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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.

282 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 282
Hads: 583
Avg: 4.12
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 37
Gots: 99 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
United Kingdom (Scotland) | website

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 (30) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 282 | Hads: 583
Photo of JMBSH
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Before I go on, let me admit that this review looks almost exactly like my review of the Special 12 Reserve. I will say more after this copy of the last one:
"Pours very dark. Looks black but is really a very dark amber/ruby color. I can't see or detect any carbonation. Almost no head from a fairly hard pour. Smells lightly of whisky.
A very good flavor. Notes of molasses and dark chocolate are detected. Coats the tongue and mouth very nicely. The whisky flavor is not overpowering, it just adds a nice addition to the beer. There is a hint of the "heat" that you might find in whisky but this beer is only 8% ABV. Very good beer. Recommended."
This beer says that it was bottled September 2007 also with a number of 7697. Other then that there was not much difference between the two beers. The only noticable thing was a bit more of the alcohol aftertaste. Still a good beer but not something specail to look for.

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Photo of grub
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle topped with black foil. bottle #13127, bottled sept 2007. sampled beside the other two ola dub beers july 19/08. my favourite of the three.

appearance is almost the same as the 12, but with a bit more carbonation and obvious head.

aroma is great. big whiskey and oak and vanilla combo. alcohol. dark and milk chocolate. caramel. multi-grain bread. bit of biscuit. touch of butterscotch.

taste is good. dark chocolate. bit of coffee. light roast. alcohol. vanilla and whiskey. multi-grain bread. light citrus.

mouthfeel is good. just over medium body. medium-low carbonation level.

drinkability is great. nice balance. good balance of the barrel and base beer too. good stuff.

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Photo of jdhilt
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger brown head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Totally black color. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Oak nose. Flavor is some burnt coffee but mostly sweet oak. Pricey at $8.99 for a 330ml bottle from Yankee Spirits South Attleboro, Ma.

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Photo of Viggo
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled all 3; the 12, 16, and 30 one after another after a recent brewday. grub contributed the 16. I'm just going to copy and paste these ones because most of it is pretty similar, but I'll give the differences.

Pours an opaque black with dark brown and red highlights, medium sized thick brown head forms, looks like tar, settles to a thin ring quickly, drops a ton of lace, this stuff is dark! Smell is nice, chocolate and toffee, whiskey, oak, dark fruits, some alcohol, figs, cherries, very roasty, buttery compared to the 12, a bit cleaner and a bit more fruit. Taste is charred wood, bread, toffee, chocolate, whiskey, sherry, some licorice and vanilla, again buttery compared to the 12, alcohol feels a bit hotter, brown sugar in this one, and quite a bit more vanilla and oak. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation, feels a bit bigger than the 12, but I think thats just because the flavour is richer. This was my favourite of the bunch, thanks Russ!

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Photo of cokes
4.12/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Hokies
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a nonic glass. Pours an opaque black color with a nice mocha colored head that dissipates quickly leaving a thin lace on the beer and the glass.

A wonderfully complex aroma of smoked peat, charcoal, dark fruit and some coffee notes.

Some of the complexities are lost in the taste as the nose has some smoke flavor to it and then a light taste of dark chocolate, coffee and malt take over. The taste finishes off with the dark fruits and some spice to it.

Their is not a lot of carbonation in this beer which is nice and it also has a decent creaminess to it.

I would have to say that this is quite an easy beer to drink.

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Photo of Goliath
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black and completely opaque with a one inch mocha colored head. Decent retention and some fine spotty lacing.

Aroma is rich but not overly complex. Very grainy up front, with some more complex notes on the finish. The oak is noticeable as well as alcohol and some fruity esters.

Taste is pretty nice. Not a dramatic change from the 12 yr, but noticeably smoother. Loads of grain, with a bit of oak, smoke, and some tastes I can't quite put my finger on right now.

Mouthfeel is full bodied. Pretty creamy, and very lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is moderate. Good flavors, nice body and texture, and alcohol is manageable.

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Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

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Photo of ATPete
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The brew poured a very deep brown color with reddish highlights, it doesn't appear as pitch black as the 12 or the 30 and sports a small brown head. The nose is very burnt. Burnt wood, charcoal, and sweet malts. The taste is similar i really like the wood character to the beer but the burntness of the malts is almost overpowering. Other tasting notes include chocolate, coffee, vanilla and ash. The mouth feel is heavy and viscous, it lacks the creamy character i expected. This was probably my least favorite of the 3.

