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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.

638 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 638
Reviews: 338
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.92%
Wants: 31
Gots: 81 | FT: 3
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: 638 | Reviews: 338 | Display Reviews Only:
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


05-20-2008 05:14:57 | More by Redwood21
Photo of ATPete

New Jersey

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

05-16-2008 15:32:03 | More by ATPete
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.

05-15-2008 02:37:08 | More by Br0
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.

05-11-2008 03:50:04 | More by BEERchitect
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).

05-08-2008 03:29:33 | More by charlzm
Photo of soupyman10

District of Columbia

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.

05-06-2008 22:55:44 | More by soupyman10
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

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.

05-06-2008 18:08:34 | More by Phyl21ca
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.

05-04-2008 18:28:33 | More by techdiver
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

05-03-2008 00:49:01 | More by bobhits
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...

04-29-2008 04:16:32 | More by mithrascruor
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.

04-28-2008 01:49:59 | More by peabody
Photo of lifebeer

New Jersey

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

04-25-2008 01:02:27 | More by lifebeer
Photo of jeonseh


4.4/5  rDev +7.1%

From bottle 12625 and poured into a snifter glass. I was lucky to get a bottle from the local beer guy who likes me and let me have one of the bottle of the one case they got.

A - Pours out rather thick and actually kinda reminded me of a black syrup. Had a chocolate creme colored head that faded away and then just faded away to the sides. Dark, black, ominous and reflective as no light gets through it. Have to say I was surprised by the thick glug glug of it.

S - Big whiff of chocolate sweetness that mixes in with a hint of peatiness and smokiness. Has a hint of meat like smokiness as well, would even possibly say bacon. Hints and odor of oak comes up as well which is what we would expect given the aging. In the sweetness, also pick up a hint of vanilla as well.

T - Has a sweet taste of chocolate malt that comes up first. After that, there is a hint of caramel before comes in a hint of peat. There was a of roasted smokiness that comes through as well with a hint of pepper. I was really surprised by the sweetness that came on so strong and really makes itself more known than the peatiness. All the flavors are rather subdued and blend together well. Nothing pops out really but all blends well. The aftertaste is more towards a peat smokiness and also get that peppery roasted flavor.

MF - Hardly any carbonation at all as the beer just kinda rolls out and coats the tongue. Has a slight astringent feeling as well in the mouth. A rather thin though given the look of the beer. I expected it to be a bit thicker than it actually was since it looked so syrupy.

D - Actually, a lot easier to drink than I expected. I was thinking this would be a definite sipper but on the whole it was easy to drink. I think part of this has to do with the lighter mouthfeel. It was a tasty brew and would definitely enjoy another if I have the chance to buy one.

04-20-2008 02:40:34 | More by jeonseh
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.7/5  rDev -10%

Bottle 04111, September 2007 Date; sampled April 2008
A vigorous pour produces a two-finger thick, frothy, fairly large bubbled, creamed cocoa-brown colored head. The beer is almost indistinguishable from black, but does show a touch of deep, dark, burnt-amber color if held up directly to the light. Wow, this smells like a rich, savory candy that is a mix of teriyaki, sesame, and concentrated toffee. Underneath this are substantial aromatic notes of prunes and dried figs that are joined by softer, but quite distinct notes of salty, smoky peat reek. Molasses aromatics play a huge role, just a confluence of the sweet, concentrated malt and the savor malt and peat character. This beer is dripping with umami aromatics; rich, savory, hearty & a concentrated, aged malt character that is just oozing drops of intense malt character.

Thick, but quite a bit lighter than might be suggested by the aroma; in fact it has a thinness that I was expecting before I cracked this beer and smelled the concentrate aroma. Flavors of lightly sweet, yet rich, molasses, Hoisin sauce, concentrated graham crackers, buttery toffee and burnt salt-water taffy; really this beer is not all that sweet, but just enough to keep the richness in check. The finish is dried out quite a bit by a lingering, slightly astringent, light bitter, burnt malt character that adds flavors of cold-pressed black coffee, . The whisky notes are fairly soft here, I think it is mostly a salty, smoky peat-derived character that shows up; it most definitely adds to the richness of this brew.

The flavor of this beer is quite a bit better and richer if you take a few minutes rest between sips, without doing this the beer somehow comes off as being a bit thin. The molasses like character of this brew is perhaps as big as I have ever tasted in a beer and this mixes quite well with a solid smokiness that is quite pleasing to my palate. An interesting beer; I definitely like the balance and character that the barrel aging has brought as it is not too overwhelming here.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

04-19-2008 04:48:27 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of cannabanaceae


4.72/5  rDev +14.8%

Got this bottle labeled sept. 07 11.2oz for $8.99. Poured thick black with a small brown dissipating head into a snifter. Smelled of wood , vanilla, candi sugar I picked up some smoky flavors that reminded me of a Islay scotch. The taste on this one was my favorite part With a smooth chocolaty burnt wood taste, kind of oily on the mouthful little carbonation head totally gone now. The finish was very smooth with a little hop bitterness detected and very little alcohol for this great 8% old ale. Even with the hefty price tag I would try to find this rare one again.

