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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.

359 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 359
Hads: 773
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 11.62%
Wants: 42
Gots: 134 | FT: 9
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.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 359 | Hads: 773
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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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.04/5  rDev -2.2%

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!

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Photo of carlos_fleico
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%

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)

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Photo of Dentist666
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of kevinlater
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
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

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 359 ratings.