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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

604 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 604
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.92%

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)
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Photo of shleepy


3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought at Whole Foods in Berkeley, CA. Served from small bottle into snifters.

A: Black, with small-medium off-white head.

S: Burned prunes. I.e., smoky / roasty, carameley, and a bit fruity.

T: Oh, yeah. Definitely like drinking liquified, burned prunes... or so I imagine. There's a fairly high level of bitterness all throughout. None of the usual vanilla flavor from oak... but I think that's where the smokiness is coming from.

M: Body is on the heavy side, but not to the point of the beer being a very slow sipper.

O: Worth a try, perhaps, but not worth buying again, especially at the price point. Actually, I wouldn't buy it again at half the price. Too roasty/smoky and does not have enough complexity to redeem itself.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2012 03:41:42 | More by shleepy
Photo of heygeebee


4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger head, black n tan. Head has coarse bubbles, fades quickly.

Aromas a heady mix of chocolate, roast malts, raisin, in a complex and wonderful mix.

Taste is a smooth blend of all the above. Add in some wood dryness and caramel and toffee hints. Chocolate aromas turn to coffee taste. A little bitterness to balance.

Mouthfeel very full bodied.

Good beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2012 11:50:53 | More by heygeebee
Photo of akorsak


3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle, number 12,513 from September 2007.

A: Black oil indeed, a thick viscous stout-like ale, pitch black curiously with no head whatsoever. It's not that the ale isn't carbonated, it just doesn’t visually manifest. After a few minutes, a wispy white band appears.

S: Dark chocolatey stout aromas, coffee in tow. The Highland Park whisky adds a softer, peated aroma - oak barrel with a bit of a kick. The aroma isn't overpowering, just sweet and soothing. Wooden strength finishes the nose off - the barrel comes through nicely.

T: The whisky hasn't left too heavy a hand on the ale, allowing the old ale's stout-like flavors to come through. Chocolate and burnt malts, even more caramel, add to the malt flavor. The wood adds depth but the whisky doesn't have the gravitas of Ola Dubh 30. Instead, a soft boozy sweetness comes from the whisky, a nice pairing against the old ale. Good.

M: Dry on the finish, the barrel doesn't completely take over the ale. The pairing for flavors is nice though, a sweet nightcap.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2012 23:53:57 | More by akorsak
Photo of DoubleJ


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

It has been 4 years since I consumed a Harviestoun product, and I have not set my foot in the Ola Dubh series. Well, let's end that streak. This is bottle number 13710, with a date of September 2007. On to the beer:

It doesn't pour like thick black oil as the name would suggest, but the color certainly looks like it does. Just deep black, and a pretty contrast to the gold lettering of the Double Bastard Ale glass. No head is formed oon top, though a few spots of lace cling. The whisky component is big in this beer's aroma. Just whisky and smoked peat, and then you get some old ale character.

In the taste, the whisky to beer ratio is more balanced than the aroma, resulting in a delicious drink. But make no mistake, the whisky character still makes a great deal of the overall share. Toffee, fruit, chocolate raisins, smoke, tobacco, wood....somebody grab me a cigar! A slight whisky booziness sneaks in towards the tail end. The body is nearly full, with carbonation that is very low, but present.

With little doubt a good introduction to the Old Dubh series. Fans of scotch are sure to love this beer too.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2012 05:28:15 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of shand


4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a snifter.

It pours out a deep brown, small head. The aroma is sweet, with the scotch jumping right out at me. Dark fruits and roasted malts are hanging out underneath. The taste is very nice, with the dark fruits and roasted malts of the old ale coming through first, but an excellent whisky taste coming through at the end, with a touch of peat and smoke. Very good. The mouthfeel has a nice amount of carbonation, and the drinkability is actually quite good. A great barrel-aged beer. Recommended for the scotch fan.

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2012 02:54:30 | More by shand
Photo of Stocean1

Ontario (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a one finger rootbeer head upon a deep brown body, not much retention with some patchy lacing - nice bottle

Scent is peaty whiskey, sweet molasses and vanilla

Taste follows the nose with choclate and molasses notes - some dark fruit in there as well - perhaps figs and raisins - what is unique is the sweetness - it seems to dominate even the whiskey - reminds me of dragon stout from jamaica

Mouth is medium with some carbonation - nice amount of bitterness with some obvious sweetness - not overly dry - silky as it swirls in your mouth - the alcohol is noticeable but luckily I enjoy booze

