1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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.

710 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 710
Reviews: 348
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.92%
Wants: 37
Gots: 106 | 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:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 02-17-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 710 | Reviews: 348 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle pured into wide mouth glass-- bottle # 25528 sept 07

a-pitch black no light even held up to indoor lighting

s-raisin and roasted malt...big malt smell with huge whiskey up front.

t-big malt backbone just like i like my old ales...followed by the slightest bitter hops and big whiskey...love this beer....

m-thick and chewy but now quite what i expected from this brew but nothing bad at all....the slightest bit wattery for me in this style but nothing crucial

d- i could drink a couple of these at the time but more than that would ruin the experience of this beer for me..

i love barrel aged beers and this is no exception...given the smoothness of this beer it could be dangerous

Photo of gford217
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask at the Brick Store.

Pours almost completely black with a large bubbly mocha head that recedes quickly to nothing and leaves no lacing.

The aroma has lots of dark roasted malts with a well balanced bourbon and chocolate on top. The oak and vanilla finish things off in the aroma.

The taste is am amped-up version of the aroma with a huge bourbon kick up front which gives way to the backbone or dark roasted malts. More chocolate sweetness than in the aroma along with vanilla before the bourbon and oak come back with a slightly dry finish.

The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with low carbonation and goes down easy.

This is a great beer that gets even better on cask. Super smooth, well balanced and very tasty.

Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on cask at the Brick Store.

Pours almost black, instead it's very, very dark brown. Head is a thin layer of large brown bubbles that disappear quickly, leaving a thin ring around the glass and no lacing.

Smells of whiskey, with roasted malt aromas. Sweetened chocolate and vanilla aromas cycle in and out.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Big whiskey flavors hit first with roasted malt flavors that gain steam after mid-sip. Hints of vanilla stick around for the aftertaste. The alcohol is noticeable, but with the whiskey flavors I don't think it's out of place.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness, and the softened carbonation make this go down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. The beer disappeared quickly from my glass.

Overall this is a fine-tasting beverage. I tried the 30 year a while back, and while this is lighter it's no less of a beer. Definitely worth a shot.

Photo of PhillyStyle
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this stellar beer on cask at the Brick Store Pub last evening:

The beer appeared a deep, rich, dark black with a slight to non-existent dark tan head. The color looked good, but I would have liked a bit more head to it.

The smell is good, the whisky is noticeable as well as the roasted malt, which tends to sweeten the aroma slightly. Also, a slight hint of either vanilla or alcohol.

At first, the whisky and alcohol really hit hard, but as the beer sat, it really mellowed out and all the flavors came together nicely, which made it very easy to drink. Also, I got a hint of oak and coffee.

Like I said, after a bit, it was easy to put back, very smooth, probably one of the smoothest beer that I have tried to date. It had a medium body to it, which surprised me, but it was rich with little carbonation. Overall, excellent beer and I can't wait to try the older brews.

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a deep deep brown with a tannish head that disappeared after a minute or two.

S: Nose is oak, some bourbon maybe, cocoa, some leather, tobacco.

T: Taste is unique. Black liquorice, earthiness, really old wood, some subtle scotch, smoke, leather, meats

M: Nice, booze friendlt, hearty

D: Very good

Photo of mullenite
4.78/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #15639 from 09/07

Poured a viscous, oily black with absolutely no head. Completely opaque with very dark red tints when held up to the light. Very little lacing down the glass.

Smells of sweet fruits, whiskey, oak, and a slight vanilla.

Taste is mainly the same as the smell, a very slight whiskey taste and very woody. The sweet fruits hang around and balance the oakeyness. Little vanilla left in the taste but there is some there. A clean palette serves this beer best so you can really experience the complexity.

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy but not so much that its hard to drink or really filling. Medium to low carbonation possibly due to the slight aging that it has undertaken but that is not by any means a downside. This beer feels exceptional.

I put the drinkability high because it was extremely easy to drink and enjoy, I don't think anyone would be sitting and drinking six of these in a night and it definitely is not drinkable in that sense but to relax and enjoy one this beer goes down way too easy.

Photo of erz316
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

bottle #03556 from sept 2007 poured into my old speckled hen pint glass.

A - wow. looks like some kind of less viscous tar. there is some reminiscence of a head, but not in reality. though the bubbles on the top are retaining very very well, I still hesitate to call it a 'head'. it is more like 'bubble from me pouring from so high up, because I saw how damn thick it was'. any ways thats enough for the appearance.

S - there is a scent of grand roasted malts, and the nose is warmed by whiskey scents; along with some of the spice that the whiskey brings in, there is a tad of raw alcohol. the base notes of the scent are of some fruits, dark ones like fig and raisin; the scent of the alcohol is blended in at this level as well.

T - tastes musty and woody at first, not that i have every taken a big bite out of a piece of oak. raisin alcohol hits the palate next quite strongly; but as I hold it in my mouth the alcohol subsides and a sweeter fruitiness comes out. moments after the swallow the alcohol makes an attempt to burn like a cask strength whiskey but loose the battle to a light chocolate coffee taste, whose departure is as capricious as its arrival. the aftertaste is like that of a good whiskey, lingering spice and alcohol mixed with some of the malty sweetness ad a bit of bitter coffee/chocolate (?). I have truly tasted no old ale like this. the only reason it does not get a 5 is because I have not had the 16 and 30 years yet, and do not know if they mad it better.

MF&D - i can find no problems whatsoever with either of these categories. it is just the right amount of thickness for the presence of alcohol in the beer, and the lack of carbonation complements this very well.

Photo of Sigmund
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. Bottle No. 04062. ABV is 8.0%. Pitch black colour, big to moderate and creamy tan head. The whisky oak cask with peaty smoke and notes of vanilla and sherry comes through immediately in the aroma, followed by notes of roastiness (roast malts, coffee) and chocolate. The flavour has loads of rich malty sweetness, immediately followed by distinct notes of peaty smoke - it is quite amazing what impact the whisky cask has. Dark chocolate in the middle. The finish has a firm bitterness from the hops and burnt malts, while the peaty smoke lasts through the long aftertaste. A truly impressive beer, but if you don't like scotch whisky at all, this might not be the beer for you. Not easy drinking, but a great sipping beer, and a real treat for any lover of peatiness.

Photo of StoutHearted
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Incredible flavor! I was a little disappointed in a lackluster aroma, but wow - the taste pops. Smoky chocolate dominates, with a hint of spiciness, like a pepper. Full mouthfeel with a silkiness that eases down the throat. I imagine this going dynamite with a plate of ribs.

Other stats: Color, an inky black; Aroma, meh - as I earlier said. Nothing jumped out. How does this brew hide its flavor?

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 710 ratings.