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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.

538 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 538
Reviews: 273
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.17%
Wants: 30
Gots: 78 | 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:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 02-15-2008

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 538 | Reviews: 273 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of goalie33
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.15/5  rDev -23.7%
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.

Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of KaiserTrey
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of sbricker
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of eric5bellies
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours dead Black colour with a tanned two fingered head that diminishes quite quickly to a thin film.

S - A little smoke and sweetness

T - Up front some nice malt flavours. The Vanilla in this is very impressive.The finish is very creamy and smooth. I love this beer.

M - Full body and creamy feel, low carbonation.

O - I really like this brew the vanilla flavours are fantastic. Recommended.

Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle 8,0% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in a tulip wine glass.
Bottle date: Sept 2009
Bottle Number: 04461

Appearance: Ola Dubh (Black oil) lives up to its name - the beer looks pitch black in the glass, a strong backlight reveals the faintest hint of red on the edges. A rough pour yields a good sized creamy, tan coloured head that fades slowly and leaves a thin cap that lasts the whole way down.

Smell: Stunning nose - perfect combination of porter and smokey whiskey barrel. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, tons of earthy peat, campfire smoke, vanilla, burned raisins, licorice, oak and a touch of sea spray are all noted.

Taste: As with the nose, absolutely stunning. Initially sweet chocolate followed by earthy peat, oak, smoke and sea spray. The flavour is rounded out by a lovely bitter roasted finish. So complex and yet balanced and pretty easy drinking.

Mouthfeel: Just fuller than a medium body with a perfect level of ultra smooth carbonation. What a pleasure this beer was to drink!

Overall: Stunning beer! I will most certainly be having this one again.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.94/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There actually is a resemblance of Highland Park in here, and I was very skeptical. I get it on the nose, along with some roasty notes & cocoa. Appearance was lacking, with virtually no head at all. On the palate a smooth beer comes across nicely with flavors of roasted malts, peat smoke, and some boozy qualities resembling the aforementioned whisky. Finishes roasty and hot. A slow sipper.

Photo of rapidsequence
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle. $9.99 from Beer Run. Bottled July 2009.

Appearance: Pretty much black. Some light brown head with short lived retention. Just a few spots of lacing in the snifter.

Smell: Bittersweet chocolate and roast. Smoky, peaty. Lots of scotch with phenol-like characteristics.

Taste: Big time scotch flavor. Very smoky and peaty, but not hot with alcohol taste. Some chocolate and roasted malt in the middle, and more roast and bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a slight stickiness. Carbonation is just right. Roast, alcohol, and oak tannins on the finish make it slightly dry.

Overall: This is a really tasty beer, but the scotch overtakes the beer a little too much. I do like the scotch flavor a lot, but it outcompetes the underlying beer, which is a shame.

Photo of danieelol
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Duvel tulip/Victory glass. Pour is black with good head/lacing.

Initially there is little sign of the barrel in the nose. It's the Belgian malt of Old Engine Oil. Then it comes in waves. Apple, pear. Then banana. Lots of banana. Tiny bit of alcohol. Some caramel.

Taste is slightly sweeter than Old Engine Oil. Definitely get the banana roast and caramel. Taste is nice. Roasty and bitter.

Mouthfeel is a little thin and alcoholic with low carbonation.

Overall this beer has a nice balance of flavours but I feel the barrel presence is a little bit too subtle and the mouthfeel a bit too thin to prevent a higher score. Nice nose though, works well.

Photo of MrKennedy
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer and poured into a Murrays tulip style glass.

Jet black appearance, with a tan head of foam that started at two fingers and reduced to just above film. Nice streaky lacing all round the glass. Thicker pour than i recall from the Ola Dubh 30.

Smell is predominantly the whisky barrel, get a bit of wood, but mostly the whisky itself. Get some roasted malt as well.

With the taste there is more balance between the base beer and the whisky ageing. Some nice roasted malt flavour, working in well with the whisky and some chocolate late.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, big body, befitting the style and what was attempted here. Nice and full, decent balance on the finish between fullness and a bit of whisky bite. Can't think of a way that they could improve this aspect.

