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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.

651 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 651
Reviews: 340
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.92%
Wants: 31
Gots: 81 | FT: 5
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: 651 | Reviews: 340 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.7%

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 +1.7%

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 +6.6%

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 -2.7%

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 +9.5%

(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 +1%

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 09, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%

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 -2.7%

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 +7.1%

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 -5.1%

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 +8.3%

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 -24.6%

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 +15.6%

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 +0.5%

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 -3.2%

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
Photo of Br0
3.3/5  rDev -19.7%

Appearance: It pours a coffee black, as I would have expected for a beer this dark and aged as long as this one in casks of such a nature.

Smell: Coffee, notes of whiskey, and oak, nothing spectactular.

Taste: remarkably smooth, with nothing exemplary or outstanding. Subtle hints of coffee, whiskey, oak and a light burn of ethanol, but nothing major. There is also a slight twinge of smoke flavor, but again, nothing overpowering or powerful. I feel a touch more of hops to bring a bit more extreme character to the flavor would have helped. however, I am a definite hophead, and take it as you will.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability: amazingly mooth. Must have something to do with the aging in the casks, because this beer is ridiculously smooth. The 8% is merely a light warmth and the caramel, coffee, charcoal, and smoke are not overpowering in the LEAST. Id definitely reccommend this to anyone, at least for one glass.

Br0, May 15, 2008
Photo of BEERchitect
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%

A fantastic beer; bold, agressive, balanced, and showing no signs of letting up. The pour delivers a near-black appearance with complete opaqueness. An initial 1/2" head formation, reduced to a film, but held firm after that. Light on carbonation, it delivers a creamy tan foamstand. Aromas jump out with a roasted malt character, esters of plumb, grapes, and faint berries, and a hint of dirty, earthiness, and mild smoke. Firm alcohols are evident in the nose, but not obvious from Scotch barrel aging. Flavors of dry, roasted barley rests on a firm barley malt, sweet pillow. Decorated with peaty eartiness, walnuts, and dark fruits found in the nose-only muted. A complementary Scotch Whisky alcohol, oak, and smoke compounds the balace with complexity and variety. Light signs of oxidation (soy sauce) actually add to the complexity. The texture is rich, full, and viscous. The alcohols show signs of roughness that age will round out. Somewhat hot and numbing. Hop bitterness complements the roast barley and smoke nicely. Finishes malty rich and dry (coffee-like) with low sweetness. Very nice beer that will certainly improve with age. This beer begs to be paired with a robust cigar.

BEERchitect, May 11, 2008
Photo of charlzm
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Consumed 05/06/08.

A black beer with a thin than head that turns to sticky lace.

Aroma is dark roasted malt with a hint of whiskey.

Almost stoutlike in character, the flavor is dark roasted malt with notes of caramel. Some dark fruit character. In contrast to the 30 Reserve version of this beer, the booze flavor is restrained and is a complimentary note instead of the major flavor component.

Mouthfeel is smooth and bit chewy.

Very drinkable, but feels bigger than it is (ABV-wise).

charlzm, May 08, 2008
Photo of soupyman10
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%

Got this one as a gift from my dad. Nice choice! Pours a surprisingly dark brown, almost stoutish color, with a nice finger of off-white head that dissolves fairly quickly down to a nice fine haze. No real lacing. Taste is strong and delicious. Tons of coffee and caramel malt. Roasted-ness in there. Chocolate and light hints of the ABV. Feel gets thicker as the beer goes down, interestingly enough. Smooth carbonation that fits just right. Really, this one is excellent. I guess the price is up there, but as a gift, I have no complaints. Delicious all around.

soupyman10, May 06, 2008
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%

Bottle courtesy of goryshkewych: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a medium foamy brown head with good retention retention. Aroma of chocolate with roasted malt is easily identifiable. The roasted malt with some medium notes of chocolate and coffee also dominates taste. Nice creamy body with some good carbonation and no alcohol was discernable. I can't say that I distinguished a lot of differences form the regular version and likely would stick to that one considering the difference in prices.

