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

276 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 276
Hads: 561
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 6.8%
Wants: 32
Gots: 89 | FT: 4
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 276 | Hads: 561
Photo of mick303
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vertical tasting, from notes.
A - thin whispy lacing, thick black colour 4
S - coffee, plummy esters, fragrant berries, rich vanilla, raspberries. 4.25
T - more rich coffee, salt, lot of wood character, dry vanilla, very flavourful and tasty. Salty nute, dry woody finish. So complex and rich. 4.5
M - dry, some dry alcohol spice, no carbonation, thick and rich feel. 4
O - a dry berry and fruity character, no harshness, some earthy spice. Nose is is very rich, taste has smooth sweet coffee, light bitterness, toasty and honey, dry bitter coffee grounds on finish. 4.25 (571 characters)

Photo of heygeebee
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - black 'n' tan one finger head clingy lace

Smell - vanilla, roasts, choc.

Taste - dark chocolate, roast malts, vanilla, hint brown sugar.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, moderately oily

Overall - delighful beer, well balanced, and moderate bitterness. Just like dark chocolate in a glass. (299 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GRG1313 for gifting me this one.

Bottled 1/2009. Bottle # 06435.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that fades to nothing. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, molasses, smoke, wood, whisky, and some oxidation aromas. Taste is much the same with dark roasted malt, cocoa, and whisky flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness and a very slight tang on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with some complex aromas that I am enjoying slightly more than the flavor. (683 characters)

Photo of acevenom
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter glass. The beer pours dark brown to black with no head. There's some streaming carbonation that is visible on the side of the glass, but there isn't a lot of it. There are aromas of dark roasted malt, oak, vanilla, and some alcoholic character from the scotch. There's some sweetness from the malt as well as the alcohol. The taste follows the nose for the most part. There's a nice malt backbone that has some dark roastiness and toffee sweetness that mingles with the oak, vanilla, and scotch. Those oak characteristics really blend nicely with the flavors. The body is medium to full with light carbonation. The beer is smooth and drinks pretty well for a bigger beer. This is an excellent beer. (720 characters)

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Dated August 2010

A- Pours a very dark brown and settles into the glass as an oily black. Frothy tan head that lingers around for awhile.

S- Baker's chocolate, boozy scotch with hints of vanilla, oak, caramel and smoke, roasted malts.

T- Big roasty malts up front, huge flavor. The big roasty flavors give way to lots of oak and vanilla about half way through, which stays around until the finish.

M- Mostly smooth, with just a hint of sharpness towards the end. Slightly boozy, but very drinkable.

O- Very good beer with lots of flavor complexity. Big roast, oak and vanilla. (588 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this is a very interesting beer, superior in some ways to the 18yr, oddly. the pour is a matte black color, deep chocolate brown, fairly thick, and with only a thin finger of tan bubbles. the nose is raw cocoa and scotch, its musty and oaky, and the malt is about as black as it can be without being bitter and burnt. the alcohol smells are beautiful in this beer, the barrel has obviously done quite a bit to this. the flavor is surprisingly unsweetened. there is some vanilla and toasted coconut, but none of that is sugary. the alcohol adds flavor without burn, and it actually has a very mellow feel. dark chocolate and bran muffin are the dominant flavors in the finish, in addition to the scotch whiskey. full body and a smooth feel, maybe a little chalky, but the finish is long and complex. there is much to appreciate about this special brew, a very different tune to this than the American barrel aged beers. there is something particularly well refined about this, polished and calculated, intentional, as opposed to the sometimes random chance barrel offerings from this country. very impressive. (1,108 characters)

Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Review taken from notes(winter-early December 2012)

33cl brown bottle with classy Harviestoun Mouse logo just above the Highland Park style label. Info is all there with brewer, year and bottle number: 63833. Poured into a tulip style imperial pint glass.

A -Basically black in color. I suppose it's true color would be extremely dark brown. Small off white head fades quickly leaving a small ring of lace with virtually no stick.

S - hints of caramel and vanilla with some bigger molasses notes. Dark fruit mixed within. Good smokiness in the aroma. A few waves of smokey Scotch flavors. Faint sweetness in the background while keeping its roasted character.

T - Dark Fruit flavors paired with blasts of Scotch flavor done neat. Roastiness blankets the caramel and vanilla sweetness. A nice smokiness throughout. Touch of Scotch booziness in the finish.

M - oil like texture that does a wonderful job of coating the mouth. Smooth feel and very enjoyable.

O - man are these Ola Dubh style old ales good. A great brewery paired with a great distillery is what any geek dreams of. Ola Dubh is just that. The 12 was pure class and the 16 may be even better. Next is the 18 sitting in my fridge. These ales are a must try and something I'll definitely have again. (1,265 characters)

Photo of MadScientist
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
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. (1,152 characters)

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

Bottled in 09/2007. Swiss wine snifter used. Nearly 5 1/2 years old in the bottle, over 6 total.