Overall, shame there wasn't more on the nose of this. It is otherwise a very nice whisky aged beer using one of my favourite readily available single malts.

Photo of wnh
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Sept 2007, consumed Sept 2010.
Bottle #11485.

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a dark, opaque mahogany topped by a think and fizzy fleeting dark tan head. Subdued hiss upon popping the cap; this has definitely lost some carbonation with age.

Nose is very similar to the 12 year, but a bit brighter and fruitier, and richer on the whole. Aromas of milk-chocolate-covered cherries, tobacco, dried leaves, peat, a touch of buttery caramel, alcohol, perhaps a hint of vanilla from the oak.

On the palate, again this is very similar to the 12 year, but with subtle but clear differences. Lightly roasted, almost just heavily toasted. Pear-like fruitiness, bittersweet chocolate, oaky caramel, boozy vanilla, faintly earthy and perhaps mossy. Finishes dry, a bit tannic perhaps.

Smooth, but far from viscous. Medium bodied, between soft and firm. Lightly mouthcoating.

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - mostly pitch black, decent thumb of mocha head had respectable retention with thick consistent lacing
S - fruity notes of raisins and blackberries, strong roasty and licorice odours, mild chocolate
T - black currant juice, chalky bakers chocolate, heavy burnt roastiness, finishing with mild smokiness and alcohol heat
M - not quick chewy but decently heavy, alcohol heat gives way to full malty mouth coating with some chaulkiness
O - a big flavourful brew, the whiskey cask aging is mostly overwhelmed but that doesn't matter as there is enough flavour levels as is, looking forward to trying the other vintages

Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer much like it's partners in crime pour out nice and black. Thin looking brown head in this beer. The smell of the beer gives off plenty of smokey whiskey/scotch aromas. The taste of the beer gives off a mouthful of scotch like flavors with some smokey and burnt malts. The mouthfeel is smooth with a low carbonation, kind of on the oily side. Overall it's a pretty enjoyable brew, I find the older barrels to be far better but this was a good starting point for me.

Photo of andrenaline
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours puitch black with a thin layer of mocha head with litte retention or lacing.

S - Chocolate notes dominate with a touch of peat alongside some espresso.

T - Milk chocolate off the top with a touch of scotch that lingers. Cocoa malts are surprisingly present with some ABV heat detectable, but the smokey peat notes are a little subdued.

M - Medium bodied, though could use a bit more carbonation lift, goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - Overall, full flavoured ale that is worth a try. That being said, I much preferred the 30 year offering. This one lacked the scotch notes that I was hoping for.

Photo of ADZA
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle number 12623 and it pours a dark as night black hue with average carbonation that leaves behind a fast vanishing one finger head and some clingy lacing,the smell is blackberries,blueberries,barley and oak i like this smell,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and super slick with tastes of caramel,toffee,blackberries,dark bitter coffee and finished with a bittersweet hit of dark chocolate and overall its very interesting how this brew is so different to the 12yr and yes i would buy again so suited for tonights cold.

Photo of erosier
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a deep black color with a medium to tall sized thick tan colored head that laces the glass nicely on the way down.
S: Smells of peat, oak, scotch, sweet roasted malts, hints of caramel, toffee, and chocolate.
T: Tastes of a very nice scotch mixed with a really good beer. Oak, peat, and scotch flavors dominate only slightly over a sweet roasted malt base, caramel malts, toffee, chocolate, and a bit of smoke followed by the scotch flavors at the end.
M: Rich, smooth, warming, perfect amount of carbonation, kind of heavy, but really nice.
D: Overall not a very drinkable beer, but it was a damn good sipping one. Excellent flavors mixed very well made it worth every penny.

Photo of AaronHomoya
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Near black color with mild carbonation and a tan head that fades to nearly nothing. Aroma of dark fruit, plums, boozy raisins and chocolate. Scotch comes though much more in the flavor. Meaty, chocolate flavors and a peaty finish. A fairly light body, relatively speaking, actually. Dry finish in the mouth. This is a very nice beer. Just saw that there is a 40-yr version that would be awesome to try too.

