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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.

661 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 661
Reviews: 341
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 11.65%
Wants: 34
Gots: 88 | 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: 661 | Reviews: 341 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Duffman
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours just like its namesake, black oil, with a thin coffee-colored head that quickly fades. Smells like a syrupy sweet. Some peat and heather honey notes from the highland park casks are present. Some caramel, coffee, and oak tones too. Focused and sharp. You can taste the highland park, which is is fine harmony with the natural flavors of the stout. Cream oaky honeyed palate. Some nuttiness and very mild smoky notes. Body is oily and grips the mouth seductively. A protracted and clean finish. A splendid collaboration with the highland park distillery oin the part of harviestoun. Though I've had the HP 12 year old before and can locate some of those falvors in this beer I wish I had some know to match them up.

Duffman, Sep 08, 2008
Photo of 3Vandoo
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An Old Ale they say, we thought it was an Imperial Stout because it was so dark and molasses.
Dark with some red hues, very shy lace, no head at all, not much to say "hey I'm here!"

Smell is deep roasted coffee, notes of alcohol with some shy maltiness.
Taste is with some acid tannic with some kind of cold coffee flavour, some saltiness with shy milky notes.

3Vandoo, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of doubleipa
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearaance: on einch, frothy, light brown head. Black. Aroma: burnt, peat, charcoal, licorice, cola, and cask wood. Heavy bitter finish and very dry finish. Nothing like I've ever had before. Can really taste the charcoal from the cask. Couldn't drink more than one of these. Would go great with a Maduro wrapped cigar.

doubleipa, Aug 29, 2008
Photo of JamesS
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a great pitch black in color with a great tan (if bit small) head, and just a little bit of lacing. It has a wonderful scent, part coffee, part whiskey, part malt, part hop, a near perfectly balanced scent that ends with a sweet note. Wonderful taste, the whiskey flavor is there, but not overly dominant like so many other such beers; it has a great slight coffee start with a wonderful dark, malty, old ale flavor, a nice sweet finish with a bit of hoppiness to tone it down. It goes down wonderfully smooth for such a bold beer. Absolutely freaking fantastic.

JamesS, Aug 27, 2008
Photo of JMBSH
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says that it was bottled September 2007 and is bottle #5613.
Pours very dark. Looks black but is really a very dark amber/ruby color. I can't see or detect any carbonation. Almost no head from a fairly hard pour. Smells lightly of whisky.
A very good flavor. Notes of molasses and dark chocolate are detected. Coats the tongue and mouth very nicely. The whisky flavor is not overpowering, it just adds a nice addition to the beer. There is a hint of the "heat" that you might find in whisky but this beer is only 8% ABV. Very good beer. Recommended.

JMBSH, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of grub
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lupe hooked me up with this one as part of the 80s BIF. thanks jason!

11.2oz bottle topped with black foil. bottle #05064, bottled sept 2007. sampled beside the other two ola dub beers july 19/08.

pours dark brown, nearly black, thick and viscous. the only sign of a head is a few big brown bubbles around the edges and a few spots of lace on the way down the glass.

aroma is good. nice whiskey and vanilla character. bit of caramel. bread. lots of biscuit.

taste is nice. light alcohol. vanilla. bit of oxidation. bread. light roast. dark chocolate. medium bitterness level. touch of caramel. bit of a letdown after the aroma.

mouthfeel is ok. a touch on the thin side. low carbonation level.

drinkability is pretty good. nicely balanced, just not that exciting overall. my least favourite of the three.

grub, Aug 07, 2008
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

so, I go from the 30 to the 12 leaving the 16 to end the series. No reason other than whim.

A - rich dark brown, black color with a nice dark tan head.
S - smokey, smoked wood, peat, sweet malts, vinous aspect
T - very strong woody peaty smokey oaky (is that enough words ending in Y for one taste sentence?) notes with underlying dark sweet malt body.
M - medium bodied, smoothly carbonated, smooth finish
D - the smokey whiskey aspects say sip and savor as it hides the 8% well. To do so however would be to miss the point on this brew.

much more character than the 30 but not as smooth or as subtle.

barleywinebrewer, Aug 06, 2008
Photo of Viggo
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled all 3; the 12, 16, and 30 one after another after a recent brewday. grub contributed the 12.

Pours an opaque black with dark brown and red highlights, medium sized thick brown head forms, looks like tar, settles to a thin ring quickly, drops a ton of lace, this stuff is dark! Smell is nice, chocolate and toffee, whiskey, oak, dark fruits, some alcohol, figs, cherries, very roasty, quite nice. Taste is charred wood, bread, toffee, chocolate, whiskey, sherry, some licorice and vanilla, but the flavour is kind of light and not as rich as I expected. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation, not as thick as I would have liked. Solid stuff though, thanks Russ!

