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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
United Kingdom (Scotland) | website

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bitterbill on 02-15-2008

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Reviews: 285 | Ratings: 592
Photo of Zythophile
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle Date: May 2014
Palate Contaminants: none

If it looks good, buy it. Unless you already have too much. (Note from later: I try to be optimistic.)

Appearance is very dark, and there's not much lacing in the glass, either.

Smell is pleasant for such a dark brew. If there's one thing that could roll it all up into one, I'd say semi-sweet, fresh rye bread.

I had high hopes with the smell, but the taste isn't nearly as nice. I'm under the impression that this is one that should age okay, so I can't just write it off; it's one for the record. It's palatable, but I won't be looking for more. Basically, start with your basic Guinness, make it a little thinner, add a little bitterness, and then a heaping dose of charred barrel. This might make a great marinade.

At least, this is my bottle. Your mileage may vary.

Feel is thin for a dark beer.

Here's hoping my bottle of 18 is better.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

May 2014 bottle into a Teku at cellar temp.

Look: dark brown, but light peeks through around the edges. Minimal light tan head.

Smell: smokey and sweet. Hint of alcohol heat.

Taste: smokey and sweet. Strikes me as richer and more complex than the 12-year I had a while back. Light-roasted coffee, strawberry, cream, vanilla, char, and kiwi/grass are all notes I get.

Feel: medium/thick, with low (but stylistically appropriate) carbonation. Leaves a strange sort of dryness.

Overall: I'd lowered my expectations for this based on the 12-year, which was fine but nothing special. However, I enjoyed this considerably more. Will contemplate picking up another bottle, even at the steep price.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours dark brown, almost black, with ruby red around the edges, no head retention, no lacing, low carbonation, looks pretty good.

A: Vanilla, toffee, picking up some dark fruits like raisins, no alcohol on the nose, not getting any of the barrel notes, reminds of a barley wine.

T: Sweet toffee, caramel, vanilla, oak and barrel come through in the aftertaste, lingering oak, wood notes, hints of raisins and figs, alcohol is well hidden. Picked up some dark red wine notes as the beer warmed.

M: Medium bodied beer with low carbonation.

O: This is really solid but I think it's overpriced at $12 for a single bottle, doesn't pop with as much flavor as I was hoping, pretty subtle flavors and aroma. It's very smooth, drinkable, and balanced.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle number and date: 08676 / Sept 2007

Appearance - Pours black with a cluster of bubbles that find their way to the edge of the glass and slowly pop away.

Smell - Slightly sour notes, along with traces of charred oak, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste - Dull, distant flavors that follow the nose. Mostly old, earthy oak. A hint of smoke, vanilla and chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with almost zero carbonation. Slick, smooth texture with a slightly dry finish.

Overall - I got this for a Christmas present. I hadn't noticed the bottling date until now. Nearly 9 years old, yeesh! I'd say it passed the optimal age quite a few years ago. What's left is remnants of what I can only imagine was a pretty darn tasty treat during it's peak. This is one I'll have to keep an eye out for and review again.

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Photo of spacecake9
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Was happy to find this on a local shelf.
A - Pours black with a small white-ish head.
S - The aroma is sweet and smoky.
T - The flavor is smoky, woody, perhaps some caramel.
M - Thick with little carbonation.
O - I allowed this to warm to room temperature before tasting. But I did not get the complex flavors I was hoping for. Not bad but does not justify the price.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle, served in a thistle glass. Bottling date of April 2013. Bottle number 07462.

Appearance: Very dark brown approaching black. Thin light tan ring of foam. An occasional strand of lacing that would very slowly slide back down the glass.

Smell: I had to let this warm all the way up to room temp to really bring out the aroma. Molasses, toasted malt, whiskey, charred oak.

Taste: Lots of flavors going on here. In no particular order: buttery toffee, caramelized malt, fine scotch whiskey, oak, and at the finish, a bit of smokiness blended with sweetness. The smoke gets more peaty and lingers a bit past the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Nice thickness, lightly carbonated. A bit sticky on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: A fine sipping beer, and one that you need to let warm up all the way before drinking - it's much better warm. Not as smoky / peaty as I was expecting from the description, but good none the less. One is enough though at the price. Not amazing enough for me to get again but definitely worth having once.

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Photo of tronester
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear very dark brown, with almost no head. Smells of molasses and some smoke. The taste begins with a bit of scotch whisky, then some chocolate, followed by peat, and finishing with a earthy bready flavor. Mouthfeel is good. Overall an excellent beer. I aged this one for years, and it was no worse for the wear.

