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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.

364 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 364
Hads: 782
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 16.71%
Wants: 44
Gots: 143 | FT: 11
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 02-17-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (30) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 364 | Hads: 782
Photo of HattedClassic
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice chocolate brown head that dissipates quickly. The foam looks pretty nice and the texture is a little bit creamy. The beer itself is a nice and opaque black with a pretty smooth and slightly creamy texture. Overall, it has a very nice look after being aged for a while.

The smell has some strong sweet chocolate notes that are surrounded by wooden oak notes and a nice strong whiskey note. The whiskey note is a bit peaty but complements the beer rather well.

The taste is a bit different from the smell even though it has the same notes. The sweet chocolate note is still the main flavor present in the beer but there are hints of cocoa and a nice whiskey peatness that complements it as well.

The feel is pretty good. The beer is heavy bodied and goes done with a fairly slick feel to it. The carbonation is light and effervescent but doesn't detract from it in any way.

Overall, a fairly good beer even though it's been aged for several years. I'm sure the younger bottles are more fresh and have stronger notes than the whiskey. It's a pretty good ale for the price and worth the price. Go for it.

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Photo of DIM
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on cask at the Bulls Head in Lititz PA. According to Harvietoun's website, that means my glass 10.5% abv. The pump handle noted that this came from first fill sherry casks. I'm a bit confused about that.

This was a dark, chestnut brown and it came to me with a small, but long lasting and firm looking mocha colored cap. I smelled roasty cocoa and coffee, smokey peats, sharp, perfumed alcohol, and faint soy sauce. The aroma overall was subtle and nuanced with many layers.

This tasted every bit as good as it smells. There wasn't one element that dominated the flavor profile, but there was a good deal of subtle complexity at work here. I found stout like roastiness that tasted of bitter chocolate and coffee grounds. There was also a salty, smokey component that asserted itself mid-palate. Toward the end oaky leather and tobacco gave way to strong whiskey exhale.

This was full-bodied and oily with gentle carbonation. Maybe the best cask offering I've enjoyed to date.

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Photo of maximum12
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my lovely wife for this, a birthday present a couple of weeks ago. 11.2 ounces bottle dated July 2011, poured into a Hunahpu’s glass, which may tear the space-time continuum.

The pour is dead black, with only the thinnest ring of of small bubbles along the edges of the glass. Stick your nose in & prepare for greatness: huge chocolate notes, strong scotch, & a mortar of an almost syrup-like sweetness holding it together. Lovely.

Ola Dubh 12 has that distinctive peat character that comes from old-country barrels. There’s a long wisp of smoking peat bog mixed in with the soft tones of U.K. whiskey. It’s more of an earthy, old oak (if that makes sense) kind of whiskey than the sharper, younger U.S. veins. Mid-palate brings much lighter chocolate than the nose, good fresh syrup, brown leather jacket, bit of roast & wood. The finish, though, is all about the peat. Very thick, & I find myself very sip-curious.

Good to the last drop. Not a lot of beer character, but the barrel is delicious. Good beer.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with very little head. Some woodiness in aroma but to be honest the barrels/whiskey component, teamed with the roasted malts in this beer, give beer a smoky aroma (not meaty). Sticky and full-bodied, this beer packs a punch with a strong roasted/toasted malts sensation that at times comes off as burnt or smoky. Caramel/toffee/chocolate sweetness gives beer a little bit of sugary sweetness while taking off some of the hardness of beer and beer passes easy thanks to barrels (minimal vanilla sweetness) and finishes with a slightly boozed up kick.

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

Bottle from Feb 2014

A: poured into a snifter to a deep brown to black with a finger of dense tan head that fades to a collar around the edge of the glass leaving minimal lacing
S: Smells of dark fruits, caramel and toffee with a little whiskey influence
T: Taste is a little plum and raisin with some oak and slight smoke. Light caramel and toffee sweetness. Swallow is more oak and smoke with some lingering dark fruit flavors.
M: fairly full on the palate with soft carbonation that's perfect for the style.
O: This may be one of my best purchases made on a whim ever. The flavors and complexity are just fantastic and it drinks very well. Considering the price per bottle this is a great value and it doesn't have the hype of something like Bourbon County.

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

330 ml bottle (bottled 8/13) poured into a Teku.

A- Black, head is brown, weak, but leaves some decent lacing.

S- Strong oak and whisky notes. Subtle coffee, chocolate, and some really bready character.

T- Oaky, big whisky/booze. Some sweetness, dark chocolate, but dampened by the booze.

M- Full body. Boozy. Dry whisky finish.

O- Really nice. Tastes like some one dropped a shot into my ale.

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Photo of Saviour
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L - pours the blackest black with a little and quickly disappearing dark head.
S - very intense and complex nose with a roasty notes of whisky, wood, chocolate.
T - strong, but not very boozy taste with the same notes as the smell.
F - small carbonization, full-bodied with a great oily and turfy aftertaste.
O - great craft from Scotland, looking forward to taste a 16 y.o. version.

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

Very dark color, almost black, with just a bit of dark head. Aroma is not too intense, just some caramel and dark fruit notes, especially figs. Taste is also more faint compared to the other versions. Definitely the weakest of the Ola Dubh bunch, but still a very good, complex beer. What I enjoy most from the series is the strong fig character and the very balanced, complex taste.

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Photo of stakem
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently decided I have been holding on to this 2007 bottling for too long. Drank along side a bottle of Ola Dubh 30 from the same time period. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip. It appears black in color with a tan finger that fades to a thin ring. Some spotty lace sticks to the glass.

The nose is pete smoked with slight soy-like oxidation. Roasted and smoked chocolate blend into an overall feeling of camp fire. A very mild indication of anise and tangy raison blend out the back.

Flavors of chocolate and roast with earthen appeal and fruity raison. The smoke is mild with earthiness and coffee-like bitterness. Mild alcohol warnth in finish along with a sensation of savory umami.

This is medium in body and lightly carbonated. Nice flavor, not too smokey and displays minimal oxidation that doesnt show its age for being 8 years in the bottle. In comparison to the 30 year, this 12 had deeper layers of complexity but was showing oxidation much more than it's counterpart.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smells like pond water, taste is a bit smoky for me but after initial disappointment it did grow on me. Overall though i am surprised on the difference between this and the 16, which was excellent, this is good but not up to par with the 16. I have an 18,21 and 30 left, expecting a big improvement on the 12.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours slick black, small head, no lacing. Initially I got very little in the aroma, waiting 10 minutes released much more. Raisin and toffee are strong with a touch of dark chocolate. Bitter smokiness in the taste with coffee noticeable. A bit thin in the mouthfeel, was expecting a bit more here. Overall very nice.

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Photo of fredmugs
3.15/5  rDev -23.7%
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.

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Photo of chinchill
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
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).

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Photo of djack8617
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
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

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Photo of drmeto
4.89/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Photo of Matonika
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Gryphon69
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.87/5  rDev -6.3%
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.


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Photo of fx20736
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
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?

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of infinitebruner
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 364 ratings.