Pours black with very little carbonation. A slight ring around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is powerful. Scotch is easily apparent. Sherry seasoned oak, "peat smoke" (I have never smelled peat but have drank enough scotch to understand what the term means for beverages), char, wood, and vanilla notes all meld together. In addition, there is a significant presence of aged dark beer that takes the form of oxidized port wine and savory meat aromas. This should be interesting.

The flavor is much less oxidized than I thought it might be from the nose. The smoke is much lass "peaty" and is more pronounced. More like a smoked piece of meat. No grain flavors are left, and the savory aspect is apparent. A touch of old dark fruit and a little sweet makes an appearance, but the smoky flavors dominate. I can't say that I taste "scotch" itself, however this certainly tastes as if it was aged in scotch barrels as opposed to bourbon or just oak. I do believe I can pick up a little sherry-seasoned oak, but that might be my imagination.

The mouthfeel shows little carbonation, but a thick medium-full body. Age may have proved a weighty opponent, but this beer must have had some serious body to begin with to have this much left now. nice overall feel that stays nice as it warms.

Conclusion: I love old beer. And I love it more when it still tastes this good! Not exactly what I expected, and all the savory flavors are a bit disappointing, but overall this is a fantastic 6 year old beer. I have wanted to try this for a long time. Now I want to find a fresher bottle! (1,676 characters)

Photo of cvm4
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled Feb. 2012

A - Pours pitch black dark with a dark tan head. Not much lacing to speak of.

S - Picking up smokey, peaty, roasty and slight metallic.

T - Oaky, smokey, peaty and vanilla. A very scotch like finish with dark fruits & light chocolate.

M - Very smooth & creamy. ABV is well hidden. Not a thick or chewy beer by any means.

O - Pleasant & enjoyable... If you like scotch, then give this series a whirl. (423 characters)

Photo of SometimesIfart
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours black as hell with a small mocha head with no light penetration. No lacing is left as well.

S -Molasses, peat, vanilla, white chocolate, alcohol.

T - Bourbon, white chocolate, peat, slight molasses. Surprisingly no burn from the aging in the Whiskey Barrels.

M - Body seems a bit watery. Seems decently oily with a medium amount of carbonation. Overall pretty lacking in this department.

O - Overall, I thought this was pretty spot on for an old ale. This particular one was bottled in July 2011 so it's about a year and a half old. I'd definitely have again. (573 characters)

Photo of Odysseyalien
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The difference between old ales and English barleywines often get blurred. This one is no exception. Has a mouthfeel not unlike a porter but with a malty sweetness, albeit soft and subtle, like a barleywine.

My first couple of sniffs exclaimed "licorice, anise...". Not a fan of licorice but it works with this brew. Thin mouthfeel and pours black as the darkest midnight.

I'm apparently a sucker for pricey beer. I'll have to add this one to the rotation...and age a few as well. (482 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grabbed a bottle from Gainesville HOB. Pours porter or stout like, with no head whatsoever. Smell is faint, maybe a bit of scotch and a bit of dark fruit, a little bit of peat and motor oil. Flavor is chocolate, scotch, oak, smoke. More complex than I expected from the smell. Medium mouthfeel with nice carbonation. This was really nice and smoky/roasty. (355 characters)

Photo of wd40
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #44676
July 2009

Sampled 2012

Interesting English style old ale with a smoke and peat flavors lent from aging in Highland Park 16 year old single malt scotch whiskey casks. Has a rich aroma of raisins, chocolate, and a little bit of leather. The aroma is very nice. The taste started off a little smokey for me, but mellowed a little and became much more enjoyable. The smoke is pretty well blended, but if it were a little more in the background I think I would give taste a higher rating. As it is, it is a beer worth a try. The base old ale is very good and the addition of the whiskey casks adds a lot of richness to the beer. Looking forward to having this one again in a few years. (696 characters)

Photo of beerandcycling88
2.84/5  rDev -31.1%
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. (582 characters)

Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a generic tulip. Date is July 2011 num 05742.

A: Head is dense medium tan, very good retention. Body is black, even along the edges.

S: Metallic with hints of smoke and roast.

T: Much smokier than I anticipated. Really gets a nice sense of the barrel from the beer. Finishes with great stout flavor, while the char carries through the whole way. Nice and clean for 8%.

M: Dense, and not too sticky, works well for this style. Finish is actually very clean.

O: Could be more balanced in terms of barrel flavors, but nonetheless a treat to drink. (580 characters)

Photo of cooler4life
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle #38619 Dated July 2009

A: Poured a midnight black color with little no head to speak of despite a rather aggressive pour. Delicate glass lacing is strung along the sides like icicle lights at Christmas time.

S: Starts with a sweet molasses and bourbon with essences of milk chocolate, sun burned hay and dates.

T: Standout. 3 years in the cellar has created a monster. Similar to the nose, but with a smoky, oaky flavors. The wood creates subtle hints of vanilla.

The ABV is nowhere to be found.

M: Delicate creaminess. For a 3 year old beer, the carbonation is slightly subdued, but that is to be expected. Has a fantastic warming sensation as it moves through the palate.