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Photo of JackieKu
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Best before 2015-08.

A: opaque. No head.
S: Roasted. Salty. Coffee. A little woody.
T: Herbal: mainly thyme. Cocoa. Low bitterness. Nearly dry and dry finish.
M: Full bodied.
O: Interesting and flavorful oak aged stout.

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Photo of Saviour
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a snifter.
L - opaque black with almost absent head.
S - really rich aroma including wood, tar, chocolate and toffee notes.
T - almost the same as smell with a tobacco aftertaste.
F - full-bodied and low carbonized, great aftertaste.
O - what can I say? Another masterpiece of brewing, for sure.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.4/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one in Bodegraven. Drank this one, then the 18yr and 21.

From a 33cl bottle into a snifter
May 2014

APPEARANCE: A clear dark brown pour yields a 1 finger, medium looking, creamy and bubbly light tan head with good retention. Head fades to a full swirly wisp. Bistre brown body with no carbonation evident. A swirly wisp remains until the end leaving touches of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Some peated whisky, aromas of leather and some dark chocolate on the nose. Medium strength. Nice, but not overly impressive.

TASTE: More peated whisky, leather and smoky flavors up front. More earthy notes at the swallow with a medium strength but lingering finish of peat, earthy hops, leather, some dark chocolate, toffee and raisins. Flavorful with some well balanced peat and smoky notes.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body and medium levels of carbonation. A bit watery, unfortunately. Goes down fine and finishes somewhat sticky.

OVERALL: This is pretty nice, but for some reason, it's nowhere near the 2010 bottle of Dubh 12yr I had about a year ago. This one had some nice earthy and peated whisky characteristics going on, but it just wasn't nearly as black and decadent as that 2010 bottle. Still, a fine brew worth checking out.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a lovely black that you can not see through with a tan head that laces the glass as you drink. The smell was full of coffee and wood with a sweetness of dark chocolate as well. The taste was heavy in the front with caramel and chocolate coming through with bitter espresso and the wood from the scotch barrels coming through on the finish. Not overly thick but had a good body to it. One to keep an eye out for.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

As black as midnight on a moonless night, no head, great aroma.this is a really complex beer, chocolate,caramel, whiskey and dark fruit....gets better the further down the bottle you get.overall an absolutely superb beer, ive got a 30 to try next.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black oily pour with a really small tan string of foam, leaving a nice curtain as it recedes.
Mildly peated Scotch and roast on the nose, rich dark chocolate, oaky vanilla, burnt sugar, faint dark fruit.
Nice clear dry Scotch in the start, but not boozy at all. Rich roasted malts, with a touch of dark bread, light chocolate and some burnt sugar. Woody towards the finish, with a bit of smoke and peat, touch of vanilla, faint coffee bean. Dried up by a bit of Scotch, just mildly warm.
Aftertaste is bready, bittersweet, with nice oak barrel notes. Medium to light body actually, low carbonation, just a tiny bit sticky.
Not as robust as Engine Oil, not as complex as Ola Dubh 30, but it's a really huge show for whisky barrel aging. Easy to drink, clean and tasty.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Rich, smoky aroma has a strong overtone of fine whisky and a hint of caramel. Pours a deep, warm sable with a thick, fine-bubbled tan head that leaves some good lacing. Smoky mocha flavor has a firm whisky note and hints of caramel and molasses. Firm-bodied texture has a good amount of tingle, and leaves a smoky, syrupy finish. Most worthy.

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Photo of matt_duthie
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to try this for a long time, of any vintage barrel, decided on the 16-year at the same price as younger barrels...

A: Poured nearly opaque with the edges a dark translucent brown, but only barely. Two finger dark khaki head, very nice looking beer.

S: Exactly what I'd expect Old Engine Oil that's been sitting in a single-malt barrel to smell like: roasty, big whiff of scotch whiskey, hops come through a little bit, but a solid barreled porter. Excited to taste it.

T: Oh so good. The whiskey is subdued, but certainly there. Char/peat, coffee, chocolate, some indiscript dark fruit in there somewhere, slight bitterness without any distinctive hop flavor, but a balanced sweetness about the whole thing. 11.2 oz. may not be enough.

M: Full but not overly thick. Low-medium carbonation, begs to sit in your mouth a bit before swallowing. Wonderful.

O: Can't wait to try other iterations on this excellent base beer, aged in seemingly perfect barrels for it to take on additional flavor and complexity. Can't believe it's taken so long to suck it up and pay the premium for what is clearly a beer worth its price.