Viggo, Jul 29, 2008
Photo of asabreed
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. My snifter has somehow disappeared, which doesn't make me happy.

Appearance: Opaque with a mocha colored head, though there's not as much lacing or head retention as I'd like. I imagine the tulip may not have been the best glass for this, but I'm now sure how that would've changed things otherwise.

Smell: A heady meld of bourbon, cream, chocolate, coffee, mild mocha, woodiness, mild dark berries, vanilla, and booze.

Taste: Beautiful blackened malt flavors come through in a way I'm not sure I've experienced before. There's a fine line here between a creaminess and a blackened flavor, letting the other flavors creep in gradually: mocha, mild coffee, honey, chocolate, welcomed coffee with a bit of sourness and acridness that I think oddly meld with some other flavors quite nicely, vanilla, woodiness, earthiness, and the finishing touch of a good whiskey, lingering amidst all the flavors on the tongue. Even in this not-even-a-year-old state, with it being bottled in September 2007, I wish I could try a sample in the years to come, as I imagine it can only get better. But yes, this is pretty amazing stuff. Nuanced, balanced, heady, and delicious, especially if you're a fan of whiskey. I'll be seeking out the 16 and 30 when I can.

Mouthfeel: Full, though it's a bit odd because the lack of carbonation actually makes the flavors come out a bit more I think. There's a burst near the end, but it's mild, and still, I think they meant it like this, to get the full sense of the whiskey rather than having it be bogged down with carbonation, and yet it still remains fairly smooth.

Drinkability: Highly highly drinkable, and if we're taking the high price tag away I give it a perfect rating. A 6-pack of this, however, would cost you... a lot. But it's quality stuff, as they say it is, and as it should be.

asabreed, Jul 25, 2008
Photo of Hojaminbag
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown to black opaque body with a nice brown head that laces my glass.

Smells of some fruits, chocolately malts, and scotch.

Tasty. Nice malt profile is joined by some fruit notes. The bourbon flavor comes through, providing a smokey flavor with a touch of booziness. Has a fairly full-bodied mouthfeel.

Drinkable beer, I had to remind myself to sip and not chug.

Hojaminbag, Jul 13, 2008
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 Goliath
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black and completely opaque with a half inch brown frothy head. Decent retention and a fine bubbley lace.

Aroma is pretty nice. Some dark fruits, plums and raisins. Dark malts, showing some chocolate and grainy tones. A little smoke in there too.

Taste is pretty nice. Dark malts, giving some chocolate and toffee. Raisins, alcohol, and a bit of smoke. Not overly complex but a few items to ponder.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, and chewy. Low carbonation, very nice.

Drinkability is moderate. Moderate alcohol limits the beer only slightly. Good flavor makes it pretty easy to consume. A sipper for sure.

Goliath, Jul 09, 2008
Photo of jdhilt
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a one finger brown head that fades slowly to a thin layer, leaving some lace. Totally black, no highlights. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Sweet whiskey nose. Flavor is sweet oak and whiskey with hints of sweet smokiness. Nice old ale. $8.95 for a 3300ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma bottled Sep 2007.

jdhilt, Jun 30, 2008
Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 12529/Sept 2007
It pours to a virtually headless ebony, as small clusters of beige bubbles grip the edges of the glass.
Scented of fudge, espresso, anise, and peat, but lacks a true and real statement from the whisky on the nose.
Tastewise, it begins with more fudgey fullness and spent coffee acridness. Notes of stewed dark fruits dot the middle. Smoke and peat are bit players, but emerge in the later portion, as the barrel aging begins to materialize, also bringing wispy dried heather, and a more definite sherried, oaken dryness. Hops are subdued, but impart a backing notion of black tea. It concludes with an ashy sour twinge that's hard to place.
Medium bodied, seeming fatter at first but thinning over the sip with a rasping dryness. It's every bit a sipper, but one that's consumed quickly as the 8% is barely recognized.