Phyl21ca, May 06, 2008
Photo of techdiver
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%

Pours an absolutely pitch black as far as I can tell by holding up to sunlight. An agressive pour still gives a minimal head.

Caramel roasted malt nose.

Complex and everchanging taste, as is the mouthfeel. At first seems a bit brash and thin. As time passes it becomes a much more enjoyable and fuller bodied brew.

A drinkable but pricey beer.

techdiver, May 04, 2008
Photo of bobhits
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%

Going into this I'll just say I haven't a clue what style this is or how to really compare it. I've had oak aged beers but never a scotch aged one. I like old ales but I've never had one like this either.

A. Pitch black. Thin dark tan head that leaves little lacing. If you swirl it around the glass you'll see it leave a nice tan foam. Very nice.

S. Not much here to start. It has that burnt bitter stout smell. Not really reminding me of an old ale. It has a nice oak smell going there with the stout/bitter aroma.

T. This is a nice stock ale flavor. There aren't any hops really coming out and the oak flavor really only hits near the end and it's very subtle. There isn't a lot of flavor or complexity here, but there are some nice undertones in the back that you'll notice as you sip on it. The balance is what most would consider perfection. With oak aged beers I don't really enjoy hops but for some reason I want either some hops or some more oak flavor here. That said this is a very interesting beer. I haven't a clue what one would eat with this though.

M. SMOOTH! Wow, though a burn at the back of the throat. It's very thick and filling.

D. At 7.50 a bottle and this being their cheapest of this series it better be a sipper and something you could share and it is.

As I said I don't know how to score this. I'll say this, I won't buy it again. It's expensive and it doesn't jump out as something special. That said I would like to try the other two in this series. It also seems to be taking a stock ale and starting to make it a stout. I'm going to score it as a sipper and as a bigger beer than it really is as that's how it drinks. If they had any intentions of this being

bobhits, May 03, 2008
Photo of mithrascruor
4.97/5  rDev +20.9%

Bottle poured into a snifter at O'Brien's, San Diego.

An absolutely lovely beer that is (sadly) both pricey and hard-to-find! Pours an almost inky black color with minimal head and carbonation... just a handful of dark tan bubbles sitting at the edge of the glass. Lovely malt flavor with elements of dark wood, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Taste is similar... quite complex and full of subtle surprises. The fermentation in whisky barrels really contributes something to the flavor and experience here that I haven't found in similarly brewed beers. Incredibly smooth. This is a beer to be enjoyed very slowly! A new beer amongst my favorites...

mithrascruor, Apr 29, 2008
Photo of peabody
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%

Pours out really black with just a smidge of offwhite bubbles. Not a bubbly brew at all here.
Smell is strong coffee and caramel with a hint of dark chocolate. The maltyness is what stands out here. Very slight scotch smell here. I am not a Scotch drinker but have had some and this smells good.
Taste is just great. Coffee and chocolate malts mix with raisin fruitiness and caramel sugars.
This is a great old ale. I don't remember drinking another old ale but this one is fantastic.
Mouthfeel is spot on here with just a little oilyness but the aftertaste lingers for a while and then the phenols kick in and warm up the back of the throat.
If this stuff was cheaper I could drink quite a few of these. Need to have it on tap.

peabody, Apr 28, 2008
Photo of lifebeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%

a. pours a burnt chocolate brown, sits black in the glass, 1/2 milk chocolate-colored head that dissipates quickly

s. roasted malts, smoked peat, wood and chocolate..a bitter-smelling something makes this wholly unique, but i can't quite place

t. woody chocolate with a finish of charred beef and earth

m. a medium thickness that becomes creamier with increasing temperature

d. enjoyed as a sipper

nice and complex, stands out from other scotch ales, better for colder temperatures, would definitely drink again, highly recommended

lifebeer, Apr 25, 2008
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 651 ratings.