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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.

468 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 468
Reviews: 266
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.44%
Wants: 26
Gots: 60 | FT: 2
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)
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Photo of triptens


4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

07 Vintage
Tasted in order:
Ola Dubh

Appearance: Looks like a deep, dark, wooden brown coming from the bottle and turns to a dark black in the glass. Milk chocolate 1/2 head which fades quickly and bubbles favor to one side of the glass.

Smell: Roasted malts and chocolate are in the forefront. Vanilla comes through from the oak, scotch really isn't that prevalent, just get a touch of smokiness.

Taste: Very smoky and roasty. A touch of bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. The scotch comes through in the palate with just a subtle hint of peat.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, silky. Everything you could ask for.

Drinkability: Amazing complex beer, like the rest of them. Each year has a different component to them, it's fun to see what the age on the scotch does to these beers. Screw having a dram of scotch, just drink these beers!

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2009 23:43:35 | More by triptens
Photo of Pencible


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

2007 vintage. This looked the same as the 12 year Ola Dubh - nearly opaque dark mahogany with a bit of tan head. It smelled almost identical (chocolate and caramel and honey wheat and roasted coffee, with a bit of alcohol) with an added bit of tart apple and prune. It tasted similar also, (roasted barley and burnt coffee and molasses, with a strong oak and peat finish), very dark and roasty with even more peat and burnt coffee flavors. It had a bit more carbonation, and a stronger peat and oak aftertaste with a bit of alcohol warming. Overall this was bolder and had more scotch character than the 12 year. It began to enter the realm of only being enjoyable for those who like scotch. (Luckily, that includes me!) It had great depth and richness, but it wasn't quite as sweet as I wished. Despite already being 2 years old, even more age could probably improve this further.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2009 23:23:37 | More by Pencible
Photo of laituegonflable


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

Pours very dark, with a very slight brown tinge at the very edge. Doesn't seem to be much of a bead, while head is thin with visible bubbles forming an ochre crown atop this dark matter. Leaves some decent, but slippery, lacing. Looks alright.

Nose is very sour and burnt, smoked meaty characters with a strong pork aroma, hints of oak and baked pear as well, maybe some cumquat characters. Very smokey and insanely dry and desolate, but fantastically powerful. Roasty and burning me up like unrequited love.

Taste is similarly dark, with very strong sour flavours; strong wood smoke, BBQed pork, underripe grape characters, hints of some bitter chocolate and fig, makes my tongue recoil at first, then come crawling back for more because it's intrigued by the mystique and wants to explore it more deeply.

Very interesting palate, slightly gritty and with a definitely pleasant over-roasted character complemented well by some nice sour, woody, organic characters. Doesn't overdo either, just hits you with the power. That's the power of love.

Mouthfeel is velvety and slick, if not smooth. It feels slightly watery but goes down well and sits nicely for a while. Not my #1 choice for drinking, but it's a great beer. Just makes me feel slightly uneasy.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2009 04:12:10 | More by laituegonflable
Photo of berkey


3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 fl oz bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip.

Pours coal black. Smallish loose bubbly brown head with mediocre retention. Not much in the way of lacing.

Aromas are earthy, smokey, and woody with some spice, faint chocolate and yeast.

First impression of the flavor is that it's much milder than expected. Very small amounts of fruit and alcohol to start out. The bulk of the flavor is in the aftertaste where the earthy smoke character on the nose is much more recognizable as peat. There's also something here that keeps me thinking of sea salt. The 8% ABV is a little low for the style though and I think I'm missing it.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for my expectations of the style but the low ABV keeps it more drinkable than most.

Overall the most remarkable thing about this one is how much of the flavor of the spirit orignally in the barrel they managed to carry over to the ale. The brew itself, however doesn't have much to it in my opinion, especially for an Old Ale. Maybe that's actually why the Scotch flavors come through so well. Interesting but won't purchase again. I can get better for the price.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2009 00:58:59 | More by berkey
Photo of Aenema


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours jet black with a soapy two finger tan head. Splotchy lacing.
Smell - Smoke, bacon, slight peat/whiskey notes.
Taste - Similar to the smell, lots of smoke, some bacon and chocolate on the end. Nice whiskey notes throughout.
Mouthfeel - Moderate body/carbonation. Not as thick as one would expect for a beer this flavorful. Creamy, smooth with a clean finish for such a rich beer.
Drinkability - Very smooth and easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2009 15:31:56 | More by Aenema
Photo of drpimento