End of review, and on to my digression-filled editorial:
At the end of the day, this is generally a winner, but I must say that I'm a hair disappointed. As a big fan of Highland Park 12yo with it's balance of caramel, honey, sherry, heather, maritime elements, medicine, and smoke. As such, It's a bottle I always have on hand, especially because I find it on the very high end of the quality/price ratio in the Scotch world and easily found.
I dropped $8 on this bottle of beer (in perspective, that's 1/4 the price of the whisky...and I also bought the 16 and the 30 Special Reserves, so that's 3 bottles of beer for right about the same price as a bottle of HP12, which would last me months) and solely because of the barrels it was aged in. To be honest, the scotch whisky aged notions are pushed to fringes, and I couldn't link this taste-wise in any way to HP, even sipping on it along side the beer (though they are quite agreeable, harmonious, and tasty partners, and I recommend having a dram along with it). I just would have liked to see more direct quotations from the spirit itself in this beer. I hoping for more of this in the 16 and the 30, though I'm worried, as I tend to enjoy moderately younger Scotches more than their older brether regardless of price. As decent as it is, I won't be seaching out more of the 12.

cokes, Jun 26, 2008
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a deep tan cocoa head with some fairy tiny bubbles stuck to the glass. The head last for a few sips before it is only seen sticking to the sides of the glass.

S- This beer has a smoky almost musty whiskey note with nice peat moss, cream and maple notes giving way to a smoky finish. There are smooth dark black roasted malt aromas that come through when it warms a bit.

T- The black malt flavors have a hint of dark dried fruit and black roasted chicory. There are some smoky hints and a more full whiskey note finished by a soft green wet wood note. As the beer warms the smoky notes increased but they were never over the top.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a silky texture and a soft alcohol note that is just a tad fusel.

D- This beer has nice dark malt notes with a balance of smoky and whiskey notes that stay in their supporting roles. The flavor is not over the top and there are some nice depth to it.

rhoadsrage, Jun 11, 2008
Photo of kmo1030
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a thick dark brown with a faint whisp of a head.
in the aroma you find lots of roasted malts with chocolate, caramel, and some molasses. notes of smoked peat are present, but not especially powerful.
the flavor has more of the smoked peat action going on than the aroma. in addition to similar malt flavors to the aroma this beer has got vanilla, nuttiness, and some faint dark fruitiness, like black cherry. the taste is very smooth an evened out, with some very nice balance. a more substantial bitterness than it immediately seems to provide.
the mouthfeel is very smooth and somewhat full with soft carbonation.
the drinkability is very good for the viscosity and flavor profile. it's a mellow and well crafted scotch ale-esque old ale.

kmo1030, Jun 10, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a lacy head that settles to a ring. The aroma starts with some roasty notes that are tinged with a faint peatiness followed by some firm, dry malt. The taste is a little more aggressive than the aroma as far as the scotch notes go. Lightly peaty, woody tasting oak, very light pepper and vanilla notes, and hints of cherry and caramel. Most of these notes are picked up from the barrel than from the beer itself. There is a lingering roastiness that comes from the brew. Very smooth and even a bit light for what this is, which makes it quite easy to drink, but ot could use a tad more oomph in the body for me. I don't like this quite as much as the 16, primarily beacause of the heft and flavor complexity. I tend to find that I like the balance id middle aged scotches as well where there is more flavorr development and integration than 12 year olds and less woodiness and fade than in 30 year olds. Haven't tried the Ola Dubh 30 yet, so we'll see if that holds true there as well.

Georgiabeer, Jun 09, 2008
Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this one.

11.2 oz. Bottle
Black Tin Foil
#02712/Sep 2007

Poured into a tulip a dark black color, some carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, a few small islands, with very minimal sticky lacing. The nose is big and malty, some chocolate, toffee, and caramel, slight vanilla. The taste is malty, with some dark tones, and slight vanilla notes. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Drinkable, this is a tasty brew, never heard of it before. Thanks Bill.

Wasatch, Jun 03, 2008
Photo of kkipple
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is interesting. A single beer, released thrice? The difference being the cask they were aged in? Huh. I'm game. Over a single night several friends and I went through all three brews. Though these beers are all quite similar, there are differences, and these are what I'll be focusing on my reviews. Onward!

Appearance is the same for all three of these brews. Walnut brown with a small head that hugs the edges. No lace and very little active carbonation. Middling body, not entirely opaque.

Smell is heavy malt, dense and roasty. Smooth, until the scotch nose kicks in. It comes on strong, with a grand oaky, peaty wallop and a goodly amount of whiskey. Cocoa and roasted grain mingle, but the scotch is king here. It's a little rough and the most aggressive of the three versions. Go on, take a sip.

You find yourself on a plateau. A vast dark malty plain is laid out before you, dotted with sweet cocoa trees and peat bogs. There seem to be an overabundance of oak trees that sway in the cool smoky breeze. Small creatures comprised of caramel and alcohol roam at will, peacefully grazing on the coffee beans that lie scattered across the earthy soil. Tiny mineral deposits lie in your path, you kick them aside and breath in. You appear to have arrived on Planet Delicious.

