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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.

719 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 719
Reviews: 348
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.68%
Wants: 37
Gots: 109 | 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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Ratings: 719 | Reviews: 348 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tyjudd
1/5  rDev -75.7%

Photo of beertraveldude
1/5  rDev -75.7%

Photo of requiem960
1.06/5  rDev -74.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

It's not often that I find a beer I find to be undrinkable, but the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery managed to be one of those beers.

My bottle was received at my beer store on 3.12.2008 and is from the Sept '07 batch. It poured dark, pretty much pitch black, with no head. The appearance looked like coffee with very limited carbonation and had a smell that was bland.

Ola Dubh's taste had no whisky notes, which came as a shock and a disappointment; yet the beer reminded me more of a very bland chocolate bock-type beer. Imagine a horrible, less carbonated and watered down version of the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, and you'd be getting near the resemblance of Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12.

This beer had zero drinkability, and half of a $9.49 beer went down my drain. There was no redeeming factors to this beer and I'd highly advise steering clear of it. It's not often I find a beer I can't finish, but here it is!

Photo of AugustusRex
2/5  rDev -51.3%

Photo of Turbodog666
2/5  rDev -51.3%

Photo of 1Adam12
2.25/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a blackish brown. No head, no lacing. Smells of malt, soysauce, whiskey, and thats about it. Taste really is not that great. Soy sauce, whiskey, none of the old ale flavors that I'm used to. Mouthfeel is very thin. Overall, man, this was a major let down. I had high expectations for this, and now I wish I could get my money back. Very underwhelming, and just not very good flavors. Too much soy sauce, and little of anything else good. Once was one to many.

Photo of nicsman
2.25/5  rDev -45.3%

Photo of tewaris
2.36/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Appearance: 5/5
Aroma: 4/5
Taste: 2/5
Mouthfeel: 1/5
Drinkability: 1/5

11.2 oz 1997 Vintage (September) poured into a 25 oz snifter.

A very impressive bottle, with foil around the neck, two signatures, and a tiny booklet on the neck describing the similarity between the soul of this ale and Highland Park whisky, and describing the different expressions of Highland Park. Classy looks and presentation! I am intrigued! Pours in a clear, very dark brown stream and looks pitch black with a brown bubbly head that stays around and leaves some lacing. A good looking beer for sure. I am even more intrigued at this point, and even before I stick my nose in it, a rich malty aroma is filling the surroundings: massive on figs, rum raisins, dark to burnt caramel, chocolate, and some other things that I'd collectively call Speyside Scotch; and yes, there is soft alcohol present. The aroma is reminiscent of J.W.Lees Harvest Ale to some extent, and I am thinking to myself that I have found another gem from the British Isles.

Cautiously happy with my purchase ($9/11.2 fl oz.), I bring the snifter to my lips and my tastebuds scream WHAT THE FUCK! This can't be! This beer, keeping in mind its aroma and looks, tastes like nothing. Nada. Complex? No. Malts? No. Roast? No. Hops? No. Esters? No. Anything? I don't know. Long after I have let it warm from room temperature to slightly above room temperature, there's some roast in the finish etc. etc. This is such a big fucking letdown that I do not want to waste words. But for the sake of the review, I will: some sweetness that leads towards some astringent roast and leaves a fruit-and-nut chocolate aftertaste riding on a sweet finish.

A very thin body with low carbonation that is entirely against the hopes of strength this beer aroused. Is it a horrible beer? Perhaps not. Is it a beer worth buying and drinking? NO. For the price I paid, I could almost get a four pack of Breakfast Stout for instance, and that would be money well spent. I would rather drink Four Loko than this cloying, yet thin, late term abortion!

Photo of SoupKitchenBeerSnob
2.46/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Was curious about this one, but I thought the $8.75 price for a single was a bit high. Furthermore, the bottling date on the label was from July 2011 (this review takes place in January of 2014), but was totally assured by the salesperson that this beer was fine with a little aging (of course). Red flags aside, I bought it anyway. Eh...

I poured it in to a Chimay chalice and saw that this stuff looks like old motor oil. No problem though, I'm cool with that. Unfortunately that was last thing I was cool with concerning this beer. There was only a mild aroma and the beer tasted even less dramatic with very little carbonation. All in all this was a very bland, unremarkable beer that definitely wasn't worth the price. Cannot recommend.

Photo of SadMachine
2.5/5  rDev -39.2%

Photo of CraftFan5
2.5/5  rDev -39.2%

Photo of cowboy83
2.5/5  rDev -39.2%

Photo of flyingpig
2.56/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A strong, opaque black colour with a thumb sized, brown and foamy head that seems to hold well. It very gradually reduces in size but leaves some good lacing on the glass and eventually settles to a thin & patchy, soapy lacing.

Sweet and with touches of whisky are quite noticeable to begin with along with some peat and a burnt wood finish. There is a strong, roasted malt aroma as well and a lot of alcohol on the nose.