04-18-2008 16:20:45 | More by cannabanaceae
Photo of klewis


4.4/5  rDev +7.1%

Bottle #1597 - Sept 2007

A: Pours completely black with a modest bubbly head. Light lacing and a small frothy halo adorn the glass.

S: Aromas of molasses and caramel with a strong, earthy scotch smell.

T: A complex taste that is malty up front followed by a crisp bitterness. Roasted taste with smooth vanilla flavor and a finish of smoky scotch. Lots going on here.

M: Medium-bodied with light carbonation. Silky smooth texture with some alcoholic heat. The fullness of its flavor makes the mouthfeel seem heavier than it really is.

D: The flavor of this one is so intense, it makes drinking it a bit tiresome, but it's pretty damn good anyway. Worth the price tag.

04-10-2008 22:40:08 | More by klewis
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.03/5  rDev -1.9%

Appears a deep opaque charcoal tinted dried blood burgundy with a large mocha tan head sticking around a good bit after a sturdy upright pour, left behind is fine even lacing all around my chalice with each sip. Aromatics contain deep barrel aged notes with hints of ripened fruit, leather, oak, subtle anise, and mild medicinal layers. Another aspect brings mild chocolate and some burn marshmallow edges. Flavors are brash with oak aging however if you like this than that's a plus, big malty layers full of plum and vinous dried fruit notes. Mint edged chocolate with oak chips soaked in brandy really sum up the aspect that stands out here. Soothing alcohol soaked in fruit notes impresses me as well. Mouthfeel overall is viscous with complexity and a slightly hot alcohol finish carbonation overall is incredibly smooth and silky. Drinkability a complex beginning and really enjoyable UK experiment I hope to see more of this type of brew being bottled and shared around the world this is fantastic and I'm sure the 16 and 30 just get better and better time to go invest in those two this Friday.

04-09-2008 05:31:46 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.45/5  rDev -16.1%

Appearance: Pours a plain black body with a frothed, though quickly diminishing, off-white head.

Smell: Respectably old, aged malts with a vein of dark fruitiness and a faroff hint of whiskey.

Taste: Dark malts deliver flavors of dark caramel, chocolate, and a even a little coffee. Solid sweetness. A firm pinch of pipe tobacco. Very light earthy bitterness. Mild whiskey character lends a warming finish. There's a creaky woodiness that begins to creep into the aftertaste and flavor with each sip, so drink fast!

Mouthfeel: Just barely medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's okay. In all honesty, it started losing me as time went on. Now to get my greedy hands on that 16 year old (the beer) to continue the Ola Dubh line.

04-06-2008 04:06:55 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.55/5  rDev -13.6%

Ok, so I had to go out and grab all three of these releases, cause, well the idea has really intrigued me. I had originally planned on sampling all three in one night, but decided against it as I figured I would get burned out. I went with the bottom up and took down the 12 year first. The pour was as I expected, pitch black as night with no foam, no head, no lace, no nothing. Just a dead in the water black oil looking liquid, much as the original was, no surprise here and rather uninspiring.

The aroma was different, and nowhere near as strong as I thought it would be. Hints of whisky were very light here and the only thing really coming through was the deep roasted malt aroma. There was almost a smoky quality to it as well, though very light with perhaps a touch of earthiness way in the back. The taste came off somewhat flat to me, but maybe it is just me. There is no carbonation in this one at all, which we knew going in, however it just felt a touch thin to me to be honest, the flavors were very nice, but again kinda weak as far as the profile. Lots of smoky notes were riddled throughout this one, really dominating everything overall. There was the slightest bit of a whiskey taste, but I really thought it would have been stronger. A touch of alcohol in the beginning, but as it mellowed this really went away. The finish was a bit dry and had a nice wood like barrel taste at the end. This was an easy sipper, if not a gulper as everything was quite mellow and nothing was really standing out to me and making me think.

Overall, I am not going to lie, I am disappointed in this. I would have thought the flavors would have been much more pronounced and the aging taken a nice effect on it, but it just seemed too subdued for me, really never achieving any great height or depth. I am hoping the 16-year and especially the 30-year come off much better, we shall see. I will pop one this weekend and find out.

03-29-2008 21:13:40 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of YonderWanderer


4.35/5  rDev +5.8%

A: Pours a jet black with a hint of brownish-red on the edge when held up to the light. A dark tan head forms, but leaves fairly quickly.

S: Scotch hits you up-front, followed by some hints of chocolate, maybe a bit of coffee, and some dark fruit. Complex, and likely with other hints that I'm not identifying well.