Overall a neat brew that I really enjoyed - was not sure about the sweetness but by the end of the brew I got it

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2012 21:11:26 | More by Stocean1
Photo of flyingpig

United Kingdom (Scotland)

2.5/5  rDev -39.2%
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:

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2012 23:38:39 | More by flyingpig
Photo of goblue3509


4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown cola like color with little to no light escaping when held to the light. The beer starts with a one and a half finger off white head which recedes immediately and leaves sticky lines on the glass. The aroma is of dark chocolate and then a nice big whiskey barrell aroma. The taste has a dark chocolate and coffee taste up front which gives way to a slight dark fruit sweetness. There is then a slight vanilla flavor before the taste of whiskey takes over and finishes the beer off. The mouthfeel is mildly carbonated and sticky. Overall this is a great beer, it is an easy drink despite the high alcohol. The whiskey barrell is very pronounced in the aroma and flavor.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2012 22:44:41 | More by goblue3509
Photo of sfprint


4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

exp: Jan 2013
A: Darkest possible rootbeer, not much of a head.
S: interesting. like a porter with slightly detectable alcohol, but with coffee, and something unplaceable. Perhaps almond powder.
T: Lovely. In the porter family, but different flavors. Not so sweet chocolate, smokey but not heavy.
M: Implied graininess. Mild carboantion, more of a texture.
O: very nice beer. very tasty and not too heavy or overwhelming. nice balance.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2012 03:55:47 | More by sfprint
Photo of OSUBeerStudent

North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date August 2010, into a snifter.

A - opaque brown/black. Starts with a fairly thick tan head, which slowly dissipates to a decent-sized ring and a patch of foam in the middle. Inviting.

S - lots of molasses and dark fruit. Smokiness from the whisky blends really well with the beer notes. The aroma is still very clean, however. It actually lacks some of the strength I expect in a beer like this, which is my big complaint.

T - starts with heavy molasses and dark fruit, but not syrupy sweet at all. The peat and whisky is definitely present and binds it all together at the end. The peat adds a bit of an acrid note to the sweeter malts. Tastes like it would be quite good without the whisky aging, but the barrels add some depth for sure. Quite tasty.

M - Very nice. Reasonably carbonated and on the thinner side for the style, makes it easier to drink than a lot of the bigger examples that are definite sippers.

Overall this is a very nice old ale. The sweeter molasses and fruit is nicely balanced by the whisky barrel. It has a nice complexity from this. The barrel would be interesting if it was integrated a little more with the rest of the beer, but it's very good as-is, regardless. Good beer and worth a try, even at the very high price ($9.19 for 11.2 oz for me).

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2012 19:54:26 | More by OSUBeerStudent
Photo of Immortale25

North Carolina

4.41/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Dogfish signature snifter. Bottle date is July 2011.

A- Pours, as promised, a motor oil black color with a 1/4 inch head that hardly retains long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and tiny bubbles of surface foam. Spotty lacing.

S- Heavy, roasted malts with some vanilla and oak. Also some maple and molasses.

T- Upon first sip, you only taste a stout, very tame. But after a few more, the oak starts popping up. Has trace amounts of the following: smoke, coffee, dark chocolate and raisin. Was expecting a lot more of a medicinal taste but am pleasantly surprised by its absence.

M- Heavy viscosity, chewy. Medium-low carbonation. Spot on.

O- I'm not even a huge dark beer guy, but this is amazing. Can't wait to try the 16-year.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2012 01:50:28 | More by Immortale25
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

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

Bottled July 2011

Beer is black, though not quite jet black, with a fairly thin tan head. Decent retention.

Smell contains roasted malt, whisky, smoke, peat, wood and vanilla. The origins of the beer are no surprise!

Taste contains all of the scents from the nose. Roasted malt, smoky peat, wood... and added to it is a dark fruit flavour, raisin most prominently, though plum and apple are there too. Mildly bitter finish.

Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Pretty slick feeling. Thinner than expected for the ABV, but it works.

Overall, quite nice. Doesn't hurt that I am like Highland Park very much.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2012 02:14:48 | More by jrenihan
Photo of bottlerocket24

Alberta (Canada)

4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours near bitch black with a thin tan coloured head that dissipates quickly. Holding the glass up to a lamp, no light passes through it.

S: Smells sweet and earthy. Plenty of smokiness and peat.

T: Peaty with a nice boozy finish. Hints of vanilla and raisins but I am mainly wowed by the scotch character in this beer. Delicious, intense and with plenty of complexity.