Very whisky like in flavour with a lot of peat and alcohol upfront. It has strong, burnt oak and very, rich dark chocolate flavour with some dark fruits. It had a few different flavours fighting to be noticed but it is the whisky taste that comes across strongest, and far to strongly for my liking sadly.

Medium bodied and with a slightly chewy feel to it. There is a massive alcohol taste and burn at the end and a lingering malt flavour. Carbonation is very low with this beer.

Complex beer but sadly not one that I enjoyed, I felt the whisky aroma was too strong for me to enjoy the beer. I found this beer a huge struggle to finish. The whisky was too strong with this one.

1001 Beers Blog:

Photo of LowDrag
2.73/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Deep swamp water dark with light brown head. The head looked almost creamy immediately after the pour but had very little retention.

Glass: I used a goblet due to the fact that I wanted to get the full aroma.

Smell: Wood-fire cooked bacon, oak, tobacco leaf and a hint of whiskey.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as the color would suggest I was very disappointed.

Taste: Reminescent of a Rochefort 10 lacking the sweet undertones. This being my first barrel aged beer I was very let down. Aftertaste lasted longer than I am used to.

Overall: Not a beer that I would ever consider again. Being that it was my first barrel aged beer this may be more because I am not fond of the genre and less because of the beer.

Photo of Arbitrator
2.73/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Bottled Sept. 2007. Split with a buddy for his housewarming.

A: Pours a nearly pitch black (with slight rubyish penetration at the edges) body in the glass. The head is a limpid half-finger of light-tan foam, but pouring very aggressively (read: up-ending it) in the second glass yields an inch of foam that retains impressively. Neither glass has much lace to speak of. The final stage for the cap is a thin collar.

S: Soy sauce (very pronounced at first, but it gets progressively subdued and blended as the beer warms), sea salt, chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, tannins, molasses, and smoke. The guy I'm sharing it with is a Scotch connoisseur, and neither of us can pick out peat or whiskey.

T: Starts off with molasses and chocolate, but gradually introduces roasted malt and coffee. Salt and strong sherry in the mid-taste, v-e-r-y slight whiskey near the finish. The finish itself is tannic and smoky, with the latter pulling through well into the aftertaste. An undercurrent of soy sauce adorns the flavor without dominating it.

What bothers me about this is that the flavors are very distinct, coming in at specific times instead of blending seamlessly. It's modular, if that is an appropriate term. Certainly not awful, but not nearly as mellow or integrated as you'd expect a several-year-old brew to be. (And, in retrospect, not as impressive as the 16.)

M: Thin-bodied, but the lack of carbonation makes it feel kind of creamy. It delivers the flavors well but ultimately feels unsatisfying.

D: We wound up being pretty unimpressed with this one. The 16, which followed after, was better.

Photo of DWolf
2.75/5  rDev -33.1%

Photo of fostachild
2.95/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

bottle date: feb2010

pours a pitch dark colour, with lots of bubbly dark tan head - decent retention.

smell had coffee, chocolate, milk, malt - was nice.

slight smoky taste. earthy, wood. was okay but not the best drinkability.

overall it was kind of interesting but perhaps not my style as i didn't find it to be overly enjoyable. glad i decided against buying some of the higher special reserves.

Photo of dipso123
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of pin
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of alcstradamus
3/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Reviewed from notes

Near black pour with a small sliver of head. Smell is thick fudge, an odd sour element, booze, and toffee.

The taste is very unique, but I must admit right away that it doesn't appeal to me at all. There is a chocolaty element that I enjoy, but beyond that almost tastes like motor oil smells. Tough to explain...not necessarily off-putting but definitely pointless and unappealing. The mouthfeel was nice and full and fairly flat, but this just wasn't drinkable for me.

Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of beernads
3/5  rDev -27%

Photo of Tilley4
3.08/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into my CCB snifter...

Bottle 22151, bottled in Sept 2007...

This thing pours absolutely dead with no head whatsoever... Very thick black appearance that coats the glass with every swirl..

Old stale malty aromas mingle with an oakiness that tries to redeem this but doesn't quite make it... This smells like a 3 year old flat ale to me... Very unremarkable.. Perhaps a little bit of raisins going on as this warms but nostly just sorta stale and cardboard-like...

Yep, I'm guessing this one lost its spark somewhere over the last 3 years.. This tastes spent.... Mouthfeel is quite a bit thinner than I was expecting as well.. Dark roasted but stale malts with a touch of whiskey and oak...

I really loved the 16 from this series and I'm hoping I just have an off bottle here but this one surely didn't match up to its older brother...disappointing..

Photo of CampusCrew
3.1/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

at jp henleys in st augustine

appearance: deep dark brown to black. no head rentention even with a rough pour

smell: smokieness, earthy, maybe peat

taste: sublte whiskey, liked the smokiness on the backend, but the dry malty backbone slowed my drinking too much. uncomfortable chalky malt.

mouthfeel: full bodied

drinkability: was a treat to try but I paid 15 for a 12oz. disppointed in that.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 719 ratings.