T: Fantastic. Scotch dominates, but not in an unpleasant way. Chocolate, coffee, a hint of vanilla, some roasted malt, all join together in a delicious blend of flavor. Alcohol warms a little bit, but otherwise is not present. This is a damn tasty brew.

M: Silky smooth, a bit thinner than I would have expected, but still damn good. Light carbonation which fits perfectly.

D: This drinks easy. Scary easy honestly. At 8%, it's balanced and incredibly drinkable.

03-29-2008 14:39:03 | More by YonderWanderer
Photo of GbVDave


4.45/5  rDev +8.3%

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a St. Feuillian chalice.

Bottle # & date: 08787/Sept. 2007

A: Pours a lovely obsidian color with hints of brown at the edges. A vigorous pour yields a fleeting and bubbly, med. dark khaki colored head. In under a minute I was left with a thick and bubbly ring and whispy skim.

S: Interesting and complex aromas of scotch (obviously!), rich milk chocolate, and dark fruit. Also present were dark roasted malt, brown sugar, smoky peat, toasted vanilla bean, and real charcoal.

T: Right off the bat, I'm greeted with a blast of scotch, over-ripe plums, chocolate, and cherry. Accompanying this is some kick-ass smoky char, espresso, burnt malt, freshly cracked black pepper, peat, brown sugar/molassas, and hops.

M: Slightly thin but good. What a mixture of sweet, smoky, peppery, dry and bitter. Initially sweet, but quickly turns spicy, bitter, and dry during the middle and finish.

D: I thought the thinness of this actually helped the drinkability score. Very easy to drink and quite rewarding. I can't wait to try the next two vintages. Seek this out at all costs!

03-28-2008 00:43:16 | More by GbVDave
Photo of Lupe

New York

4.38/5  rDev +6.6%

Bottle No. 05284 - Sept 2007

Color is almost completely black, with just a bit of brown at the top when held to the light. Brown head starts small and tight before quickly dissipating. Pretty much no lace to speak of.

Dark malt aroma with a healthy dose of Scotch and wood. The Scotch is very much present, but does not dominate or take away from other aromas. Hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, and some spice - cinnamon.

Flavor is similar to the aroma, but with less of the Scotch coming through. Dark roast malt with chocolate, vanilla, and light coffee. Hints of smooth Scotch and faint woodiness. Has a nice balancing hop flavor and bitterness that doesn't get in the way, but keeps things in check. Finishes with caramel and a touch of char. Incredibly balanced and a amazing melding of the flavors.

Surprisingly light in body. Looks thick, smells and tastes rich, but much thinner than expected. Smooth nonetheless with very little carbonation. Between the light body and barely noticeable alcohol, this is one easy drinking beer.

I love the Scotch character. Not overwhelming like some barrel-aged beers can be. Smooth and mellow. Very good - can't wait to try the others.

03-27-2008 14:14:44 | More by Lupe
Photo of illidurit


3.95/5  rDev -3.9%

Bottle #2749 poured into a snifter. Almost completely black, the only exception being a slight ring of brown when held up to strong light. Creamy tan head of about a finger, not much lacing.

Aroma is earthy dark malt and subtle whiskey. I like that the scotch hasn't completely overridden this brew but rather serves as a nice complement. Cinnamon makes an appearance too.

Flavor is great but just a bit too faint. The oak really stands out, melding well with the chocolate and roasted flavors. I don't detect any fruitiness, which is odd for an old ale.

The glaring thing about this beer's mouthfeel is the thinness of body. It may look really viscous but it's quite light. It makes the drinkability insanely high, but it doesn't lend a lot of support for a tasty blend of flavors. Maybe the other reserves will be thicker.

03-25-2008 08:55:30 | More by illidurit
Photo of rajendra82


3.63/5  rDev -11.7%

The same appearance as the Special 16 and 30 editions, i.e., solid black with a typical Porter-ish beige head. The smell, this time around, was more carob beans, chicory, and chocolate. The taste was easy drinking with a lot of wood tannins and roast grains. The body was kind of thin and underwhelming, but the finish was sprinkled with some spicy hops. I guess I just prefer the obvious Whisky notes of 30 than the astringency of the 16 or the woodiness of the 1. All of them are subtly different from each other, yet they ll succeed in their own way.

03-24-2008 05:18:41 | More by rajendra82
Photo of jwc215


3.9/5  rDev -5.1%

Pours black with no head - just a few bubbles along the edge. A slight bit of dark film sticks to the glass.

The smell is powerful - woody (oak)- cinnamony - with molasses, scotch and dark fruits.

The taste is oaky/woody with cinnamon spiciness. Chocolate/molasses and dark fruitiness mix with some peat. Roastiness comes through in a dry finish.

It has understated carbonation. Alcohol adds some heft to an otherwise thinnish medium body.

It's not quite as rich and robust in flavor or, esp. body, but I'm far from complaining. The whisky barrel sure comes through in a nice way.

03-24-2008 01:18:42 | More by jwc215
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 638 ratings.