What? Oh yeah. Mouthfeel is a little dry, lightly carbonated, and carries a long, complex malty-earth-scotch finish. Delightful and exciting.

Ola Dubh is some seriously good beer and the current king of Whiskey-aged beer for me. While all three are tasty, the 12 in a nutshell is more scotch-aggressive and punchy. A real winner.

kkipple, Jun 02, 2008
Photo of bluejacket74
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle, bottle #01326, September 2007. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with a quarter inch tan head which went away pretty quickly. Lacing is OK. It smells like dark fruit, vanilla, roasted malt, oak and a bit of Scotch whisky. However the whisky aroma isn't nearly as strong as I thought it would be. Luckily the Scotch flavor shows up more in the taste. There's also coffee, roasted malt and smoke/peat noticable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it seems a bit thin at times but it is slick and smooth. Drinkability is good, the smoothness makes it easy to drink. I think this is a pretty decent brew overall, a good sipping beer.

bluejacket74, May 31, 2008
Photo of Atron67
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just had a bottle over at brasserie V in madison, pretty damn awesome brew.

A- poured a black oil as expected from the "black oil" title of the name. roasted milk chocolate head on top where the thickness made it hard for the bubbles to build up

S- pretty damn awesome, roasted and chocolate character, really nice whiskey character to it.

T- very thick delicious stout with amazing smoothness and chocolate characters with a pretty decent scotch strong character throughout, overall just really good

M- lightly carbonation sticky thick body that lingers on the tongue forever

D- ide drink this all day

Atron67, May 31, 2008
Photo of jim102864
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours thick as motor oil into my Czechvar glass. Bottled in September of 2007. Thin, creamy skin of head. Obviously zero carbonation. Aroma registers bourbon notes and smoky moss. The taste reflects the nose; smokey; whiskey overtones and some vanilla. Mouthfeel is viscous. Not a drinkable brew IMO. Yeah, the smoky flavor is interesting, but this is just not my favorite style and thus not worth plunking down the big bucks for again.

jim102864, May 30, 2008
Photo of botham
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. the anticipation for this one has been considerable. pours thick black without highlights and a half finger of rich brown head that remains for less than a minute. light lacings.

aroma is of intense malts, mainly chocolate and black, with an earthy base from the whiskey casks. light notes of coffee and roasted malt linger amongst the other aromas, along with distant dark fruit. very rich in the nose.

taste is very rich, with chocolate and black malts up front, and a roasted coffee character, along with distant whiskey. very smooth in profile from the aging. finishes on a lightly smoked note with residual caramel and roasted malt. very complex, yet difficult to descern individual flavors because of the smoothness.

mouthfeel is excellent. the texture is silky smooth, with a mellow and easy-going finish and a slick feel after the fact. world class.

drinkability is good. for 8% APV, one would never know it. this is a superbly smooth and mellow brew that could beat out most russian imperial stouts. masterfully crafted by the folks at Harviestoun. cheers!

botham, May 30, 2008
Photo of Redwood21
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: it has a nice lace of head, nothing too long lasting but it is there long enough. the beer itself is extremely dark brown.

S: the down point, i tried so hard to smell this beer hat i almost snorted some. there is an extremely faint aroma of wood, but only barely. it does not however smell bad. I just expected more from a beer aged in scotch barrels.

T: this is one that needs to warm itself to be fully appreciated. the first touch is almost oaken sweetness but it is immediately overpowered by a peaty smoky flavor that rolls back on your tongue. it is also very woody. it tastes almost like liquid smoke was added, but a much higher level than that. I have the 12 yr old scotch whose barrels this beer is aged in. I must say i believe the scotch is better, but this beer certainly takes on the strongest aspects, nothing weak about this beer but it has a faint smoothness. it is a good beer, very complex and very layered. if you like peat smoked beer with a layer of wood...you will flip your shit for this beer


Redwood21, May 20, 2008
Photo of ATPete
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle foiled and capped

A- Pours a viscous black, no full head just beads of brown bubbles along the edges of the glass.

S- A very mature nose. Winey with definite hints of old wood, smoke, coffee, booze and some spice. Fairly balanced.

T- Very mild on the palate, lots of toasted malts with a chocolatey feel, some black pepper, other spice. The barrel really adds some nice subtle complexity to the beer, notes of vanilla, peat, and a subtle scotch sweetness.

M- Heavy feel, low carbonation, a bit sticky but not sweet.

D- Its a sipper.

I recommend to anyone who is previously intrigued by the Harviestoun line of unique beers. Entry level for the brewery OR wood aged old ales? NO

ATPete, May 16, 2008
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 661 ratings.