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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

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719 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 719
Reviews: 348
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 11.68%
Wants: 37
Gots: 109 | FT: 7
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: 719 | Reviews: 348 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stoutfiend27
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cask at the Brick Store.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Had this on cask at the Brick Store.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M: Nice, booze friendlt, hearty

D: Very good

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

Bottle #15639 from 09/07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of cvfish
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - poured an oily black with reddish outlines and produced a tan head that retained well and left a decent amount of lacing

S - big whiskey smells! which i loved

T - whiskey! mixed with roasted coffee beans and dark choclolate!

M - medium bodied with moderate carbonation

D - great beer, if you enjoy whiskey! cheers!

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

Pours engine oil black with a lasting small head and great lacing... Smell is malty, smoky. Taste is sweet malt, molasses, smoke, alcohol and hops. Smooth with a dry finish describes the mouthfeel. Drinkability is very good, with an excellent dry finish.

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

Black/ruby pour with nearly no head arising, just the faint circulating of some miniscule bubbles throughout. Solid malt aroma, molasses. Nice suble hints of the whisky barrels blend really well with the big maltiness. Some raisin, vanilla, maple syrup likeness also. Very smooth and drinkable. I worry that the brews with the higher aged barrels will take on too much character from the barrel, I guess I'll have to see. This one, is excellent however. If it was cheaper I'd invest in a case of it.

Photo of magictrokini
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the Pizza Port Bottle Shop. Pours black with a ring of tan bubbles. Peaty, roasty aroma with oak, chocolate, and smoke. Exceptionally smooth taste. Nice roasted malt and baker's chocolate flavors. The peat and smoke compliment the beer nicely without overrunning the taste. Hints of oak, vanilla, and caramel come out as it warms. Worth every penny.

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

Deep black in color-pours looking like ink. Not a lot of carbonation. Nice aroma of oak and a mild scotch smell. Ever so slightly smoked. Very full and heavy flavor. Just enough whiskey and oak flavors for my liking. Very slight alcohol tinge. Hint of graininess. Nice mouthfeel. Really smooth-you could slam this but it really is a perfect sipper. Very drinkable and enjoyable. Not in your face like most of the barrel aged beers tend to be for me.

Photo of jlaplume76
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Not gonna get to into this one, only thing you need to know is that this is one exceptional beverage, well worth the expense. Every facet of this ale is complex yet well designed and perfectly excecuted. A fine pour, to be shared with friends. Ola Dubh means Black Oil in Gaelic and this is definately black gold.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.31/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

$8 for 11.2oz bottle
Bottled Sept 2007 Sampled Nov 2008

A vigorous pour barely coaxes a head out of this solid black beer. Heavy aroma of vanilla some roasted malts, chocolate and some scotch. I love the aroma its very enticing. Taste is chocolate and roasted malts, faint scotch and ash. Lingering roasted malt bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth. Body is medium Carbonation is adequate. Great smelling and tasting brew. I would have liked the body a bit thicker, but great just the same. Subtle, not over whiskey'd.

Photo of ibbjamin
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid at least $10 for this 11.2 oz bottle from City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA. Poured into a snifter.
As noted on bottle:
Bottle No. 08759
Date: Sept 2007

I am tasting this Nov 2008.

Poured as aggressive as possible, leaving a half inch dark tan head. Black in color. Good thin lacing. Almost no head retention.

Smells of dark, smokey and roasted malts. Some dark chocolate and deep red cherries. A quality, well balanced brew.

A good flavor to this brew. Rather medicinal. The smokiness comes out even more in the taste. Leaves a woodsy aftertaste courtesy of the whiskey casks it was aged in. Well balanced, quality ingredients.

Very easy to drink. The mouth is very pleasant. A very mild creaminess and thickness. Fully body. Almost no carbonation.

Highly recommended.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle picked up sometime in the last two weeks at the Coop... I paid somewhere in the $7 neighborhood.

poured into my chimay goblet... 1" head from a fairly aggressive pour... tan bubbly cap.. lite lace.. but it is there.. the brew is black.

plummy and some cherry.. but mainly smokey scotch and dark malt.. raisin and fig if I concentrate.

Flavor isn't as boozy as the nose lets on... earthy and smokey.. sorta beef jerky.. salty.. roasty and oaky.... body is lighter than expected.. so is the carbonation.. reminds me of a cigar..

sorry.. I know this is complex.. but I just am having a hard time enjoying it.