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bottle at Sam's in Chicago last week. This is way more subtle, mild, and less fruity than the 12 of this seriies. Bigger tan head. No highlights - opaque. Milder nose of the whiskey, malt, chocolate, coffee. Silky body. Smooth. Very rich yet elegant yet robust beer. Less apparent booziness, yet same abv. Yummy.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2009 00:53:41 | More by drpimento
Photo of yelterdow

New Jersey

4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle #07670 from 2007, I'll be serving this beer at cellar temperature in a Chimay chalice with crackers and havarti cheese. Much like a fine piece of heirloom furniture, the bottle is signed off on by the head brewer and master of wood. Impressive start.

Appearance- Much darker than I expected, this chocolately brown ale glugs out of the bottle and supports a brown, creamy finger-thick head that reduces slowly to a thin coating. Dots of lacing sporadically adorn the inside of the glass.

Smell- Almost a blend between a rich, decadent Imperial stout and a superbly aged whiskey... the nose is of chocolate, peat, dark fruit, and malt. Just sitting here with my nose immersed in this beer is a joy.

Taste- Immensely huge and complex, the barrel aging infuses a glorious Highland Park whiskey middle and finish that complements all of the flavors here... initially bitter chocolate, and then a more complex fruitiness. I am loving the peaty wood character that envelops the overall delivery... and the fabulous hop bitterness just seals it. What a great beer.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- A prickly beginning quickly eases and becomes more frothy. It never inhibits or overshadows the masterful array of flavors, rather it fades into the shadows. This is so rich, so deep with complexity that I would love to have more of these on hand for a random nightcap. The havarti cheese pairing proved to be absolutely perfect... one of the best beers in recent memory.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2009 03:04:45 | More by yelterdow
Photo of david131


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

A- A deep dark black with some light getting through at the edges, but only by a small amount. The brown head lasts for awhile and settles to a nice covering and leaves some nice lacing.

S- Dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, smoke, scotch with some vanilla and peat. Everything is blended nicely together and smells very well done albeit a bit mellow.

T- Some smoke and peat with background of chocolate. Not quite as complex as the aroma let me to believe. Still mellow and enjoyable.

M- Creamy and smooth, but not overly thick. The carbonation level is nice.

D- A mellow sipper. It is enjoyable and nice to see a beer like this with the ABV not off the charts. But... this is not $10 a bottle good.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2009 02:52:01 | More by david131
Photo of LaPeste


3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle $9.99 from Vendome in North Hollywood. Bottle No. & Date: 09402/Sept. 2007

A: Pours black with perhaps a hint of red w/ quickly dissipating 1/2 finger brown head. No lacing.

S: Chocolate and coffee up front. Hickory, meat, whiskey.

T: Salami, cheese(!), alcohol, perhaps a hint of scotch but very concealed and mellow if so, very much a smoke beer.

M: Well textured, low carbonation, smooth

D: Alcohol burn and warm as swallowed. This beer makes itself ever present, a little bit much at times.

Overall, worth a try. I'm interested in trying the 12 and 30 year varieties.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2009 04:25:55 | More by LaPeste
Photo of Overlord


2.7/5  rDev -34.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2009 07:25:01 | More by Overlord
Photo of Beejay


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

A: Deep dark black, oily, and heavy.. Cappuccino colored head, that dissipates to bubbles..

S: Deep dark chocolate, sea salt, oak, whisky, and peat smoke. Earthy, pungent and damp like earth after a rain.

T: First thing that comes through is the smoke. followed by a nice sweet stout flavor. Ends with a very deep malt note. Just delicious. I thought iit would be a bit bigger, but it is very nice, subtle and balanced.

M: A little lighter in mouth feel than I would imagine, it could be a bit creamier, and thicker.. Still good.

D: My 100th beer review.. Not a major land mark, but still. An excellent choice for this occasion. Delicious smokey and dark. I would do this again, but this is definitely a closer.. beers after this one are going to taste watery and light.. the only way to progress is to move to the hard stuff.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2009 02:55:39 | More by Beejay
Photo of csmiley


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark brown and almost borders on black. Little to no light gets through this one. Head is minimal. It is tan, slow to rise, and can't even make a full cap on the brew when it's all said and done. Retention and lacing are hard to review because of this fact.

