Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

744 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 744
Reviews: 356
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.68%
Wants: 38
Gots: 122 | FT: 7
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 02-17-2008

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 744 | Reviews: 356
Photo of fredmugs
3.15/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I don't know what the base beer is for this but it is very disappointing. For a beer rated this highly it is just thin. Thin taste and little barrel presence.

Photo of chinchill
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle in Edinburgh.

Body is a bit too thin and I wish the flavor were closer to the aroma in terms of richness and strength. Other than these two mild complaints, this is a great beer. Prudent use of barrel aging adds some nice complexity, including hints of whisky (of course), wood and vanilla. Very smooth with the alcohol partly hidden (but high ABV is obvious).

Photo of djack8617
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass and enjoyed in late April 2015. Pours jet black with no light pen et ration. Minimal head that quickly disappears... almost has an oily character to the look.

Smell is mainly smokey and peaty with faint hints of molasses which lends to the whole brewed in scotch barrels concept.

Taste is again smokey sweet with the same peaty taste that lingers well after the first sip. Crisp yet heavy feel to the beer not something that can be quickly consumed and every sip should be cherished.

Overall very enjoyable... but perhaps not for $9/bottle from the LCBO

Photo of drmeto
4.89/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

L:
Black with brown tinges with a very tiny light brown head
-pours out very thick
S:
Vanilla,Blueberries,sweet chocolate,figs,faint coffee and toffee notes
T:
-follows the nose plus molasses and rum with a long-lingering coffee and toasty finish
F:
-very low carbonation,alcohol very well hidden,medium mouthfeel
O:
Incredible Beer.Tastewise probably the best ive had yet.

Photo of BMMillsy
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Best of the Ola Dubh series I have had. Bit more sweetness and chocolate, still nice smokey peat but not as dry and boring as some of the higher numbered year ones. Nicely done.

Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Veggie for this one.

No real head, pitch black super thick.

Nose smoked smoldering log, green olive oil, super dark thick heavy charred choc malt and fluffy nougat, caramel, big whisky barrel fudgey char,

Taste thick heavy dark malts, char and roast, powdered barrel char dust, thick lush, lots of super dark choc and fudgey cocoa, fluffy nougat, caramel, chewy nougat, a little smoke.. Mild bitterness mostly from the roast. Faint booze. Sticky but semi dry finish, chewy nougat dark choc lingering.

Mouth super thick, lighter carb, booze hidden well.

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

look: Dark ruby/cola. Not much of a tan head on the pour.
smell: Char and roast up front. Some smoke and whiskey.
taste: Surprisingly sweet at first but finishes dry with some bitter char. Lots happening in this guy.
overall: Full, rich, interesting and tasty brew.

Photo of Glorithm
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very good! But a bit expensive.

Photo of Matonika
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer has a strong iron smell along with other minerals. It tastes of a wet gravel pit. The oak is there and offers some nice tannins and vanilla notes. With plenty of peat and mineral flavors coming from barrels And water. There is baking chocolate flavor also. I liked this beer a lot it is probably the most interesting beer I have had under 10 bucks. I would definitely buy again and can't wait to try a taste of all three barrels aged beers.

Photo of Gryphon69
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle # 15565 / 2007

A- Black with a faint white head

S- Smokey, malt and then slight scotch

T- Smoke up front, almost charred wood, pretty balanced after that initial smoke hit, Malt and scotch swirl.

M- Soft, slippery

O- So ya I probably let this one sit to long, It has a overwhelming smoke/ peat flavor almost intense, malts and scotch follow up nicely after. The finish is a smokey mixture of malt and slight scotch. Still really good if you like heavy smoked beer.

Photo of DaveBar
3.87/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Purchased at the LCBO for around $6.00 for a 330ml bottle. Served at 8deg C in a tulip

A- Opens well and pours a tiny head that is gone in 30sec. Extremely dark.

S- Malt. Scotch. Molasses. Smoke

T- Faint Scotch base. Not overpowering and actually left me asking for much, much more.

M- Creamy good. Rather inspired ale.

