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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

487 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 487
Reviews: 269
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.41%
Wants: 28
Gots: 65 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Bitterbill on 02-15-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 487 | Reviews: 269 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RemyLeBeau
1.5/5  rDev -63.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I bought this beer today as a part of a custom six pack at Kahns. I was very excited because I like dark, rich, big beers and from the description I had read I thought this one would be right up my alley. Wrong.

I poured it into my favorite Sam Adams glass and thought the color looked nice. Ola Dubh translates into "old oil" i think, so I got what I expected from the look of it. The smell was very woody and smoky.

On first sip I was disappointed. Slight whiskey flavors and a touch of peat and a lot of molasses. But the most overwhelming flavor was that of sausage. Thats right. This beer tastes overwhelmingly like salty smoked sausage. Which is a flavor that I like, in meats, but not so much in a liquid form.

I had to force this beer down

RemyLeBeau, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of xk6m6m5x
2/5  rDev -51.6%

xk6m6m5x, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of alcstradamus
2.25/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed from notes

Pours black with a small head that disappears rather quickly. Smell is straight up armpit funkiness and chocolate. Not appealing.

The taste is more of the same. Only the armpit is now charred. Wow, this is just a mess. Great mouthfeel so the overall score will be higher than it should be. I haven't really cared for any of the 3 Ola Dubh beers I've tried, so I won't bother seeking out the 40 year.

EDIT: After posting my review I read another person's who claimed they tasted "sausage"...that flavor was definitely present but I didn't identify it on my own. Perhaps I should have paired this with a cheese platter and some Ritz crackers?

alcstradamus, Dec 10, 2009
Photo of rdooley
2.5/5  rDev -39.5%

rdooley, Aug 04, 2013
Photo of Overlord
2.7/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I really enjoyed the 12 and 30 year old editions a year or two ago, so I figured I'd give this one a try. Wish I hadn't.

Folks, watch out. I don't know if there are new, bad batches, or if the old ones aren't aging well, but this was ... not good.

Pours very black, with a dark brown crust. Almost no bubbling, but it's not an overly thick beer. Perhaps the first warning sign.

Smells of whiskey and some faint notes of roasted malt and coffee. Really not a strong smell, and I remember the other ones having a vivid aroma. Warning sign number two.

Taste was borderline unpleasant. Some soy sauce notes, a whisky/sherry burn, and a pungent aftertaste that wiped out a lot of the nuance. I don't know what happened. Mouthfeel was pretty nice and viscous, too bad the beer isn't that great.

Overlord, May 12, 2009
Photo of jrep21pr
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%

jrep21pr, Nov 19, 2013
Photo of beerandcycling88
2.78/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Bottling date August 2010.

A Pours out black topped off with a mocha head.

S A very strong smokey peat with some faint chocolate. By far the best part of the beer.

T Some faint chocolate and a bit of roast are present however the strong peat character of the scotch dominates.

M A very thin watery mouthfeel.

Overall this is an ok beer that isn't worth the price. The base beer is completely dominated by the scotch barrel and it is incredibly thin almost like water. Overall this one is not worth trying at the price point its at.

beerandcycling88, Sep 21, 2012
Photo of AgentMunky
2.9/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a Glencairn whisky glass. Bottle number 08590. Bottled(?) September 2007.

A: Dark, opaque, and brooding, with little to no head. Good lacing.

S: Blackberries, blueberries, loads of fruit. Cobbler. This reminds of 1999 JW Lee's Harvest Ale. Deliciously sweet.

T/M: Mehh. Stale, flat, but full of boozy fruit. I don't get much whisky, certainly no Highland Park. As it warms, the quality lessens. I suppose the end taste has a touch of molasses and merest whiff of smoke. Disappointing.

O: Not a very good beer. Certainly not worth the money. I might drink it again, but I would certainly never seek it out or recommend it.

AgentMunky, Apr 28, 2012
Photo of oso
3/5  rDev -27.4%

oso, Mar 13, 2014
Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -27.4%

cfalovo97, Nov 11, 2012
Photo of TimH
3/5  rDev -27.4%

TimH, May 19, 2012
Photo of seedsofchaos
3.03/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On a recent trip to our local bottle shop, a buddy and I thought we should get a few "special brews" for a NYE toast at midnight. Among three bottles, we were recommended Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16. At $17 a bottle we figured that an Old Ale aged in 16 year scotch barrels would be pretty phenomenal. At $17 a bottle, we expected much more.

Pours much darker than an Old Ale. Think more Imperial Stout. Black with little carbonation. With this type of color I really expected more viscosity. Relatively thin in body...

Not much of a bouquet to speak of... There's a little oak, some bourbon and roasted malt. Not much else. The aroma is dominated by more of a fresh (green) wood smell if you can even use the word "dominated" with such a weak smelling beer.

