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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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 719 | Reviews: 348 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of coldmeat23
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
BOTTLE # & DATE: 09696/SEPT. 2007

As expected, this pours as black as pitch. About a fingers worth of loose, light brown, foam makes the head. It recedes to a thin filmy covering, after a minute or two. The lacing is in thin strands and quite sticky. It leaves a thin oily coating down the side of the glass.

This is a rather mild nose, but it is filled with notes of peat smoke and roasted maltiness. Dark chocolate covered caramels and a hint of dark roasted coffee. Mild presence of dark fruits.

Big flavor of dark roasted malts. Nice warming effect, not unlike a good single malt whiskey. Mellow notes of peat smoke. A light kiss of bitter chocolate near the finish. Fresh ground espresso beans. Very mild hint of vanilla sweetness. Light notes of dark cherries.

Nicely full-bodied, yet not quite thick, which was expected. Nicely carbonated in a very mild fashion. Very smooth with just a touch of creaminess.

The 8.0%abv is nowhere to be found, other than the slight warmth. The taste of this is great and I'd love to have a huge stockpile of them, so I could drink it often.

Photo of Pencible
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage. This poured a nearly opaque dark mahogany with a bit of tan head. It smelled like a blend of malts including chocolate and caramel and honey wheat and roasted coffee, with a bit of alcohol. It tasted like a blend of roasted barley and burnt coffee and molasses, with a strong oak and peat finish. It was slightly thick with a bit of carbonation, and had a lasting oaky aftertaste. Overall this was very tasty and complex and rich. It had a subtle flavor and smooth body. It had a bit of alcohol noticeable, but it was still fairly easy to drink. This was a wonderful sipping beer, and is best if you enjoy oak and peat flavors. I've never tried this fresh, but it's holding up quite well after a couple years, and could withstand a fair amount of more cellar time.

Photo of John_M
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

At Max's during the recent obscure and rare beer fest.

The beer pours a very darkish brown color with fair at best head retention and lacing. There is a nice sweet, peaty, smokey nose to this beer, although it's still fairly light in comparison to it's older siblings. Still, this beer has plenty of sweet malt, chocolate, peat, and sweet butterscotch. Mouthfeel is rich, full, long and creamy. Drinkability is quite good, wit the alcohol well disguised.

A fine beer that is so much better on tap then out of the bottle. Excellent stuff.

Having an opportunity to taste this beer side by side with the 18, 30 and 40 Ola dubh's, one thing that struck me is how much the flavor profile with these beers changes and improves as it sits in the glass and warms. Granted, this beer pales in comparison to the 30 and 40, but nevertheless, even at this level, this is a superb beer.

Photo of HopHead84
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black into my snifter. The head is small and fizzy and tan. It quickly fades.

The aroma is of whiskey, smoke, tobacco, molasses, and dark fruits. The whiskey adds a nice touch to the beer. The alcohol is well hidden. Notes of dark chocolate are evident.

The flavor is boozy with Scotch whisky character. The malt is somewhat roasted, with chocolate, tobacco, peat, oak, and a nice mellow smokiness. Sweetness is at a low level and the finish is dry with a warming alcohol effect.

The beer is medium full bodied with a low level of carbonation. The mouthfeel is a bit thin for my taste.

Photo of jdubjacket
3.67/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Split a 12 oz bottle of this last night with my dad. Pours a flat black colorwith little head. The beer coats the glass. Smell is very complex- sugar, dark fruits, alcohol etc. Taste doesn't live up to the smell. Seems like it was aged a little too long. The beer notes became subdued to the whiskey notes. Flat mouthfeel, but it's cask-aged, so that's not unexpected. Can't drink more than one of these. It's a sipper. Overall, a decent beer - not sure it's worth the price tag though.

Photo of drpimento
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this at Sam's in Chicago last week. Poured with a tan head and some lace. Has very pleasing color highlights. Looking straight through it's about opaque. Nice roasty, whiskey, malt, chocolate, ripe dark fruit nose. Flavor's the same but much more full. Really pick up the whisky and a bit of oak. Little sweet on tongue sides and tip. Great body and carbonation. Boozy. Nice long rich finish. No way a session, but fabulous nonetheless. Great for after dinner or on a dreary day.

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

Poured this brew into a pint glass.