Photo of thirtysixbelow
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Barack Obama is president! Good enough occasion for this baby.

a - almost completely opaque. A very thin creamy dark tan like head. It almost looks like a cup of hot chocolate on top.

s - smokey, nutty, caramel, sweet, and chocolate

t - Sweet, smokey, chocolate, nutty, and caramel all come to mind right up front. A definite wood character that really makes this one special. The alcohol comes through with some charred notes which leads to a bitter dry finish.

m - very full and smooth

d - This is a fantastic brew with a few things I havn't found in any other beer. Mostly the charred and wood flavors. The bitterness was a little high for my liking, but nothing too catastrophic. I have to take off a few points somewhere and this seems like the spot. There are other beers that give a solid experience for much much less money. This beer is very good yet I don't find myself coming back due to price. If it was the best beer I have ever had I might enjoy it on special occasions but it just didn't quite make the mark. Definitely worth the try, but If I come back it will be for the 16 or 30 :)

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.25/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

drank this with all three reserves side-by-side, the 12, 16, and 30.

Bottle 20110/Sept 2007

A - pours a motor oil, RIS-esque black, with a thick caramel colored head, that fades into a retentive ring (Same on all three)

S - more non-alcohol related sweet notes in this one than the other two, dark chocolates, caramel, toffee, and some slight whiskey notes

T - very bitter chocolate taste, like the darkest of dark chocolates, some woody resiny notes, not as sweet as the aroma hinted, some distinct coffee beaniness

M&D - thinner than its friends, but far more bitter than expected, almost to an unenjoyable extent, definitely my least favorite of the three

Photo of midaszero
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number 28488 September 2007

A - Opaque black with one finger of tan head and good lacing

S - Chocolate coffee and molasses

T - Smooth and creamy taste with smokey highlights and vanilla, tobacco mixed in. Sweet after taste. Hides the alcohol well.

M - Medium body with light medium carbonation

D - Very enjoyable and easy to drink. If it wasn't so expensive I would get it more often

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: snifter. pours an abyss-like black. nice dark tan head. decent retention rate and mild lacing.

S: some sourness in the nose. tons of roasted malts, coffee, toffee, and some cocoa. some fruit hints, berries mostly.

T: a lot of dark berries, some peat flavors. dark roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and some toffee. some whiskey qualities.

M: medium to heavy bodied. low carbonation level. very mellow.

D: very smooth ans enjoyable. solid wood aged beer. well worth getting the first of this series. it was aged a year in the cellar as well.

Photo of ccrida
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

33cl bottle (#27221/Sept 2007) poured into my Deschutes snifter, Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 is an pitch black with a light brown head that settles to a thick collar and leaves decent lace.

Smell campfire, vanilla, chocolate, cured fruits. Good, and more complex then the taste.

Taste is also rather smokey, a bit charred to the point of dominating the rest without being overwhelmed. Some chocolate, a hint of waxy phenols, the alcohol is most noticeable on the sides of the tongue, prickly and dry. Otherwise, just some dark malty notes and a little lactose like sweetness, with the oak and scotch coming through on the aftertaste, more so as it warms from cellar temp of about 55F. I was expecting more depth, and although it's good, I don't feel it's worth the price of admission, when I could get a whole bomber of Alaskan Smoked Porter for about the same price ($6.99 IIRC).

Mouthfeel is oily but not as thick as it looks, it actually has a lighter body for the size, and is rather smooth, drier.

Drinkability is ok, a tasty beer, but for the price and rarity, it's pretty much one an done. Still, a good one.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black with minimal head.

Scent of cocoa, peat, some malts, and oak.

Taste is smokey and somewhat sweet with more peat and some bittersweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel is clean and smooth.

I love a good scotch and a good beer, so this one was a nice treat for me.

Photo of AMo
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 12 Reserve pours a medium dense opaque black. There is an intial brown fizz of a head that quickly dissipates to a black glossy top. First smell is moderately strong with a malt whiskey like aroma. I find the smell very pleasant for a malty dense like brew and it boldens throughout the drink. Taste is mellow with a flavor range of coffee, bitter chocolate, and a slight harsh whisky note. Mouthfeel has little carbonation and is moderatly dense. A slight sticky residue resides with some lingering whisky character. Overall this was a good black brew. There was a lot of good flavor in there but it just didn't come out strong enough to make it great.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
92 out of 100 based on 719 ratings.