viscous without making you chew on it. Drinkability is ok, but as low an abv, it could go down a bit smoother, although, it is after all a whisky cask brew! Overall this is a very interesting brew. Outside of beer, I prefer scotch to bourbon, but for barrel aging, I am gonna have to say that bourbon is king, at least in my opinion. A great and unique beer from harviestoun, just wish it was a little bit cheaper. Interested to see how this guy cellars, along with the 30 yr. good brew, but defenitely a sipper!

Photo of cokes
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 09037/Sept 2007.

Inky black with burnt magenta edging topped with a squat tan head of moderate retention.
Nose of anise, peat smoke, burnt toffee, sherry, plums, fudge, and coffee grounds. There's a definite whisky impression, even if the barrel-aging isn't very pronounced. It's more vinous and sherried than the 12yo.
The mouth finds a persistent dark chocolate and liquorice impression meshed with smoked peat and ashy coffee. Black cherries and prunes materialize midway and ride sweetly on for the duration. Good amounts of sherry vinousness, but curiously little direct influence from the wood, only a few specks of sour-leaning tannins. Fudge reappears late, with caramel and vanilla nuances, and just a trace of sea air.
Medium-fat in the mouth with low carbonation and a penchant to cling a bit. It actually presents as slightly bigger than it is, as it thins through the mouth.

More rounded, softer in the finish, and sweeter than the 12, more or less as expected, and probably just a tad better, mostly in the nose.

It's pricey but good, even though, again,(as I mentioned in my review of the 12) I'd like to see more direct Highland Park signatures

Regardless, a dram of HP (of any age statement--I had the 12yo) along side this is essential, totally congruent, and thoroughly heightens the enjoyment.

Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Second in the series. Pours dark with a bit of initial head. Compared to the 12 year: More rich whiskey aroma. More ageing. Less chocolate. More moutheel from what's going on, but that's astringency too. A bit of richness, but also more whiskey, more drying. May have liked the 12 better at the same abv.

Photo of Roguer
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a surprisingly strong, solid, 1 finger tan head. Brew lives up to the name, being oily and black. Head retention is excellent for the style, and lacing is nice.

Aroma is scotch followed by chocolate malts, cream, and wheat. Everything is balanced and gentle.

Whoa, the flavor is a huge surprise! Roasted barley and burnt black coffee immediately hit you with a dry bite. The scotch adds an impressively smooth smoky sweetness underneath and on the back-end.

Mouthfeel is thinner than I expected, but balance is superb. Little sting, medium foaming. The feel is what really separates this from a BA stout. A little alcohol heat on the back-end.

This is a surprisingly delicate brew, and it was well worth the high price tag for a try. I don't think I'm going to pick it up often at this price, but I recommend you give it a try.

Bottled February 2012, so it's a 13 month old batch.

Photo of dirtylou
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single - september 2007 bottling, via secret santa bif, split while watching reno 911 reruns

appearance: poured into a snifter, mahogany-cola body. the name means "black oil" and that seems pretty accurate. there is a light tan ring but not much head at all

smell: nice aroma - a nice, well-rounded scotch nose...vanilla, woody, tons of smoked peat, earthy

taste: not nearly as satisfying as the nose - scotch and vanilla chips dominate the nose but dont hit the taste buds until the follow-through...the flavors seem to be dominate by earthy tones, smoked peat, and oak. also find touches of toffee, rich chocolate, light bitter espresso bean

mouthfeel: despite the level of focus on scotch-barrel aging, the alcohol remains fairly well controlled...rather thin body

drinkability: ok

Photo of tempest
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$8 for a bottle at Abe's Cold Beer. Poured a dark brown, near pitch-black with a short tan head. The aroma and flavor are dominated by heavy peat smoke with a drop of honey sweetness for balance. While the scotch element here is wonderful, I'm struggling to taste any beer here. I can tell the roasty chocolate profile is vaguely there, but it's mostly just a delivery device for the delicious scotch. I'm not complaining, but I'd expect a little more from such a relatively expensive beer.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 547 ratings.