O- Pretty good but lacking the real flavor that it can hold. Will try another older version to see if better

Food Pairing

This pretty good little stout went well with.... Smoked salmon and comb honey. Nice smattering of cheeses on the side with some crackers. Pretty nice blend that moves with the change in cheese.

Enjoy!

Photo of fx20736
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

poured into a goblet at room temp

look: black with a creamy 1 finger tan head. Decent lacing feet.

smell: subdued whisky aroma floats above a charry sweetness that whispers chocolate

taste: roasty with some coffee notes. Whisky is faint but noticeable.

feel: soft, not very carbonated. Smooth finish.

overall: tasty, good looking. What's not to like?

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 2/2012. Bottle No. 01510.

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Thin streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, caramel, toffee, chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, whisky, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa powder, char, smoke, wood, and slight whisky flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with really nice barrel aged characteristics that have held up quite well at almost 3 years old now.

Serving type: bottle.

Photo of Docmorgan78
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Good lord! If you find this on tap you should kick yourself if you don't try this awesome brew. Enough said.

Photo of infinitebruner
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

December 31, 2014

11.2 oz bottle, tulip glass

A – Inky black, completely opaque, just traces of brown bubbles on the top with minimal head retention.

S – Vanilla and warm chocolate, very light impression of whisky. Roasted malts but not too coffee-ish. Very sweet with roasty bitterness. Hops are hard to find.

T – Bitter malts and sweet chocolate, very roasty, with a touch of coffee. Whisky/barrel character is mild.

M – Very thin, light carbonation nearing none. A bit hot with the alcohol. Sweet but the bitterness of the roasted malt provides some balance.

O – A bit thin and slightly harsh, from the alcohol mostly. A lot of interesting flavor, but a bit off-balance.

Photo of Jeffo
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one quite a few years ago. I can’t remember who was responsible for getting this beer into my hands, but whoever it was, thanks very much for the brew!

From a 250ml bottle into a snifter
Bottled February 2010
Bottle 13,948
Best Before January 2013
Aged in oak casks that held Highland Park’s 12 yr. single malt scotch whisky
Name translates to Black Oil

APPEARANCE: This is indeed black oil. Pours out black and yields a two finger, medium looking, creamy, light tan head with great retention. Pitch black body with no visible carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a creamy cap and sticks to the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains and leaves some decent lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Very nice. Roasted malts, chocolate, whisky, light oak and vanilla on the nose. Touches of dark fruits and notes of leather as well. Wonderfully layered. Lovely.

TASTE: Lovely again. Very flavorful with roasted malts, some sweet dark fruits, whisky and lightly peated smoky notes up front. More oak, lightly peated whisky and roasted flavors into the swallow, yielding a bold and lingering finish of more wood and peat, whisky, vanilla, some roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate as well. Some sweet fruits show up again and add another layer of complexity. This is outstanding. Wonderfully flavorful and plenty complex.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth with a slightly sticky finish on the palate. A bit of heat lingers.

OVERALL: Excellent. This is a flavorful, well balanced and complex brew with just the right amount of peat as well. Though I’ve never had it fresh, I can imagine letting it sit until after the best by date did no bit of harm. Perhaps a touch more weight and a slightly darker colored head would make this the perfect scotch barreled stout. If you’re a monster peat fan, this won’t quite satisfy your craving. However, if you enjoy layered flavors and can appreciate balance and subtlety, this will be right up your alley. Loved this. Cheers to whoever helped out with this.

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.04/5  rDev -1.7%

11.2 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a borderline pitch black color. The head isn't very impressive, at all. Less than a finger high (off-white in shade), and featuring lousy retention. Only a thin collar is left behind, without any lacing remaining stuck to the glass. (2.75)

Smell: Oh yeah. Nothing about this aroma is punching me in the face - but that's actually good. It's wonderfully subtle yet deep. Peat-laden smoke could charitably be considered the dominant note, yet not once does it overpower the senses. It melds beautifully with notes of dark chocolate and oak. Touches of darker fruit (i.e. raisins) and caramel also appear. Going by only the aroma, it seems incredibly delicate - and delicacy beats bigness any day of the week, my friends. (4.5)