Photo of jondeelee
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ola Dubh 16 lets the imbiber know from the first whiff that something extraordinary is about to happen. There are, of course, several beers that boast having been aged in used whiskey/wine/scotch/rum/etc. casks, but few of those beers smell so intensely of the cask's former contents. Old Dubh's nose is a mixture of near-black ale, with dark caramel sugars, chocolate malt, peat, coffee, and tobacco aromas, mixed with the scent of aged whiskey and charcoal.

On the tongue, the ale is so immediately dark and foreboding that it's hard to imagine this was made out of grains, and not crafted directly from ash. Huge tobacco and coffee flavors dominate the taste, as well as peat and black malt, and a continuation of the whiskey charcoal from the nose. A good sampling of heavy sugars, port wine, and dark fruit esters (banana, fig, raisin) complement the bitter malts, barely balancing the brew. The aftertaste is a joy of tobacco and coffee, and lingers much like good whiskey. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is light.

Overall, while I can't say this beer is going to appeal to everyone--in fact, I doubt few will be able to enjoy its extraordinarily intense flavors--it is an amazing accomplishment. I doubt it's possible to cram more flavor into a bottle.

Photo of stevenseg
3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of beerdrifter
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at the biggest beer store in the UK, Beers of Europe Ltd. Bottled in Sept. 2009. Pitch black pour with two finger tan head with decent retention and lacing. Earthy, peaty, woody, whiskey notes dominate the nose. Roasty malt sweetness with lots of chocolate are also present. The first sip is intense and full of rich, peaty smoke. As it comes to temperature it really mellows out and opens up nicely. Complex roasty taste with hints of bittersweet chocolate, oak, vanilla, espresso, caramel, and just a touch of raisins, peat and whiskey. The mouthfeel is slightly oily but smooth as silk. Was really expecting a lot more alcohol burn but it was subtle at best. Drinkability is off the charts for a beer like this. It was the perfect choice for an unseasonably cold day here in Germany.

Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have passed by the Ola Dubh Special Reserve beers for a while now simply because of the price tag, but decided to grab this one at Oak Tree Discount last time I was in NJ. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Bruery tulip. Bottle #40661, dated July 2009.

a - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with an inch and a half of tan head and low carbonation evident. Head lasts for two minutes and then fades into a few bubbles.

s - Smells of whiskey, wood, caramel malts, nuts, roasted malts, toffee, alcohol, and light chocolate. Pretty nice, with a lot of whiskey, caramel, and nuts mixing together.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, whiskey, smokey malts,light coffee, and light oak. Not quite as much whiskey as the nose, and a lot roasted malts and smokey malts. Nice, but a slight step down from the nose.

m - Full bodied old ale with moderate carbonation.

o - Overall I enjoyed this old ale, but it was a little bit disappointing. The whiskey is there in the nose, but it wasn't quite as enjoyable as I was hoping for, and it was drown out in the taste by the smokey malts a bit. Still a very good beer, but not really worth the price tag in my opinion.

Photo of alexhahn82
3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A --- Very dark cola black with little to no head.

S. Smells like Coffee with a hint of sweetness and applelike scent.

T/M - Very dark roast flavor, similar to coffee and maybe a hint of toffee. Finishes with nice tones of whiskey.

Overall: Not bad at all, price point of $12 is a little steep, but judging by the distance it traveled and the barrels it was in I would say it was worth it, especially to split between 2 or 3 people. Def. worth a try!

Photo of sweemzander
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle poured into a snifter. January 2009 bottled date. Bottle # 07659.

(A)- Pours a fairly thick, nearly pitch black color. Produced a nice cap of tan foam that dissipated after awhile. Some lacing here and there.

(S)- An oaky charred wood and peat caramel aroma. Hints at licorice.

(T)- Similar to the smell. An oaky charred aspect with a salty peat from the whiskey barrels. Bits of caramel and raisin.

(M)- A smooth and mellow carbonation level. Rich whiskey components with a smooth caramel sweetness; minimal bitterness. You cant taste that 8% ABV anywhere.

(D)- Superior to the 12 year old. This really portrays and showcases the scotch barrels well without being overpowering or boozy. A fine old ale and probably right at a good age in the bottle at this point. Good stuff.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 538 ratings.