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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

677 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 677
Reviews: 341
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 11.65%
Wants: 35
Gots: 94 | FT: 6
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 02-17-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 677 | Reviews: 341 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First of the series, retrieved at State Line Liquor, and most promising. Aroma is of an imperial stout with some whiskey. Black body. Creamy mouthfeel with whiskey,chocolate, ah a drinkable pleasure rather than bourbon. A bit woody. Most satisfying, and a bit malty sweet at the end.

Sammy, Jul 10, 2008
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -2.9%

t0rin0, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -2.9%

spycow, Jan 14, 2013
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -2.9%

djrn2, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -2.9%

zestar, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -9%

acurtis, Dec 01, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours a very dark brown color with a thin head. A bit persistent with some carbonation bubbles throughout. Nose is light whisky plus some oak, vanilla, dark fruits, and smoke. A bit of roast. The taste has some whisky and peat smoke plus a bit of roast and oak. Good body and not too boozy. Drinkability is higher on this than the 30 and 40.

Thorpe429, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of Texasfan549
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Texasfan549, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of metter98
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin creamy tan head that took a very long time to fade away and left lacing down the edges of the glass.
S: There are aromas of roasted malts in the nose along with hints of whiskey from the barrel aging.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is dominated by flavors of dark roasted malts, which are a bit smoky. There are some hints of chocolate, sweetness and toffee.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and smooth on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There are some hints of warming from the alcohol.
D: Despite its strength, this beer is very easy to drink.

metter98, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

GRG1313, Apr 27, 2013
Photo of brentk56
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 10480/Sept 2007

Appearance: Even darker than Old Engine Oil as there are no ruby highlights on this one; I was able to get a tan head to rise and pancake the liquid; modest amounts of lacing

Smell: The oaky aromatics interplay with the roasty chocolate elements; generous amount of peat and some dark fruit underneath

Taste: Oak, roast and peat are all prominent up front, with the whisky flavors developing by mid-palate; dark fruit and allspice add complexity; after the swallow, the licorice taste of OEO arrives, but this time it carries a pipe tobacco element with it, as well

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; a hint of warmth from the alcohol

Drinkability: Harviestoun has taken OEO to another level with this beer; wonderful complexity

brentk56, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of BEERchitect
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A fantastic beer; bold, agressive, balanced, and showing no signs of letting up. The pour delivers a near-black appearance with complete opaqueness. An initial 1/2" head formation, reduced to a film, but held firm after that. Light on carbonation, it delivers a creamy tan foamstand. Aromas jump out with a roasted malt character, esters of plumb, grapes, and faint berries, and a hint of dirty, earthiness, and mild smoke. Firm alcohols are evident in the nose, but not obvious from Scotch barrel aging. Flavors of dry, roasted barley rests on a firm barley malt, sweet pillow. Decorated with peaty eartiness, walnuts, and dark fruits found in the nose-only muted. A complementary Scotch Whisky alcohol, oak, and smoke compounds the balace with complexity and variety. Light signs of oxidation (soy sauce) actually add to the complexity. The texture is rich, full, and viscous. The alcohols show signs of roughness that age will round out. Somewhat hot and numbing. Hop bitterness complements the roast barley and smoke nicely. Finishes malty rich and dry (coffee-like) with low sweetness. Very nice beer that will certainly improve with age. This beer begs to be paired with a robust cigar.

BEERchitect, May 11, 2008
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of goryshkewych: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a medium foamy brown head with good retention retention. Aroma of chocolate with roasted malt is easily identifiable. The roasted malt with some medium notes of chocolate and coffee also dominates taste. Nice creamy body with some good carbonation and no alcohol was discernable. I can't say that I distinguished a lot of differences form the regular version and likely would stick to that one considering the difference in prices.

Phyl21ca, May 06, 2008
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 03059/Sept 2007. Ola Dubh is Scottish for Black Oil... and that is pretty much what this brew looks like. No highlights are seen along the edges of the snifter. A barely audible escape of CO2 on crown cracking was followed by a slim slice of caramel colored foam that looks pretty good. Barrel-aged beer is rarely a head and lace stunner.

The unmistakable (and wonderful) scent of Scotch whisky is easily appreciated with a single sniff. Too bad it isn't bolder, but that would probably put off those who aren't in love with the peaty, seaweed-like tang of the world's finest spirit. The base beer could be more aggresive as well, and might get there as room temperature approaches.