Taste: Doesn't quite impress me as much as the nose did. It starts off much like Old Engine Oil does, with notes of dark chocolate and green-tasting hops. But that finish...pure peat. In the best way. The slightest hint of oak barrel ties everything together, becoming more amplified further down the glass. Make no mistake, it does a great job of tasting like a good scotch whiskey without burning like one. (4)

Mouthfeel: A bit thin - since it's an 8% barrel-aged beer, it's forgivable. The back end is quite smooth, and semi-dry (especially considering the carbonation is quite low). Not even a hint of alcohol can be found. While it's easy to drink, the structure of the flavor profile makes it more of a sipper. (4)

Overall: At $10, it's somewhat expensive for such a tiny bottle...but considering the way they blend together porter-y notes with the barrel, it somehow becomes worth it. No, it's not spectacularly deep, but it's balanced almost perfectly. I'll have to try the other (more expensive) variants to form a proper opinion on the series - right now, though, I'm enjoying the hell out of this. (4)

4.04/5: Very solid marriage of an English-style porter and scotch, and that's just the 12-year barrels!

Photo of carlos_fleico
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%

330ml bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a very dark opaque black color. Doesn't form a lot of head - about an inch of a firm tan head that dissipates relatively quickly, leaving behind some lacing. Very viscous.(4.25)

S: Dominant smoke aroma, roasted malts. Whisky woodiness, leather, hints of dark chocolate and coffee grains, brown sugar and some syrupy sweetness. Light booze, very rich aroma. (4.25)

T: Syrup-like sweetness upfront, strong roasted malts taste is dominant afterwards. Oak, whisky. Smoky taste, similar to whisky/bourbon malts. Chocolate and some bitterness in the end, boozy. (4.25)

M: Full-bodied, very rich. Decent carbonation, smoky aftertaste, heavy sensation in the mouth afterwards. (4)

O: Another great brew from Harviestoun. Old Engine Oil is still my favorite, but this one has a lot of the oak/whisky flavors to it. A very rich and interesting beer - would pair well with a steak with a strong sauce, or also a nice beer to have after lunch as a desert. (4.25)

Photo of Dentist666
4.8/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet black beer with creamy tan one finger head. Absolutely outstanding smell - tender, milky, a bit peaty, coffee, chocolate. Flavour is viscous, peaty, whiskey, prunes, roasted malts, cofee, chocolate, all in excellent proportions, alcohol is well-hidden. Woody and mindblowing.

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours pitch black color with a 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, chocolate, toast, brown sugar, roast, raisin, fig, brown bread, molasses, vanilla, oak, tobacco, leather, peat smoke, and roast/oak earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and whisky cask notes; with great strength. Taste of big caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, raisin, fig, dark bread, molasses, vanilla, oak, peat smoke, tobacco, leather, and roast/oak earthiness. Slight roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, chocolate, roast, toast, dark bread, raisin, fig, tobacco, leather, vanilla, oak, peat smoke, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a white. Very nice complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and whisky cask flavors; with a nice balance of the oak character with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a smooth, moderately slick, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent old ale. All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and whisky cask flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

Photo of kevinlater
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330mL bottle into snifter

a: pitch black with half a finger of light tan head

s: whisky, vanilla, and smoke are pretty dominant in the nose here, but there are also notes of wood, chocolate, hints of coffee, and maybe even some syrupy sweetness. very nice

t: follows the aroma. up front is the whisky, smoke, vanilla, and wood. after that comes roasted/burnt malts, hints of toffee sweetness, and shy dark chocolate and coffee notes. the sweetness hangs around for quite a bit towards the end, but this beer does finish dry, leaving your mouth with a coffee-like bitterness and lingering smoky whisky flavours. zero alcohol presence. whisky, dark fruits (raisins, cherries), and the chocolate flavours dominate as the beer warms. zero alcohol presence. complex, delicate, and delicious

m: silky smooth medium body, nearly non-existent carbonation

o: fantastic beer. comes with a rather high price-per-volume but don't hesitate to pick this one up, especially if you dig barrel-aged beers

Photo of thehyperduck
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

330 mL bottle from the LCBO; packaged in Feb. 2012 and best before Oct. 2015. Served at cellar temperature.