O: Fantastic beer, coupled with a cool evening and a fire pit, you have a match made in heaven. (783 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330 mL bottle poured into a Kate the Great snifter. Bottled August 2010.

Appearance - Pours a dark brown, nearly black. Brown in the pour, black in the glass. Nice khaki head and some even clings to the glass.

Smell - Roasted malt. Licorice. Definitely a touch smokey, but I don't know that I'd peg it as a Scotch aroma. Oaky.

Taste - Much more pronounced chocolate malt and a sustained hop presence. More smokey in the finish here. Bitter. Oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Bitter and quite oaky, but it's a smooth beer without much booze. Every once in a while I get a hint of the alcohol.

Overall - Not the most interesting beer, but tasty. We'll see how different the other bottles are. (686 characters)

Photo of korguy123
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled Aug 2010 enjoyed Aug 2012

Ola dubh 16

Inky oily black, two finger light tan head that is soapy and won't go away.

Dark bitter sweet chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla molasses, a slight peat and than mellow but very aromatic whiskey.

Whiskey up front, than bitter coffee and chocolate. Slight oxidation which I guess is my fault but still a great tasting beer.

Medium bodied, low carbonation. Sticky on the lips.

This one is better than the others if I remember correctly. I aged it too long in my opinion (519 characters)

Photo of LampertLand
4.51/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ola Dubh's Special Reserve#16 @ 8.0% served cold from a 330 ml bottle
A-pours a dark brown almost black with a small fine tan head that quickly dissapates leaving some spotty lacing along the pint glass
S-some smokyness , sweet chocolate malts , roasted coffee , brown sugar , hint of cherries and a lot of whiskey from the barrel aging
T-some smokyness , booze is strong yet a creamy brown sugar/vanilla sweetness in the finish , a lot fruiter than SR#12 , bit complex all the flavors going on here , wow
MF-low carbonation , thick and a bit syrupy , roasted bittersweet after taste
Ov-a sipping beer for sure , bit pricey , a yes for sure , if you can get the other Special Reserve give them a side by side taste test

Notes from tasting of SR#12 , SR#16 , SR#18 & revisited since the .25 increments

Cheers LampertLand (823 characters)

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

Poured from 330mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottled July 2011. I just had the Special Reserve 12, so this will be a good back-to-back comparison.

Appearance: just like the 12, this beer is extremely dark brown with just brown highlights around the edges. Head is a thin layer of frothy tan foam. Good looking, just like its sister.

Smell: rich, roasty, chocolatey aroma, but the 16 has hints of vanilla that I didn't get in the 12. Different, but equally good.

Taste: roasty and chocolatey flavor; there seems to be a little bit more fruitiness in the 16 than the 12. Similar alcohol bite and astringency appear toward the end. Pretty good.

Mouthfeel: silky creaminess brought on by a good body and good level of carbonation. Really quite excellent, again like the 12.

Overall: I like these beers equally well; they are very similar, but there are subtle differences. The 16 is a bit fruitier and has more vanilla than the 12; I really want to try the other 3 Ola Dubh varieties now. (988 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Saint Somewhere wine style glass. Label says bottle date July 2011.

A- Pours a deep opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains slightly before fading to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Crisply textured lacing that slides slowly down the glass.

S- Roasty nose with heavy dark chocolate and a hint of oak. Slight whiff of alcohol and a tad sweet.

T- Flavor starts out roasty but makes an abrupt turn to a bold but smooth oak taste and finishes smokey. The old lady refers to it as a burnt flavor, but it's so much more complex than that. Notes of chocolate, peat, and faint whiskey. Alcohol? Barely noticeable. Not as sweet as in the aroma. Lingering smoke in the aftertaste.

M- Creamy and lush with an amount of prickliness from the smoked malt. Medium carbonation and a full body.

O- So complex and enjoyable. Easy to drink with a delightful melding of dark beer and scotch flavors. Even better than the 12 year which was considerably less smokey. I don't enjoy overly smokey beers but this one has a striking balance. Damn near perfect. (1,110 characters)

Photo of CookstLiquor
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle. The colour on this is a gorgeous deep brown-black that has red tints when held up to the light. Looks pretty black in the glass with a very thin brownish head. On the nose there were heaps of caramel, molasses and spice. You don't get cheated flavour-wise either when it comes to the Highland Park whiskey notes. They are all over this intense, barrel-aged brew. It actually made me want to chase each sip with a wee sip of whiskey. (460 characters)

Photo of evilkalla
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Serving: Bottle into an ale glass.

A: Pours clear, very dark brown, almost black. No head to speak of. A few hints of carbonation but mostly flat otherwise.

S: Smells of coffee and wood. Some hints of dark and sweet malt. A little earthy too. Very subtle.

T: Almost has porter-like taste up front, followed by the somewhat sweeter malts I would expect in an old ale. It has just the slightest hint of whiskey and wood. Fairly smooth. Not bad at all.

M: Feels perfect.

O: This is a good beer, definitely for sipping. However I don't know if the price justifies trying it more than once. (592 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
2.95/5  rDev -28.4%
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. (656 characters)

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 276 ratings.