S - Good amount of wood in the aroma to start. Some cocoa and warm alcohol quickly follow. Dark fruit - cherry and plum - bring up the rear. Some granola lingers at the very end and is hard to pick out of the other aormas.

T - Cocoa and sweet bread dominate at first but have a nice backdrop of cherry, fig, and plum. Heavy wood and smoke flavors linger midway to end. Whiskey is strong, hot, and dry towards the end. Just enough complexity to keep picking up the glass and look for ther flavors to come through.

M - Fuller side of medium bodied. Carbonation is minimal and works well. Finish is dry and quite hot. Hot in a a good way though.

D - Drinkability is good. This one is definitely for the whiskey lover. The beer comes across as pretty bold which makes it a sipper but the complexity is there so that in no way hinders the brew. It's nice how it starts out with the typical beer flavors and finishes strong with the big alcohol. Well done, Harviestoun. The only real flow is the appearance could use a little work. Other than that, it is a solid brew. Very solid.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2009 04:24:20 | More by csmiley
Photo of DigitalHype


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle
Bottle No. & DATE: 16044/Sept 2007

Very dark brown, almost completely opaque, with 1cm creamy, tan head. It slowly dissipated to a nice permanent surface. Lots of sticky lacing, all the way down.

The nose has wonderful hardwood smoke, baked bread, and faint dark fruits.

Smokey. Much like a good BBQ pit flavor. Echoes of single-malt, and some earthy mushroom. There is a slight coffee-like bitterness, which is balanced just right. Very good!

Moderate to light carbonation, and feels slightly sticky. A little bit thinner than the 30. But, still very well executed, and dangerously drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2009 00:51:54 | More by DigitalHype
Photo of goatxpower


3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pitch black with thin beige head.

S- scotch, with some vineous overtones.

t- Big malt, peat, honey, chocolate, roasted coffee. Nice smokeyness but not too blatant. Slightly fruity.

M- thick and sticky. Lasting peat smoke.

D- I liked it a lot, but don't see myself buying it again anytime soom.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2009 13:24:24 | More by goatxpower
Photo of jjanega08


3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A= Pours a very oily black color with no head coming from it. Looks like syrup in a glass. Looks super thick and somewhat lifeless. I expect the lifelessness though. No head means no lacing.
S= quite complex combination of scotch, wood, vanilla, syrup, and chocolate malt.
T= Not nearly as rough as I thought it was gonna be. Super rich sweet vanilla and syrup come through. The chocolate malt finishes with the scotch whiskey taste. The whiskey is actually a lot more relaxed than I thought as well. Pretty woody beer and nice vanilla touch.
M= Smooth almost no carbonation coating and not as heavy as I thought.
D= Pretty good beer here. I'm happy I got it prolly won't get it again just because the cost and the fact that it's nothing too mind blowing but it is quite delicious and works nicely to sip on during a baseball game.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2009 00:41:33 | More by jjanega08
Photo of Sigmund


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. Bottle No. 61520. ABV is 8.0%. Pitch black colour, big to moderate and creamy tan head. The whisky oak cask with peaty smoke and notes of tar comes through in the aroma, followed by notes of roastiness (roast malts, coffee) and chocolate. The aroma is more mellow and subdued than the 12 y.o., but still nice. The flavour has also here loads of rich malty sweetness, immediately followed by distinct notes of peaty smoke - it is again quite amazing what impact the whisky cask has. Dark chocolate in the middle. The finish has a firm bitterness from the hops and burnt malts, while the peaty smoke lasts through the long aftertaste. A truly impressive beer, but if you don't like scotch whisky at all, this might not be the beer for you. Not easy drinking (somewhat smoother than the 12 y.o., though), but a great sipping beer, and a real treat for any lover of peatiness.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2009 20:47:40 | More by Sigmund
Photo of soupyman10

District of Columbia

4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a bottle of this as a birthday present. Nose is huge chocolate and roasted malt. Just a touch of hops in the back. Light licorice and booze. Definite dried fruit in the way of prunes or raisins. Flavor is similarly monstrous and delicious. Hops come through a lot stronger, and heavy roasted malt, dried fruit, light chocolate. Smoke and whiskey flavors. Cookies and some light brown sugar. Body is solid, almost oily at times, with mild and smooth carbonation. Overall, a very nice beer, although I have a guess at the steep price and probably won't be dropping the loot for another.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2009 00:03:37 | More by soupyman10
Photo of thryn


4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this earlier tonight at the Cock 'n Bull.