Pours an opaque blackish-brown hue, with an aggressive pour generating about one finger of dense, creamy, beige-coloured head. It recedes over the next few minutes, leaving behind a loose, sea-foamy cap and collar; not much lacing. The aroma is quite sweet and enticing, with hints of molasses, oak and vanilla, as well as some figgy dark fruit notes. Slightly smoky/peaty, with a whiff of alcohol.

This is almost sinfully tasty. Molasses and toffee sweetness start us off, leading into some dark chocolate and vanilla. Light fig and raisin notes then blend alongside an oaky, peaty flavour. Smoky finish, with a touch of whisky followed by some lingering wood smoke astringency. This brew has a nice warming quality - actually a little more than I'd expect for an 8% brew, but everything comes together nicely. On the heftier side of medium-bodied, with rather weak carbonation that produces a smooth, slick coating on the palate. Great stuff.

Final Grade: 4.38, an impressive A. My only regret concerning Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 is that I neglected to pick up a second bottle of the stuff. This is a delicious ale that I would recommend highly to all BAs looking for a proper oak aged beer, and may also have some appeal to Scotch whisky fans as well. It's not cheap, but I don't mind paying for quality - and with that in mind, I'll have to keep an eye out for the other beers in the Ola Dubh series.

Photo of polloenfuego
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From a 330 ml bottle to a snifter.

Bottled in Feb 2012, enjoyed in March 2014.

A: Black, no light makes it way through this beer. There is almost no head to speak of, but instead when the beer is poured there is a feign of a head, a wisp of foam that disappears as quickly as you look at it. The result is a full glass of black liquid with a very tiny ring of brown bubbly foam on the outside.

S: malts, peat, leather, smoke, oak all working together to give a nice rich smell.

T: smoke, oak, malts, roasts/coffee and a slight vanilla sweetness on the finish.

M: fine carbonation and a fullish body but lighter than expected. Given the heavy nose and taste I would have expected a heavier beer, but did not get one.

O: I decided to let this bottle go after finding myself with a couple of the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30s. I have to say, this is a damn fine beer, and my only regret is that I didn't wait longer to open it, as I feel it would have only gotten better. There is so much flavor and character in this beer that I wish it was a 750 ml instead of a 330 ml so that I could enjoy it longer. Now...if I can get the one away from my buddy that I know he has...

Photo of spinrsx
3.52/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $7

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a tiny size frothy beige head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there isn't much lacing. The head lasted for around 2 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, grains, coffee, smoke

Taste & Mouth - There is barley any carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and coffee. There is also some faint wood and smokey/peaty/meaty flavour.

Overall - A little thin/watery and the wood doesn't really show up much. I'm also not a fan of a smoked meat type flavour in my beer. I had higher hopes for this one.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A 330ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2014. Bottled in Feb 2010; bottle no. 00494. Picked up ages ago from Booths and stashed away in my garage to mature. Ale aged in casks that previously contained Highland Park 12-year old whisky, resulting in Harviestoun's famous 'Black Oil'.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. A very dark reddish-brown hue that appears black as tar in the glass. Yields a decent head of creamy light-brown foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a patchy surface layer. Aroma of rich, fruity malt with notes of roasted grain, prunes, dried fruit, molasses/caramel, brown sugar, a hint of whisky, mild vanilla and faint smokiness. Nicely balanced, with a touch of warming booze in the background.

Tastes of dark, fruity malt with a sweet character and a lingering finish. Notes of roasted grain, dried fruit, molasses, caramel, faint chocolate, brown sugar, mild smoke, subtle whisky, a twinge of vanilla and a hint of wood. A whisper of alcohol in the background but well hidden. Somewhat sweet, with a restrained, malty bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with very light carbonation and good body. A shade more effervescence wouldn't hurt. Mildly astringent, followed by an aftertaste of roasted malt, fruitiness and a hint of whisky.

Top-notch. As barrel-aged stouts go this is quite subtle, but the character is wonderfully integrated. Looks the part, with an aroma and flavour of rich roasted malt, dried fruit and subtle whisky highlights. The body is satisfyingly unctuous, though a little more carbonation would be nice. Delicious - a touchstone in UK barrel-aged brews. This should go on your must-try list.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 744 ratings.