Beer pours a dark brew with a dark tan head that fades - has some sticky lacing.

The brew smells of toffee, roasted malts chicory maybe even.

This brew tastes of roasted malts, nutty flavors - some evident alcohol presence.

The brew is drinkable for a session but has a presence of alcohol in the taste. It is good but has a medicinal flavor almost. Decent brew - nothing great. One or two to sip not to drink a bunch all night.

Photo of ujsplace
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a pub glass. Opaque in color, black with a tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Not much lacing to speak of in the glass.

S: Chicory makes its presence known immediately, followed by roasted malts and some alcohol.

T: Sort of starts off reminiscent of the chicory stout from Dogfish Head, but finishes with a dry crisp finish that has some alcohol presence.

M: Heavy, thick, almost chewy on tongue. Some carbonation, but not too much...pretty smooth overall.

D: High alcohol prevents sitting down with a case and really getting into this, but if you have the time and are inlined to do so, this is something I could get into very easily on a long weekend. Good stuff overall, a very nice change from the average beer, which this is not...makes me glad that there are brews such as this out there...

Photo of KarlHungus
3.47/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

This beer pours a dark brown color. There is no head. The aroma is molasses, brown sugar, peat, sea air. The taste is slightly sweet with the malt being taken over by the scotch. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side with dead carbonation, and a slippery feel. This is one of the most off putting mouthfeel I have experienced. Overall, this beer is alright, but the mouthfeel is going to keep me away from it.

Photo of david131
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- An extremely thick, black liquid with some light coming through on the edges. The head is splotchy and brown that requires a hard pour to get any out of it. A quick swirl brings some more out of it.

S- Very port like with some dark fruits, soy sauce, some vegetables... almost a bit of SA Triple Bock... Very aromatic and smooth, but it does smell like serious business.

T- Smoky, sweet dark fruit, some soy sauce, oak, vanilla, and a bit of nuttiness. Not nearly as old tasting as the aroma would lead you to believe.

M- Very smooth with just the right amount of carbonation.

D- A huge sipper. This drinks a lot heavier than most 8% beers, but it is rather enjoyable. Very tasty.

Photo of tai4ji2x
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

day two at NERAX 2009

nearly opaque black, brownish ruby under the light. bubbly tan head fades, leaving behind thin, creamy wisps. minimal lacing.

aroma: coffee, cocoa and vanilla right upfront on the nose. oaky vanilla. only a touch of whisky. hint of leather. trace of gentle phenols into the finish, with fruity, dark dried fruit esters.

taste: malty roasts with touch of chocolate and hint of coffee. peaty whisky notes blend with gentle acidity, leather and oak notes, into phenols and fruity raisins and dates. finishes with more cocoa/coffee. earthy hop balances everything, with moderate bitterness. another hint of leather towards the end.

light to medium body, almost viscous like light syrup. quite smooth, with touch of texture near the end. great, mild carbonation is just enough to help bring a creamy feel.

you can't drink this all night however...

Photo of KeefD
3.34/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown, almost black color, with zero head and zero lacing. Looks flat and fairly unappealing. Sharp alcoholic aroma, a touch of chocolate and dark fruits, dry yeast, and the typical British Old Ale maltiness. Nice dark chocolate flavor, molasses, caramel, dark fruits, a hint of wood and smokiness, maybe just the lightest touch of whisky, and a bit of oxidation. This beer is completely flat. I know some people like their old ales to be this way, but it's just not doing it for me. Carbonation is needed for every beer, regardless of the style IMO. Not bad tasting, but need some bubbles.

Photo of csmiley
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours very close to black in color. Just a sliver of cola brown shows up around the edges of the glass. Head is very minimal. It is beige and only tops out at the equivalent of a thick cap. It sticks around for a minute or two before receding to some spotty foam areas that come and go. Lacing looks to be just above average.

S - Pretty malty in the aroma. Some fig and granola tend to break out in front of the pack. A smoother aroma like vanilla shows up quick as well. Dried cherries and a little warm alcohol are midway through. The very end has a hint of smoke and wood.

T - Vanilla and sherry are quick to the forefront of this beer. Alcohol is strong and warm but doesn't really get in the way. It's more of a compliment to the other flavors, in it's own way. Dark fruit notes and wood come in about midway. Getting cherry, fig, and raisin. Whiskey flavors really come into their own at the very end of the flavor.