Old Engine Oil is lovely stuff, so why wouldn't that beer combined with Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky be wonderful too? Answer: no reason at all because it is. It bears repeating, if you don't like Scotch, then you won't like this beer, because it's a prominent member of the flavor profile.

A relative shortage of malt for the ABV is typical of English ales, so I'm used to it by now. The brewers still managed to wring a ton of flavor out of this (obviously cellerable) old ale. Specifics include dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, black licorice, raisin paste and a few peat fire's worth of tangy smokiness. Warming succeeds in turning the intensity knob up another half turn. Don't worry about sweetness because it's at a low ebb.

My love for viscous beer will only let me cut the mouthfeel so much slack. It's too thin and doesn't have even a hint of the creamy, silky, chewy, sticky oiliness that it ought to have. Age might have taken an excessively large bite out of the body. Carbonation is on the subdued side, even for someone who likes them calm, cool and collected.

Whatever Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 12 Reserve cost, it was worth it. Unfortunately, a measly 330 ml is nothing but a tantalizing treat. Then again, I still have Special 18 Reserve and Special 30 Reserve to look forward to. Mmm mmm good!

BuckeyeNation, Oct 13, 2009
Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -2.9%

jaydoc, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%

ygtbsm94, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of mikesgroove
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Ok, so I had to go out and grab all three of these releases, cause, well the idea has really intrigued me. I had originally planned on sampling all three in one night, but decided against it as I figured I would get burned out. I went with the bottom up and took down the 12 year first. The pour was as I expected, pitch black as night with no foam, no head, no lace, no nothing. Just a dead in the water black oil looking liquid, much as the original was, no surprise here and rather uninspiring.

The aroma was different, and nowhere near as strong as I thought it would be. Hints of whisky were very light here and the only thing really coming through was the deep roasted malt aroma. There was almost a smoky quality to it as well, though very light with perhaps a touch of earthiness way in the back. The taste came off somewhat flat to me, but maybe it is just me. There is no carbonation in this one at all, which we knew going in, however it just felt a touch thin to me to be honest, the flavors were very nice, but again kinda weak as far as the profile. Lots of smoky notes were riddled throughout this one, really dominating everything overall. There was the slightest bit of a whiskey taste, but I really thought it would have been stronger. A touch of alcohol in the beginning, but as it mellowed this really went away. The finish was a bit dry and had a nice wood like barrel taste at the end. This was an easy sipper, if not a gulper as everything was quite mellow and nothing was really standing out to me and making me think.

Overall, I am not going to lie, I am disappointed in this. I would have thought the flavors would have been much more pronounced and the aging taken a nice effect on it, but it just seemed too subdued for me, really never achieving any great height or depth. I am hoping the 16-year and especially the 30-year come off much better, we shall see. I will pop one this weekend and find out.

mikesgroove, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of Knapp85
3.43/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out much like the others in the series. The beer was very dark in color with a thin tan head that faded very quickly. The smell of the beer has a lot of whiskey/scotch aromas to it along with some other roasted chocolaty aromas. The taste of the beer was pretty strong to me, I found it to be more harsh than the others in the series. The mouthfeel was with out much carbonation at all, the feel was a little on the watery side. Overall I just wasn't digging this one too much.

Knapp85, Jan 01, 2012
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a plain black body with a frothed, though quickly diminishing, off-white head.

Smell: Respectably old, aged malts with a vein of dark fruitiness and a faroff hint of whiskey.

Taste: Dark malts deliver flavors of dark caramel, chocolate, and a even a little coffee. Solid sweetness. A firm pinch of pipe tobacco. Very light earthy bitterness. Mild whiskey character lends a warming finish. There's a creaky woodiness that begins to creep into the aftertaste and flavor with each sip, so drink fast!

Mouthfeel: Just barely medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's okay. In all honesty, it started losing me as time went on. Now to get my greedy hands on that 16 year old (the beer) to continue the Ola Dubh line.

ChainGangGuy, Apr 06, 2008
Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tumbler.

Had a chance to grab some o' this stuff earlier today, so I figured I'd strike while the iron was still relatively hot. It pours a murky black-brown topped by about a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises raisins, mild peat char, light roasted malts, tobacco, light vinyl, black pepper, milk chocolate, and a touch of vanilla. Man, this stuff comes off as all-over-the-place, but in a good way. The taste holds notes of candi sugar, caramel, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, very light peat smoke, clove, figs, and light steak. The body is a limpid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a slightly swampy feel. Overall, a very nice brew, one that shows how cask-aging can really create an artistic beer.

