Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
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Ratings: 468 | Reviews: 266 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by stevenseg:
3.6/5 rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5
I was recently contacted by a friend of mine who lives in Scotland to ask if I would like to put in an order for his annual shipment of Highland Park products. This year he's shipping Ola Dubh (Black Oil), a Harviestoun dark ale aged in Highland Park Scotch whisky barrels...$56 for two bottles of 16. I seriously tried to justify it, but decided to wait on it, and I'm glad I did as Raymond, my local beer store hookup, decided to stock a few bottles. So at $10 a bottle, I picked up just one 16 and chilled for a few days before cracking it open. Now, my expectations are high as I spent an appreciable amount of time convincing myself Ola Dubh 16 is going to be the best beer in the world.
I am a Bourbon beer fan...NOT a Bourbon fan, but throw a nice stout such as Goose Island's Night Stalker in a Bourbon barrel, pull out some Bourbon County, and you have one of the richest delights to a dark beer lover. I'm not sure how the Scotch is going to compare, but I am optimistic. The richness and body will be the determining factors for me. Here we go :)
Deep, dark appearance. There are few beers that beg me to partake like those with a black hue and a creamy dark tan head. A moderate pour left a nice 1 1/2 finger head that is still there...5 minutes after pouring.
A very whisky nose, Ola Dubh 16 has a very sweet chocolate note with hints of vanilla, and pretty much no hop character, as is expected. It's like dropping a bomb of Scotch into a glass of Hershey's chocolate syrup.
Ola Dubh 16 is smokier than I had anticipated. A very sweet malt was anticipated, but I got a dose of roast instead. Heavy coffe and smoke notes, but this is a Scotch ale no matter how you spin it. You have to expect a peaty, earthy note. Very little hint of Scotch on the palate. I can taste the tinniness of oak barrels...a character I would attribute to new fermenters or cask conditioning ala the new Heinneken/New Castle setup if I didn't know any better. Either way, Ola Dubh was different than what I expected, but I can see what the creators were trying to accomplish.
The beer is also a bit crispier than I expected. The smooth, creamy head suggested a low carbonation level, but the bobbles turned out to be large and plentiful. A little heavier body would be nice, put Ola Dubh has moreof a porter feel to it. After all, it is a dark ale, not an imperial stout.
Overall, I am glad I paid $10 for a bottle rather than $56 for two, so considering the alternative, I think it was a great investment. Plus, the experience will be chronicled here. I love whisky stouts, and the faint note experienced in the 2011 Harviestoun 16 is enough to confirm my taste isn't limited to Bourbon. If you're looking for a solid import with great character and price is no objective, lay down a few dollars for one.
On a side note...I really don't thing the difference between ale aged in the 10 and 40 year barrels really make that much of a difference. Stick to what is cheapest...the novelty is for Scotch lovers, not beer lovers.
Serving type: bottle
07-15-2011 01:22:01 | More by stevenseg
More User Reviews:
4.3/5 rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
11.2oz bottle that was bottled in July, 2009, according to the label, and aged in oak barrels that previously contained Highland Park scotch for 16 years. I bought this at Enoteca in Post Falls, Idaho, several years ago.
Poured into an Iron Goat sinfter, this was an impenetrable dark color, with about a finger’s worth of mocha-colored, bubbly foam that subsided somewhat quickly, though it left a foam ring that hung around for a while. It looked quite a bit better than I expected when I popped the cap and was greeted with the most anemic “phht” I’ve heard from a beer for a long time.
Big woodsy and “whiskey-ey” nose to this. I also get some dark fruit, but the booziness stands out.
A smooth booze-beer flavor to this. I was afraid that this would be all boozy heat, but I’m happy to report that it’s better balanced than that. The boozy, oaky flavor is what hits first, but it’s restrained enough to blend with figgy and brown sugary notes. There’s also some tobacco-like flavors in the background, leading me to wonder if this might stand up well to a good stogie (for me, cigar smoking is definitely a spring and summer sport, and after about a six month layoff, I’m feelin’ the need to get me a quality smoke)
Thick, velvety mouthfeel. A little low on carbonation, as I expected when I opened it and heard… well, almost nothing, but it actually works well here.
I didn’t know what to expect from this, and my heart sank with the thought of an expensive drainpour when I popped it’s top, but I’m rather pleased with this. My only wish is that I had saved it to be a dessert following a rich meal
Serving type: bottle
06-15-2014 21:54:26 | More by woemad
4.14/5 rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
A brown pour that fills the glass to a nearly opaque black appearance; thin yet creamy mocha-colored head. Chocolate, coffee grounds, grapes and figs comprise the aroma. Milk chocolate sweetness in the flavor, well-tempered with a whisky edge at the finish. Medium-heavy body; smooth and rich mouthfeel.
A fine dark ale that delivers depth and complexity with bold malt sweetness tempered with Scotch whisky undertones. Seems similar to a Russian imperial stout in many ways. Intriguing and rewarding and should satisfy any lover of big dark ales.
Serving type: bottle
05-26-2014 23:01:11 | More by beergoot
4.36/5 rDev +5.8%
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.
Serving type: bottle
05-16-2014 03:16:49 | More by ONovoMexicano
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 468 ratings.