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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

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728 Ratings
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Ratings: 728
Reviews: 351
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.68%
Wants: 37
Gots: 113 | 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 728 | Reviews: 351
Photo of PartyBear
4.39/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black in colour, with a creamy head, tan in colour. Light carbonation.

Aroma: Incredibly aromatic, rich bitter chocolate, fresh roasted coffee beans, smoked oak chips, burnt caramel, woody.

Taste: Heavy roasted malts up front, with clears flavours of dark bitter chocolate and espresso. There is a smokey whiskey taste that emerges towards and becomes prominent in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Full and heavy as with original base beer. It is smooth and silky, with a velvety feel.

Drinkability: I'm a big a fan of Old Engine Oil, and the barrel aging has lost none of chocolately coffee flavours, and has added an incredibly smokey whiskey taste at the finish. Can't wait to try the older aged beers.

Photo of smuttanator
3.37/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love the base beer for this, but the barrel aging really hasn't done it any favors. While the drinkability of this beer is impressive the rest is a mess. The hops really don't meld well with the whisky, and the thin body doesn't help matters. I'd still drink it again, but wouldn't pay for it.

Photo of RedBrewer83
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Chimay goblet, bottle date of September 2007.

A: Pours a rich black roasted chocolate with very little head that quickly recedes into a thin foam and eventually a simple ring around the edge of the glass. Surprised that there isn't more head on this beer.

S: Massive aroma on this beer, very complex and heavy. Starts with a big whiskey aroma right upfront that gives way to roasted malt and dark chocolate. Dark fruits and sweet caramel come through in the middle with a sharp molasses aroma on the finish.

T: I don't even know where to begin with this one, the flavor is massively huge, complex and long. Dark fruit starts the show with sweet raisiny figs that lead quickly into sweet caramel malt, definitely roasted malts. A little bittersweet chocolate in the mid palate that is rounded out with brown sugar and molasses. At this point the whiskey kicks in and comes on pretty strong in the finish and is very well balanced by the barrel aging as the woodiness smooths out the booziness of this beer and keeps it balanced. Fantastic flavor.

M: As close to perfect as it can get. Smooth and perfectly carbonated, just enough tingle on the tongue to wake up the tastebuds. I'm surprised its not a heavier mouthfeel, but I like that it is only medium body and not much heavier.

D: For 8% you don't taste it at all and it goes down very smooth. The whiskey kicks in on the finish and brings a little intensity that makes you slow down and enjoy it, but not too much that it is a chore to get through. This beer is fantastic and I will be revisiting and laying future Ola Dubh's down to age for awhile longer. Highly recommend!

Photo of drtth
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. Bottled in September 2007.

Appearance: The beer pours out looking like the black oil after which it is named. The 1/8th inch brown head quickly recedes to a ring around the glass and a cap over about 2/3rds of the surface. Sipping leaves some bits of lacing but in some places it looks more like a spider's web than lace. What lacing develops is quite slender and leggy. While the ring persists for quite a while, later sipping leaves minimal lacing.

Smell: As the bottle is opened, the first part of the aroma to greet the nose is a whiff of the Highland Park from the barrel aging. Once the beer is in the glass the aroma opens up and becomes more complex with rich dark chocolate and some molasses character dominant. There is also a peatiness here that is very light and pleasant as the whisky aroma remains quietly in the background.

Taste: The flavor is remarkably complex on this beer. There is the dark chocolate with a trace of coffee from the roasted malt that begins and then immediately gives way to some molasses like sweetness and some subtle dark fruity flavors from the malt. The sweetness of the whisky once contained in the barrel shows up as well and there are traces of vanilla and a bit of woodiness from the oak along with a faint hint of earthy peat.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium-bodied and smooth, but with very faint carbonation noticeable as only a faint tickle on the tongue. The finish is very long and starts with sweetness from the malt and the whisky then turns briefly darkly bitter from the roasted malt. This roasted bitterness then fades away leaving some dry earthiness and astringency that seems to go on forever.

Drinkability: Although this is a one a night beer, I'll be more than happy to have it again. This is a wonderfully balanced and smooth blending of the beer with traces of one of my very favorite malt whiskies. Now that I've tasted the beer, using a perfectly good whisky barrel to age this beer seems just the right thing to do. If you like single malt whisky and also like beer this one is a "must try."

16 July, 2014

Revisting this beer in the form of one bottled in Feb 2010. While I don't have any clear sensory memory of what I described in my original review, when I compare what I wrote with what I'm tasting now things seem much the same except that the aromas and flavors are much better integrated with each other in such a way that the whisky doesn't stand out at all, but it is clearly part of the overall package. Looking at the scores I assigned I think it would definitely score higher this evening than the bottle I reviewed in 2009.

10 Jan., 2015

My last bottle from the Feb 2010 bottling. The beer has held up very well to being aged at cellar temps, but I think I'm picking up just a few hits of oxidation that suggest longer aging is not a good idea.

Photo of ImusBeer
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a tulip glass very dark black with a tan head but very minimal. Not much in the lacing department either.

The smell consisted of mostly coffee and hickory smoke. A very strong taste of roasted grains and coffee. It was very heavy on the tongue with a little bitterness at the finish.

It's the kind of beer a lager lover would HATE. Therefore, I love it!

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

Black abyss with cinnamon head on top. Sweet, roasty aroma of chocolate, alcohol, and smoke. Chocolate, roast, smoked ham, smoked onions, and sticky sugars. Medium-heavy body with distinct characteristics that suggest English origins but the beer screams for difference. A beautiful dark concoction.

Photo of rye726
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours near black with a silky brown head and some light lacing. Nose has a peaty scotch presence up front followed by roasty malts, oak, cocoa and fruity alcohol. Taste also has a smokey scotch presence along with dark malts, ripe fruits, chocolate, molasses and wood. Medium to full body is nicely carbonated. Wasn't sure I liked the whiskey presence at first, but this one really grew on me as it warmed.

Photo of Brad007
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch-black color with a thin one-finger brown head into my fluted glass.

Aroma is full of roasted malt and cream along with a bit of chocolate. Not roasted enough to be a stout but just far enough out of the boundaries of an old ale.

Taste is full of roasted malt with a strong whiskey flavor in the middle that still leaves enough chocolate flavor towards the end. Whiskey is the dominant flavor here.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering cream, roasted malt and whiskey, which again, dominates the mouthfeel. A bit mellow here but not much change.

Needs a bit more aging. Regardless, drinkable if you can get past the whiskey taste. Complex and still drinkable enough in this stage.

Photo of zplug123
3.86/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle

A: Oily black, cask carbonation with small ring of head. No light shines though

S: I'm confused at the aroma of either roasted malt/caramel...or something akin to soy sauce. Either way sweetness at the end is also evident

T: Mellow smoky taste, definitely has the notes of good scotch whiskey. Coffee, dark chocolate come to mind through the sweet malt finish

M: Sticks to the tongue, heavy bodied with almost no carbonation. Very creamy as well

D: A dark and complex beer, definitely one to enjoy in sips and appreciate

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!

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 728 ratings.