Poured dirty-oil black with no head but a bit of tan lace on top.

Smelled like whisky and malt and sin. Hint of smoke.

Taste was spicy, woody whisky, deep black overripe fruit, peat and intensely bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel was freaking amazing. Pretty damn thick, but the spiciness imparted by the cask made it feel more carbonated than it was.

Drinkable? Well, I had a bit more than half of one, and I could have consumed the whole bottle with little difficulty. Especially out by the fire.

Possibly my No. 2 beer after Goose Creek's BCS right now. Amazing. I will probably buy a bottle to drink at home and revisit this review.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2009 07:41:22 | More by thryn
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 05517. Bottled Sept. 07.

A: Poured a dark roasted coffee coloring with a thin, 1 finger, creamy dark khaki colored head. Retention was short while a thin slight film ring lacing encircles the glass.

S: A really strong roasty nature of fresh espresso beans with light hints of dried vanilla. Smoky peat, bitter chocolate with an earthy bitterness adds to the flavor. Dark fruit (prunes) with light hints of dark molasses sneaks some sweetness in before a finishing touch of whiskey comes in.

T: Bitter, acidic with dark roasted barley, wet coffee grounds first greets the taste buds. Scorched malting with a smokey dried vanilla bean bean and whiskey notes are also well accounted for. A charred woodiness with a campfire minerality provides a smoother and enticing lingering earthy fade while dark fruit (prunes) also linger about. Bitter dark chocolate and coffee with sweet scorched molasses all combine for a beautiful well rounded and very smooth flavor that you just cant seem to get enough of.

M: medium viscosity and creamy in nature. A very soft carbonation adds to the silkiness of the overall feel. Very nice as it effortlessly slides around the tongue.

D: Drinkability was overall impressive from start to finish. A dark roasty treat that was layered in complexity makes this extraordinary in mostly all aspects. A definite wow factor when drinking this beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2009 01:17:32 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of morimech


3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle No. 17160/Sept 2007

Pours a thick, black liquid with no head. Just some light spotty lacing. Has notes of vanilla, peat, whisky, and alcohol in the aroma. The flavor consists of heavily roasted malt, vanilla, smoke, tobacco, peat that lends an earthiness, and a little whisky and alcohol. Leaves a burnt flavor in the mouth at the finish. The body is not as full as I would of liked. The carbonation is good and not intrusive in the enjoyment of the beer. Overall I think I liked the 12 Reserve more. I think the flavors were not as bold and in a sense more complex in the lower numbered one.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2009 18:05:46 | More by morimech
Photo of RemyLeBeau


1.5/5  rDev -63.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2009 04:56:27 | More by RemyLeBeau
Photo of Redwood21


4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i am just going to give my overall impressions of this ber:

the appearance is ok though the head is a bit lacking for an 8% beer i enjoyed this beer quite a lot and it has a great deal of depth. the scotch character is not overwhelming and the taste and drinkability reflect this. i hate to short change such a good beer so here it is:

if you like a smokey meaty old ale with a fair mount of oak tannins that create a vanilla taste...shazam, you have your beer

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2009 03:32:31 | More by Redwood21
Photo of Rchap1


3.18/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2009 17:02:18 | More by Rchap1
Photo of cvfish


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

A - This beer poured a deep black color that produced a foamy tan head that had good retention and left a decent lace on the side of the glass

S - The aromas that were produced by this beer were chocolate, molasses, and a little heat

T - The taste of this beer was nice malty beginning, bitter chocolate, molasses, a whiskey taste and burn that was quickly was replaced by a smokiness

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium to heavy body that was very syrupy and had a light amount of carbonation

D - This was a very good Whiskey/Stout combo, but I really did not taste much of a difference in the other two that I have had, but it was still good

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2009 00:35:02 | More by cvfish
Photo of rwrk42

New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The don't say engine oil on the label for nothing. Dark as can be with a nice tan head.
Smell: Sweet smell mixed with a nice faint aroma of scotch whiskey from being aged in a cask.
Taste: A sweet taste of toffee and chocolate. Very faint taste of scotch, a little less than I was hoping for. Very much like a Stout.
I was hoping for a bit more of a scotch flavor but overall a very good beer with I would recommend. Nice amd smooth.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2009 01:28:47 | More by rwrk42
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 468 ratings.