M - Lighter in body than expected. Carbonation is on the light side as well. Finish is warm given the whiskey that comes through the end of the flavor. Very creamy.

D - Drinkability is good. Alcohol is not hidden too well but that is pretty much what I expected from this one. It's warm but still quite pleasant. Flavor is fairly complex and it has a very smooth fool. I could easily see myself sipping on a bottle of this for the duration of an evening. Harviestoun did a good job with this beer.

Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml bottle into 8oz snifter. 18412. September 2007.

Pitch black with a light tan thin head that ends up as a thin rim along the glass, with patches of bubbles.

Creamy aromas, along with vanilla and a bit of walnut shell (standard in aged beers). The dark malts give way to a bit of burnt aromas, dark fruit, and a bit of coffee.

A good amount of molasses up front, along with some more of the dark roasty bitterness from the malts. More of the walnut shell in the background. Full bodied with low carbonation.

An interesting beer, somewhat complex. Recommended.

Photo of taez555
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from Notes. Tasted 2/8/09

This beer poured a pitch black body with a small mocha tan head.

Nose is very complex with dark, rich and chocolaty. Touches of maple syrup, wood, peat moss and scotch whiskey.

Taste is thick and very rich. Dark espresso and dark chocolate malts and are almost immediately overpowered by this strong peat moss scotch whiskey flavor. There's a slight mustiness to it. There's a strong bitterness but it balances well against the malt. Ends with a lingering single malt scotch aftertaste.

Scotch aged imperial stout. What a unique beer. The scotch flavor is just slightly, just barely, and bit more than the malt backbone. It gives it a nice contrast however. Seriously though, it tastes like a black and made of scotch whiskey and an imperial stout. Crazy cool beer.

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

Bottle 18154 Sept 2007 - Pure black pour and soild in the glass with nary a highlight to it. No real head presented itself while pouring. Just a few bubbles emerged around the edge. The whisperingest thin lines the edge. Tiny dots of oily lace move about when sipped or swirled.

Aroma is mild yet seepingly complex with a port-like aroma with a deep seeded dark sweetness of pruney figgyness, raisin, chocolate, burntness of roast, and a tinge of bourbon-esque heat.

Taste is quietly complex and super softly smooth and creamy with a simple tone of dark and deep malty sweetness that softens around some raisin, fig, and prune playing with a lofty approach among a burntish hue of rounded chocolate. Slight piney hop oil and bourbon warmth tip toe into the finish while a favorable tone of heavier chocolate returns across the back and lasts with a creamy warm bourbon softness and subtlety. One complex and softly alluring Old Ale.

Body is about medium; creamy, soft, and subtle malten feel and lift to it. It takes about half the glass before it really takes hold and makes an impression. But from there the complexity in flavor really far reaches its body. The simple smoothness is quite nice. Soft, smooth, subtle, and creamy. If it were thickened up some with a heftier, chewier body this would be killer awesome.

A solid Old Ale done in a very subtle fashion with its oak aged attributes and smoothed over softness. Looking forward to trying the older versions of this one!

Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  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

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

330ml bottle bought from GapWines... 2007 vintage..

Poured pretty much pitch black. Dirty mocha head poured small but thick and foamy then faded quite quickly to the faintest covering with a thick ring around the edge... light patches of lacing...

Aroma - Deep roasted chocolate maltinesss, toffee and treacle sweetness, nice light peaty smokiness, muscovado sugar, charred wood, quite earthy, dark fruits (raisins, dates and figs), fruit loaf, light vanilla traces, peppery, no real hint of the alcohol...

Taste - Quite a lot of roasted chocolate malt backed with light vanilla and oak, peaty / charred wood smoke, coffee, some molasses sweetness, spicy nutmeg, sooty and earthy, booze is just noticeable, dried dark fruits (prunes to the fore), faint anise...

Feel - Pretty rich and smooth although as with Old Engine Oil nowhere near as rich as you would expect... medium / full bodied... pretty drinkable for an 8% brew..

Overall - A very good example of a barrel aging... could maybe do with a few more months just to mellow things a little but definitely recommended...

Photo of sacullen
3.32/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle 6067 from September, 2007.