M: Thick with moderate carbonation. Goes down smoothly.

Overall a great beer with lots of character. If you like scotch you will enjoy this.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2012 06:45:30 | More by bottlerocket24
Photo of

3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle pours pitch cola black with fizzy tan head that dies quite quickly.

Nose is peat smoke, charred oak, toasted malt. Vanilla, raisins and a little booze aswell.

On the palate theres a pronounced peated malt element, along with some toasted malt and lactic sweetness. As it warms, some raisins come through, as well as a very peculiar peppermint quality.

Medium body, a little chewy, minimal carbonation.

This is quite tasty, definitely wasn't wowed by it buy still tasty.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2012 10:25:57 | More by
Photo of Agent1

British Columbia (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pitch black. Even when held up to the light, this beer hardly allows any sources through. Very little head retention. Any head visible is an oily brown and quickly dissipates. A deep, shadowy black/ brown rings the edges of the glass.

Smell - Rich molasses. A light amount of peatiness on the nose. Smells of dark sugars, fruits and wood. Very light pepper accents with subtle spices are present as well.

Taste - Peat moss, traces of wood, salt, brown sugar, dry nuts, smoke (peat again), coffee (specifically, a dark roast), vanilla, roasted malts and dry, subtle hops. The peatiness really brings out a salty element to this beer. Very little alcohol cuts through, making this blackened ale a pleasant surprise to the taste.

Mouthfeel - Leaves the tongue buzzing afterwards. This manages to stimulate all parts of the mouth, but especially the front of the mouth (near the tip of the tongue). Almost buzzes or fizzes after swallowing or when left to sit on the palate for a while (not in a carbonated way).

Overall - This dark, brooding mixture borrows characteristics from a scotch (or scotch whiskey) more than it does a whiskey. I think any scotch connoisseur will tell you this (I used to be quite nerdy about scotch before I discovered beer). This is the peat, first and foremost. This is what blends with the beer to give it that dark woody, smokey flavor. At only 8%, there is not a lot to hide here in terms of alcohol (in comparison to beers like the Abt 12 or the Cuvée van de Keizer Blue). But regardless, this is a reasonably smooth ale. A wonderful change. A wonderful experience. Now I need to run out and try other vintage years!

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2012 06:46:31 | More by Agent1
Photo of AnIrishCroi


3.45/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown coffee color with one half finger thin medium brown head. Head had mild retention with no lacing. No visible carbonation or haze.

S: Whiskey presence really noticed here, complimented by dry wood finish.

T: Whiskey presence unexpectedly absent here. Roasted. No distinctive flavors, alcohol well masked.

M: Almost drank like a smooth whiskey which its thin nature. I've had other cask aged beers (New Holland Brewing Co. "Dragon's Milk" comes to mind) that have been full bodied and almost chewable. This was incredibly thin and dry.

O: Not as full flavored and robust as I was expecting. The 12 Reserve lead me to believe it was aged for 12 months but I do not believe that is the case. It was aged in barrels used to make 12 year single malt scotch whiskey, but does not say for how long. It still manages to pick up the aroma of whiskey, but misses the flavor.
**I should note this beer was served cold, perhaps with the chance to raise to an appropriate temperature, the flavor would have been more present.**

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2012 05:08:42 | More by AnIrishCroi
Photo of russwbeck


3.33/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: 23296
Date: July 2009

A: Brown pour that isn't quite as thick as I was expecting. About a finger of light brown head rests on top, and lasts for a little while before receding into nothing.

S: It has a really nice smell. Roasty, whisky, complex and deep.

T: The taste really falls off. Perhaps this shouldn't have been purchased aged. It's thin, with a decent amount of roastiness, but no whiskey. Sort of a weird aftertaste.

MF: Too thin, under-carbonated. Very dry finish.

O: I thought it was pretty drinkable, but not all that good. Thought this would be way better. Hopefully that isn't true of the others in the series.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2012 04:29:15 | More by russwbeck
Photo of CrazyDavros


3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours black with a large, light tan head.
Nose shows smoky peat, burnt caramel, figs and nuttty notes. The smoky character seems to a have a burnt rubber note to it though.
Lots more smoky peat as part of the flavours however the caramel is more pronounced making for a more balanced mix of characters. Some booze is noticeable in the soft whisky notes alongside cola.
Could do with more carbonation, very low at the moment.
A bit too smoky with not enough malt to balance it out.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2012 23:31:43 | More by CrazyDavros
Photo of Knapp85


3.43/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2012 00:17:00 | More by Knapp85
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2011 15:36:22 | More by LowDrag
Photo of Converge

Alberta (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a 16oz tulip. Bottle no. 01533, bottled in February 2011.