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Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

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Photo of JDV
3.48/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired in a great trade with mikesgroove. Huge thanks for something I've literally never been able to buy or drink before.

11.2 ounce bottle, states bottle # 07001, Sept 2007. Very pretty presentation between the black foil wrapping and the dangling paper propaganda.

Appearance: medium black, with a medium to slightly dark brown head, moderate lacing, moderately dense head sticks around in a thin layer on top. Good lookin'!

Aroma: roasty creosote and fruit: cherries, plums. Some slightly grainy bread notes. No scotch immediately evident in the nose.

Taste: woody whisky, roast, creosote, smoke, some leather, some light chocolate, some cherries, some deep wood. The scotch influence is definitely evident, although not precisely like you'd expect it to be. If I had to guess the type of Scotch, I'd say actually say Speyside or Lowland. More peat is present, though, as it warms to room temp (after being served at cellar temp) so I can see the Highland roots.

Mouth: Fairly slick and only moderately full, has a little warmth, plenty for an 8%. Oddly, as it lingers long (like a minute or two since the last drink) I get cherry robitussin type flavors. Not unpleasant like that makes it sound, but peculiar.

Overall: A delicious beer on the whole, and quite interesting, though I feel about it much like I feel about good Scotch: I enjoy it immensely every once in a while, but wouldn't get it all the time. (I have to confess that I'm largely a bourbon guy.) It's a little harsh, and so the drinkability isn't super high beyond a snifter or so.

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Photo of Hophead101
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

had in a bottle at Zeno's in State College. quite a unique beer - ale matured in whisky casks. not much head - super dark brown - almost black - what head was there was tan. smell is roasted - chocolate malt. you can definitely smell the whisky. taste was great. a little whisky bite at first - but still a smooth taste. not as much smoke in the taste as smell. mouthfeel and drinkability much better than i would have expected for a beer like this one.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle # 04466- Bottled in September 2007.

Damn, this pours out like an Imperial Stout! This is jet black with no head at all... Its just thick and black...

Lots of different aromas present in this brew... Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, vanilla, sweet roasted malts... Its all there...man, I'm excited about this...

This is just f*#king ridiculous... Chocolatey and rich, loaded with sweet roasted dark malts and coffee, and just at the end the scotch peeks out beautifully... I'm in awe..

Seriously, this is one of the most delicious brews I've ever had. Its perfect in almost every way.. Easily the best Old Ale I've ever had... Easily...

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Photo of homebrewhawk
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle served in a brandy snifter. Poured a deep brown/black with a finger of tan head. Chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of peat smoke in the aroma. Also some fruity aromas. Medium bodied, a little thin for me. The whiskey flavor is more in the beginning. There's also plenty of chocolate and roasted malt. A little sweetness in the middle, but a very dry malt finish with cocoa.

I was a little disappointed in this. I expected more scotch character, and the body seemed a little thin. There's nothing wrong with it, but at $7 a bottle, I want a happy ending!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

When I buy a $10 12 oz bottle, I tend to want to share it, and spread the experience around. Just that kind of guy, you know. And when I share with friends a beer I probably won't re-purchase, I want to take notes for review.
But these notes tend to be on the skinny side.
Case in point:

Ola Dubh (Black Oil)

full ebon look, toasted tan head, a bit thin in the glass.

Peaty malt big in aroma...dry and deep.

Rich, thick, twisted, bittersweet, and utterly unique. Big, viscous malt..."gloopy", though?

Interesting...unique...tasty. Oh, yum.

I suppose I could pad the review by quoting from the copious label copy. That's one way. Or I could explain the circumstances. Could go even further...what was my cat doing, what was my friend wearing, what Miles Davis record was on the Hi-Fi...what favorite chalice was employed.
No, I'm not going to do that.

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Photo of radiator
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a wine glass a dark black/brown with a restrained tan head. First impression is that it's exceptionally drinkable, which is not a characteristic I do not often attribute to stouts or stout-like beers (a category to which this belongs). Mouthfeel is light but not bubbly. Flavor is largely an interesting interplay of smoke and chocolate. The Scotch flavor was not as strong as I was hoping but is nevertheless present. Overall, it's worth the somewhat high price for a single 11.2 oz bottle.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black foil
Bottle # & Date: 06981/Sep 2007

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this brew.