A: Pours black with almost no head and no lacing whatsoever, even with an aggressive pour.

S: Smells like a stout with hints of vanilla, dark fruits, and whisky. I was hoping for a little more whisky aroma.

T: Wait, where is the whisky? I was very underwhelmed with the taste of this one. It almost turns me off from picking up the 16- and 30-year old versions. OK, fine, I know I will try them some day. However, I was very unpleasantly surprised to find very little whisky taste with this one. Don't get me wrong - it didn't taste *bad*; I was just expecting a nice boozy flavor from it. I kept in mind the age of the bottle when giving it a score, though, knowing how these types of brews change over time. My benchmark is GI BCS (because it's my own personal favorite) and even the freshest examples of it have changed dramatically over the past 6 months.

M: Surprisingly light, compared with the color. One would almost expect it to coat your mouth and stick around for a long time. however, I found it to be a bit on the thin side

D: Hard to imagine having more than one of these at a time. While I have had the opportunity to sample more brews of these types, this is far from my favorite. That said, I would still love to try one of these fresh. I expect my opinion to be very different.

Photo of morimech
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle No. 17090/Sept 2007

Pours dark black with virtually zero head. Bits of spotty lacing during consumption. A lot is going on in the aroma and taste. I smell vanilla, roasted malt, whisky, and a touch of alcohol. The flavor is very complex. Roasted malt is complemented by vanilla, earthy with peat and smoke, a touch of whisky, and a whisp of alcohol. The body is a little thin. Carbonation is low but just enough to lift the body. This is a very complex ale. Not overwhelming with whisky and alcohol which I like. Very smooth. The expensive price will limit the amount I purchase and enjoy.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.42/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown with only a slight head. You can still find the underlying Old Engine Oil that is not lost due to the barrel aging. Some of the integrity and characters that I like about the Old Engine Oil are lost. It is a thinner, less creamy version. There is a nice peat flavor that you would find in a nice scotch that saves this beer. Decent.

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.37/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours black with dark brown highlights and a thin, fleeting brown head.

S - The aroma is more akin to a stout, with just a hint of vanilla.

T - This one is working on two different levels here, there seems to be the stouty base, faint coffee and dark chocolate, wrapped in a vanilla scotch blanket.

M - Medium bodied, slick, viscous, a bit creamy, low carbonation.

Notes - Really fantastic. I can't wait to try the other versions of Ola Dubh.

Photo of farrago
4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black with close to zero head, so no lacing either, thin band of brunt orange around the outer rims. Very aggressive nose of burnt driftwood, metal flakes, rust, sea salts, at times close to dried beef, if you can adjust and fight back you'll find chocolate and fried vanilla ice cream, plums and raisins. Medium-bodied, as in the nose the flavors have such life that you may at first think it's heavier. However, it moves easily and without excessive grip on the tongue. Not smoky, smoked as in wood smoked, fireplace embers and slow cooked until every pore says "smoke." Almost too bitter at times, the alcohol does come through, can you cut beer with spring water? The vanilla and coconut pair with coffee roast, caramel, sweet and edgy at once. The peat, moss, lichen earthiness there, particularly at the end. Whole cloves and notes of smoked ham. Given the absence of a head the carbonation percolates steadily. The retronasal fumes keep coming and coming. More complexity when warmer, more perceptible alcohol too, you choose which you prefer.

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

Bottle from Dilly Deli shared by Peanut.

Poured black color with full brown frothy head that diminished slowly with good lacing. Heavy aroma of caramel, nuts, woody and toasted malt. Medium to full body with sticky texture. Medium to heavy dark woody bittersweet flavor with a medium to heavy bittersweet whiskey finish of moderate duration.

My expectations were met with a smooth complex brew.

Photo of Hautacam
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black, thick with no head and barely a collar.
Smells of molasses, leather, dried fruits and alcohol.
The taste is amazingly complex, especially with a little warm up. Flavors of tobacco, tar, campfire smoke, licorice, prunes, scotch , wood and chalk with a sweetness and sourness. The finish is bitter and dry. The smoke gets more intense as it warms more.
The body is medium....a little disappointing...I wanted it to be really dense, but it wasn't...low carbonation.
I really did enjoy this as a slow sipper after dinner beer.

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