A - Over two fingers of thick, dark tan head. Pitch black. The head dies down to ring eventually, and leaves spots of lacing here and there. Near the end the beer shows its true color, which is a deep, dark mahogany hue.

S - Smokey. Lots of peat, oak, and some dark fruits. Prunes, raisins, and a light hop presence. Not quite at burnt as one might expect.

T - Strong smokey character as expected. A generous helping of peat, but not as much as the reserve 30. Woody, lots of oak, and a bit of dark fruitiness as well. Light bitterness in the finish, with a combination of roasted malt and hoppiness. Prunes are also present, with a bit of other flavors I can't quite pick out individually. Overall, this is good.

M - Big body with low carbonation. Works well with the flavor and style.

D - As already stated, not quite as good as the Reserve 30, but a great beer that was thoroughly enjoyable. Looking forward to the Reserve 16.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2011 21:51:04 | More by Converge
Photo of andrenaline

Ontario (Canada)

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

A - Pours pitch black with a mahogany hue on the edges, finger of dark mocha head, solid retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Dark chocolate and cherries, hint of oak and peat smokiness with the abv sweetness coming through nicely on the finish.

T - A rich brew indeed, roasted chocolate and nuttiness, oak and peat notes linger on the palette, some leafy bitterness also coming through with a hint of tobacco.

M - Low carbonation makes for a syropy brew, but suitable and on par with the rest of the Ola Dubh offerings I've tried.

O - A rich and bold brew, loaded with flavour. Certainly a after-dinner drink, and though a tad pricey it is well worth it. You will not be disappointed.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2011 03:21:53 | More by andrenaline
Photo of jbonapar

Ontario (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with a thin hear, minimal lacing.

Smell is of oak and whisky barrels. very interesting.

Taste: Malty, roasted malts with a strong Whiskey barrel and oaky undertone. We drank this at cellar temperature and as others have mentioned, this REALLY brings out the wood and whiskey. Interesting for sure. Almost no strong hop flavor untill the end. Very very long lasting lingering oak flavor.

Overall a very unique brew and one that is certainly enjoyed on a cold winter night.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2011 00:27:21 | More by jbonapar
Photo of hopsolutely

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have only been saving this bottle since 2010, but it is a fascinating non-pint. Aromas and flavours have transformed 100% from fridge-cold as it has transitioned to the appropriate temperature. I realize that's a known fact, but anyone who doesn't enjoy oak tannins or whiskey flavours should drink this beer cooler than those that do!

A viscous pour of inky black that doesn't yield a lot of head. Mouthfeel is silky without being too coating or cloying. A decent carbonation and alcohol burn at the finish.

Aroma is heavy on "barrel", while I get more whisky in the taste than the scent. There's a lot going on in the aroma - oak, wet wood (?), even a touch of marmite (?!) - things I'll never be able to describe! The taste is better balanced with an initial oak dryness followed by a caramelized malt sweetness and ending with a lingering whisky finish. Very distinct.

A very different beer, and worth the premium price to try. That being said, I'm glad I don’t own a case of it.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2011 03:05:02 | More by hopsolutely
Photo of maxk


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

Poured from a bottle stamped "Bottled July 2011" into a snifter style glass. Consumed lightly chilled.

A: Very dark brown, bordering on black. Light only gets through the beer around the edges. There is a nice looking one finger, mocha colored head with loose, tiny bubbles.

S: Raisin, coffee and a smoky, burnt wood smell. The burnt wood is undoubtedly the whisky casks and is actually very complimentary to the coffee aroma. The raisin-y sweetness serves as a nice backdrop.

T: Very interesting flavors in this one. I get whisky and roasted malt initially. The whisky is a relatively prominent flavor, bringing out smoke and peat with a tiny bit of whisky astringency. It goes very nicely with a bit of the malt sourness which is noticeable. Coffee is very subtle here, along with a bit of sweetness which ties all of the flavors together.

M: Creamy and rich mouthfeel, somewhat like what a good stout or porter should be. Well carbonated, which adds to the creaminess.

Overall, this is a very nice beer. I would drink it in place of a stout at times. Right now as I drink it, I notice it has some of the warming qualities in my chest that I get with whisky. It makes a great brew for enjoying on a cold, winter day.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2011 17:02:56 | More by maxk
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 604 ratings.