Ola Dubh under-impresses on the tongue as well. Thin. Fresh oak. Alcohol is hidden fairly well but there is a hint. A bit of smoke and a bit of salt.

Eventually, I'm glad we had some BCBS for a midnight toasting as well because Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 was more of a ticker beer than a memorable toast to a new year.

seedsofchaos, Jan 03, 2012
Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.1/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. I'm not entirely sure how to judge this beer since it is classified as an old ale but I believe the base beer is an English Porter. July 2009 bottling

A: Pours very dark brown with just a hint of light going through the edges of the beer. About a half a finger of very large bubble light brown foam appears above the beer. It recedes rather quickly. Looks nice.

S: Licorice, milk chocolate, and peaty scotch.

T: Fortunately, the scotch and milk chocolate take over (I don't like licorice). It's almost like I poured a shot of scotch in a glass of chocolate milk. I get some oxidation flavors, which fortunately mix fairly well with the milk chocolate I taste.

M: This is quite thin to a point of being distracting. I think a thicker body would complement the flavors much more.

O: If this was a bit thicker I think it would be much more enjoyable. It could also use more depth, especially as an old ale.

coreyfmcdonald, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of Rchap1
3.18/5  rDev -23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found this at Sam's on Clybourn in Chicago...not a cheap bottle, $12 apiece.
A: Dark as dark could be. There wasn't a speck of light coming through this thing. Head was very minimal, just a thin dark haze at the top of the glass. Left very fine lacing along the way.
S: Pretty smoky, lots of peat and alcohol scent to it, unsurprisingly. Think I was picking up a hint of cheddar cheese in there as well, but it could've been the smoke overpowering my nose.
T: There's that cheddar cheese, guess I was right! strong alcohol up front, heavy malt taste, not overly hoppy but it'd be hard to tell with how agressive the whisky flavor is in here. The finish didn't impress me, seemed overly bitter and way to strong on the smoke.
M: Very full, but nothing special.
D: This is a sipper for sure. It had a good up-front taste, and you can definitely find the whisky notes you want in there, but I had to take this one way slow.
All in all, a decent if not somewhat gimmicky beer.

Rchap1, Mar 16, 2009
Photo of carlitos92
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

carlitos92, Sep 22, 2013
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

ygtbsm94, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of Hellpop65
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Hellpop65, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of ParlayHard8
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

ParlayHard8, Jan 23, 2014
Photo of impending
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

impending, Oct 30, 2013
Photo of Adammleonard
3.32/5  rDev -19.6%

Adammleonard, Sep 14, 2014
Photo of Goldorak
3.33/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to 3Vandoo for poping the awesome bottle at our last tasting! Bottle 08083/Sept2007

Appearance: Surprise! It's dark, which I didn't expect. It's pretty much pitch black in fact.

Smell: Iodine was the first thing that came through in the nose, something I pick up when I'm sampling a dram of Scotch. Funny, from memory, Highland Park didn't smell like that. Enjoyable smoky and vanilla effluves as well.

Taste: Salty and acidic, it tasted like Tamari sauce, with a side of ashes. Light body, you can tell that the barrel aging stripped the Beer of some of it's 'soul', something I find a bit deplorable. I enjoyed, but this seems to be a case of a Beer not exceeding the sum of it's parts.

Goldorak, Sep 13, 2008
Photo of Mebuzzard
3.35/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I went with the 16 year instead of the 12 or 30, just to get a sense of "middle of the road" so to speak.
Black pour, not really thick as the edges were a bit brown and clear. Very little head, but dense, tan. Some lacing.
Smelled of jerky, wet beer jerky and sweet caramel. A hint of peat and smoke. Alcohol not detected.
Flavorful, like liquid jerky. Malt gives it a nice sweet-n-smokey effect. I think of beer when drinking this. It just misses the salt of jerky. It's good, would like to see more peat; perhaps the 30 is more like this.

Mebuzzard, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of Dwreck
3.36/5  rDev -18.6%

Dwreck, Aug 13, 2014
Photo of BeefyMee
3.43/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage

I tried this vertically with the 12 and unfortunately this one was not the winner. They're very similar except the 16 seems a lot more watery and less flavorful. The roasted, smoky characteristics are a little muted here. Still pretty good overall, but I might actually go for an Old Engine Oil over this and a 12 over both.

BeefyMee, Aug 23, 2010
Photo of JDV
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color almost, with light shades of dark brown. Rich, dark malty, caramel and light peaty smokiness. Taste is dry almost roasty, peaty, a touch tart, and chalky. Medium to thin bodied. Perhaps not worth the price, but certainly not a bad beer by any means. Just not my style.

JDV, Jun 30, 2008
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 487 ratings.