Poured into a tulip a nice dark brown color, some carbonation, tiny fizzy tannish head, which left some minimal sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, licoricy, slight smoke, toffee/chocolate/caramel, with some cheeries, figs, plums. The taste is slightly sweet at first, big malt flavor, some smokyness, licorice, dark fruits, with some nice tones of toffee/chocolate/caramel. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well with this one. Very drinkable, this is a very nice Old Ale. Thanks Bill, never would have thought about buying/trying this one.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of goryshkewych: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with distinctive barley notes from scotch. Taste is a mix between some really nice creamy barley notes from the barrel and some light roasted notes from the original beer. Body is quite full with a nice creamy texture, no apparent alcohol and good carbonation. Very good overall and easily drinkable which makes this one the best in this series.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle, bottle #07310, September 2007. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both decent. Aroma is roasted malt, peat, smoke, Scotch whisky and oak. The aroma is a little weak, but still nice. Taste is a little bit different than the aroma (and stronger than the aroma), it tastes like chocolate, Scotch, smoke, peat, oak/wood, dark fruit (raisins, plums) and coffee. Mouthfeel/body is medium with low/medium carbonation and a nice creamy/coating feel to it. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. Overall I think it's a good beer, I'd definitely buy it again even though it's pricey.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled September 2007
Bottle Number: 4165
Served this at cellar temperature, in a snifter, from an 11.2 ounce brown bottle. The first beer I've tried in the Ola Dubh series.

Appearance: Ola Dubh 16 pours out a deep, spent motor oil black, that not a single ray of light could penetrate. A somewhat vigorous pour resulted in a creamy, one finger, tan head that just seemed to hang there. The great head retention left a thin coating of tan lace on the glass after each sip.

Smell: A nice strong nose on this brew. Heavy Highland Park Whiskey notes definitely dominate the nose. A faint, charred wood smokiness lingers softly in the background. Tons of plum and raisin. Quite malty with a bit of earth, and a touch of chocolate. A small hint of tobacco rounds out the spicey, boozy nose.

Taste: More of the strong whiskey notes that were noted in the nose, except it quickly dissapears into the other complex flavors. A spicey mixture of plum, raisin, and tobacco seems to confuse my tongue. Small hints of wood and smoke, with a quick blast of alcohol. Almost a burnt toffee flavor in there. Finishes a bit dry and on the sweet side.

Mouthfeel: A bit dissapointed in the mouthfeel, was hoping for a thicker, almost syrupy feel. Very lightly carbonated, just a step or two above flat.

Drinkability: Decent drinkability. A little too sweet in my opinion. ABV doesn't seem to hamper drinkability at all. Not too bad overall.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Most impressive, this one is. As the lable suggests, the beer plops into the glass with a viscous, heavy appearance, rich chocolatey looking head formation that simmered to a trace before holding firm; laces well. Aromas are a fantastic display of mellow, rich, heavily toasted malts, ester-heavy grapes, plumbs, figs, dates and fruitcake. A bold rum-like aroma melds all the characteristics together. Backup notes of peat, campfire, cocoa, and a nutty coffee give much complexity. Flavors are much the same, but with a focus on the Porter / Scottish Ale notes with a hard boozy note. The tannins from the wood give a distinct nutty flavor with a mild balanced astringency and creates a moderate powdery dryness in the feel. Other textures are a fully weighted stout feel, a moderate complex bitterness, and a deep warming sensation from the alcohols. The whisky characteristics come through the flavor and aroma long into the finish. A long, lingering aftertaste keeps the beer going long after the last sip. A fantastic beer; can't wait for the 30.

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Photo of busternuggz
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I splurged on this roughly $10 bottle, and what an interesting and complex beer it was. I poured it cold into a Belgian glass and sipped it over about an hour. I also had some buttermilk oat cakes that I baked and some red leicester cheese (similar to serving suggestions from their site). It complimented the creamy texture of the oat cakes well.

Nice black opaque appearance. While cold, the aroma was conservatively "dark", but the taste had strong roast malt/chocolate up front, creamy in the middle, with a little whiskey note on the end. At "middle" temperature the aroma opened up with some raisin, and there were nice chocolate/coffee, roasty notes in the taste, still with the whiskey on the end. Near room temperature, complex dark fruit aroma which carried over into the taste more, with some nicely bitter coffee notes and a molasses-like presence, less whiskey to finish.

Overall, delicious. I felt like it had a unique three-phase taste, coming on like a Scotch ale, with cream porter/stout character in the middle and whiskey aftertaste. I agree with other reviewers that it could have used a little more "oomph" to be perfect, but this was very different and enjoyable. Take your time with it and savor.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.