TMoney2591, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

JAHMUR, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml black foil capped bottle. We bring the Bard of Ayrshire's birthday celebration to a close with the youngest 'old' ale, in terms of whisky cask finishing expression. Ach.

This beer pours a fairly solid black, with very slight basal cherry cola edges, and two fat fingers of foamy and creamy beige head, which renders a practically unblemished paint job of lace around the glass as it slowly fades away. Aye, but she's seeexxxxy!

It smells of strongly toasted caramel malt, mild smoked peat, molasses, sweet alcohol-soaked oak, muddled dark fleshy fruit, and subtle leafy, earthy hops. The taste is big caramel/toffee malt, musty black fruit, treacle, ethereal bittersweet chocolate, and a soft, agreeable case of island barrel-itis - iodine, brine, and seaweed, with a nicely even peaty smokiness.

The carbonation is quite tame, barely a flutter to be noticed, the body a sturdy medium-full weight, smooth and surprisingly clean. It finishes on a relatively strong drying note, equally musty, woody, hoppy and boozy.

A tasty, and balanced, Scotch barrel-influenced strong old Scottish ale (whew!). Malt, hops, wood, and alcohol, all in a symbiotic orgy of restrained fury, the kind that might engender a bursting forth of some sort. What am I talking about? I dunno, this is the fourth bottle of the evening of this stuff and its kin, so I'm done writin', and ready for something else, no offense, bard-dear.

biboergosum, Jan 26, 2011
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

in some ways I like 12 better than 16 or 18, the reason being, that it still tastes like beer. although some may say this is still more whiskey than beer, to me its the perfect balance. dark brown in color, rich for an old ale, same looks as the others with perhaps a little better head, but its been awhile and this one is on tap. the nose is great, woody and earthy and rich in malt profile, well roasted and toasted, not burnt but real dark. the whiskey isn't sharp, but mellow and clean, strong too, smells like more than 8% abv, that's for sure. the taste is great. tons of roast and body without any bitterness. the whiskey treatment is very effective, the beer has some charcoal to it, as well as vanilla and oak, but not in a sweet way, its more refined, more old school in some sense, more precise, more groovy, hard to describe. its all balanced up well, like the whiskey characteristics could be controlled independently of one another, you know, less vanilla here, more oak there, even though that's not possible, it seems that well dialed in. I prefer this to the 16 and 18 honestly, although I would still love to try the older ones, this is a genuinely great beer.

StonedTrippin, Dec 20, 2013
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep opaque charcoal tinted dried blood burgundy with a large mocha tan head sticking around a good bit after a sturdy upright pour, left behind is fine even lacing all around my chalice with each sip. Aromatics contain deep barrel aged notes with hints of ripened fruit, leather, oak, subtle anise, and mild medicinal layers. Another aspect brings mild chocolate and some burn marshmallow edges. Flavors are brash with oak aging however if you like this than that's a plus, big malty layers full of plum and vinous dried fruit notes. Mint edged chocolate with oak chips soaked in brandy really sum up the aspect that stands out here. Soothing alcohol soaked in fruit notes impresses me as well. Mouthfeel overall is viscous with complexity and a slightly hot alcohol finish carbonation overall is incredibly smooth and silky. Drinkability a complex beginning and really enjoyable UK experiment I hope to see more of this type of brew being bottled and shared around the world this is fantastic and I'm sure the 16 and 30 just get better and better time to go invest in those two this Friday.

WVbeergeek, Apr 09, 2008
Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Emerges from the bottle with a half finger of dark brown foam and an impenetrably opaque black body. The head dissipates quickly, leaving just a hint of lace on the glass.

S - Dark grain, chocolate mostly along with raisins and figs. Slight spicy character with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and some alcohol.

T - Dark roast malt and raisins up front with a moderate amount of balancing hop flavor and bitterness. Lots of vanilla and chocolate in the middle. Roast character reemerges in the finish with lots of dark, earthy notes; burnt caramel, leather, and tobacco.

M - Surprisingly moderate to thin body, with low carbonation and a a slight sweetness lingering in the finish. Noticeable alcohol warmth.

D - Easily drinkable, much more drinkable than I would have expected, in fact, probably due to its surprisingly light body. It has a wonderful Scotch whiskey character and despite a remarkable complexity, none of the flavors linger too long or become cloying.

This beer begs for a cigar. It seems like a natural match; with its dark flavor profile and relatively low sweetness it should match a good cigar nicely without becoming syrupy sweet the way some other big beers do when paired with cigars.

nickfl, Mar 19, 2008
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 677 ratings.