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Photo of brureview
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

Poured in a Stone Guardian glass which is used for barley wines. It works well for the beer, and
brings out the oak better than a snifter.

The color was opaque: coffee brown-black- no head.

Aroma: very strong oak, and some smoke.

Mouth feel : medium carbonation.

Taste: this is aged in Highland Park 16 single malt barrels. The 12 has more tobacco, smoke and plum.
However this beer is very smooth compared to the 12. The barrels must affect the taste- an aged whiskey is smoother.

The finish is also much different than the 12. Much more whiskey, and a pronounced alcoholic taste.
A great beer: looking forward to the 18, if I can find it.

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Photo of Dentist666
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%

Poured into english pint
Opaque jet black beer. Only a ring of tan froth dissipating to some bubbles on a surface. Smell of whiskey, tobacco, chocolate, wood. Taste is smooth, solid, chocolate, liquorice, tobacco, bnice whiskey finish. Outstanding brew.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Pours dark and beautiful with a creamy head of mocha colored foam. Nose is malty, chocolate. Creaminess, roast. Hint of vanilla, some earthy peat and a bit of scotch whiskey. Taste is lovely. Broad and bitter raost. Dry bittersweet chocolate. Suppl;ea earth and peat a smooth hint of vanilla. The malt is smooth and supple. Smooth coffee. Viscuous soft body. A mouthfeel like heaven on this beer. Woody, cherry sweet black earth. Velvety. A light boozy warmth. Mild scotch whiskey flavor. Crisp dry finish.

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Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

Let me describe this brew for you. It first looks very ominous. Very dark brown body almost on the verge of being black, yet it possesses an eerie glow around the body. Very interesting. The aroma speaks to me saying, roasted malts that bring forth warming caramel. Also some cocoa nibs with a touch of molasses sweetness. There is also a wood aspect very earthy and calming. Very nice on the nose. Now for the taste. Semi sweet malts that help to showcase the whiskey part of the brew. Molasses and roasted malts that are trying to compete with the whiskey. Very balanced. In the aftertaste is of toasted marshmallows and a nice pipe tobacco flavor that is dissolving into a faint vanilla. The finish is dry slightly bitter very elegant. The feel is Medium-light with soft carbonation.

Overall: Hands down this beer is delicious! Everything seems to meld together in a sophisticated manner. This beer is very light for being an 8% brew. Drinkable beyond belief and very balanced. This brew is recommended.

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Photo of woemad
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
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

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Photo of beergoot
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.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

(bottle no. 04712, FEB 2012 - purchased at Old Philly Ale House)

A: jet black liquid - revealed later to be only deep brown... 1/4" tan head, keeps some scattered islands of bubbles 'round the outer edges... no lace, no legs

S: fairly bold, unique bouquet (those first whiffs are always the best, no?).... dominant vanilla scent with some touches of old wood.... sweet cream, a chocolatier's shop....overtone of wildflowers (or lavender?)....background roast, molasses.... leather armchair

T: bitter chocolate and ash up front.... finishes with faint charcoal, dark chocolate, and a late hit of molasses.... bit of a newspapery oxidation which blends in nicely.... no real "whisky" notes.... late, lasting leathery note... perhaps some toasted raisin in there as well

M: starting slowly during the sip, a subtle alcohol warmth develops and spreads out as it goes down.... slight powdery effect... quite silky-smooth with a faint drying in the finish... minimal play from carbonation

O: very tasty and ridiculously moreish.... a notch or two better than the Ola Dubh 12

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Photo of BradC
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet oily black with very little to no head, slight lacing.

Smells earthy, oaky, burnt wood

All kinds of Flavors here, bitter chocolate, dark burned fruits, peat, oak, not much of an alcohol presence.

Very little carbonation, beer is full bodied but not syrupy, very easy drinking.

Overall, a very nice complex beer. This one was bottles July 2011, so it already has a couple years on it.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

$10.99 for 11.2 oz. Bottle #0835, bottled on 2/2012. Purchased on a business trip and drank in my hotel room. Poured into a highball glass.

A truly unique beer, but disappointing. 3.5

A – Pours black with a half-finger tan rocky head, opaque, not at all viscous, average lacing. 3.75

S – Dark fruit/raisin, sweet but not cloying, metallic (-), grape preserves some smokiness, port notes 3.75

T – Roasted malt, but not too bitter, no whiskey flavor, no noticeable alcohol. 3.5

MF – Medium bodied, semi-dry finish, thing by my expectations, slightly metallic 3.25

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.