1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

385 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 385
Reviews: 223
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 78
Gots: 91 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Every bottle of this extremely limited Ola Dubh 30th Anniversary Ale has been individually numbered. Our ale has been aged for up to six months in first fill sherry butts, formerly used to mature Highland Park's award-winning 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. These hand selected butts add subtle whisky notes to what is already a complex ale with its chocolatey mouthfeel and distinctive bittersweet finish. The high ABV has been deliberately created to stand up to, and blend with, the intensity of flavor created by the infused wood.

(Beer added by: rallison on 02-23-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 385 | Reviews: 223 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dcmchew
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%

Pitch black, no head whatsoever, but very sticky as you tilt and move it around, really looks like "black oil".
Smell isn't too strong from afar, but it's really nice as you stick your nose in there. Roasted salted toffee, dark roasted malts, nice coffee notes, nice whisky with a mild peaty note, lots of woodiness, faint dark grape and dark chocolate.
Whisky up front from the first sip, with a clearer peat note. There's a small alcoholic pinch, but not boozy. Dark fruity zing also helps balancing things in the start, with nice plum, dark grape, juicy fig. Some caramel, toffee, licorice and vanilla right before the malts peak, with a bit of chocolate, but mostly roast and some nice mild coffee. Finishes with a deeper roast (not huge), some wood (a bit smoked), faint cigar and a surprising herbal hoppy bitterness that manages to bring just a bit more.
Almost flat, but not that thick and sticky. Oily, coating all the palate, but really really easy to drink, and this time it's not a problem, considering the low abv (when confronting other whisky barreled beers, that is). Aftertaste retains some whiskey, some coffee bean, faint peat and a bit of plum.
Really great, a nice complex tasting experience that ends too soon. Expected it to be a bit stronger in aroma and flavor, especially after trying the Old Engine Oils, but what it lacks in strength compensates in complexity.

dcmchew, Sep 23, 2014
Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into snifter; bottle #03946, bottled in 6/2013. Pours fairly pitch black color with a small fairly dense khaki head with decent retention, that reduces to a thin spotty cap of lace that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, oak, raisin, fig, dark bread, light peat smoke, light leather, and roast/oak earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and oak cask notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, dark bread, oak, raisin, fig, peat smoke, leather, and roast/oak earthiness. Slight roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roast, vanilla, toast, toffee, dark bread, raisin, fig, oak, peat smoke, light leather, and roasted/oak earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of dark/roasted malt and oak cask flavors; with a great oak/malt flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, fairly creamy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent old ale style. All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and oak cask flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

superspak, Jun 10, 2014
Photo of jrenihan
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

BB July 2016/bottled June 2013

The beer is very dark brown in colour - close to black but with some reddish hues. Almost no head.

Nose contains peat, smoke, toffee, whisky, chocolate and some fruit notes. Very complex and quite nice.

Taste is very strong, containing peat, smoke, a leather-like flavour, wood, whisky, and a touch of dark fruit. A bit astringent. Somewhat bitter. A lot happening, but not super enjoyable.

Full bodied, low to moderate carbonation. Despite the full body, still feels a bit thin somehow.

Overall, disappointing. The nose is really good but the rest doesn't live up. I liked the younger variants more.

jrenihan, Mar 15, 2014
Photo of mick303
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vertical tasting of the range, from notes.
A - pitch black with no head at all. 4
S - VANILLA! maple syrup, waffles, sweet creaminess, so amazing and complex, intoxicating. 4.75
T - chocolate, slight alcohol heat, just amazing, rich whisky notes, dry caramel, leafy, cherries but not sweet, restrained lactose, black pepper just so complex and nuanced. 4.5
M - smooth, no carbonation, just sticks on the palate and so rich. 4.5
O - dances on the palate, just awesome, this was a really mind-blowing whisky-aged beer. 5

mick303, Jun 17, 2013
Photo of SLeffler27
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A fine, thin blanket of chestnut mousse leaves a delicate veil of lace while a viscous, black (SRM 40) liquor coats the Glencairn snifter. The short-lived head becomes a thin ring after a few minutes.

Rich chocolate malt and whiskey is omnipresent, but beneficent. A syrupy and roasted character develops with warmth as smoky peat and molasses loiter in the background.

Rich flavors closely follow the aromas of dark fruit such as fig and prune, while molasses is exposed by warmth. All mix well with earthy peat flavors as it teeters from sweet to bitter. Molasses and brown sugar are evident in the ever-so-subtle, but lingering, finish.

This variant of Ola Dubh is extremely smooth, with a full, almost dense, body. The alcohol is lightly warming and much higher than anticipated, especially given 5.5 years in the bottle. Carbonation is like fine pin pricks amidst a velvety texture.

This is a prime example of what a contemplative beer can be. It would easily stand up to cigars or brownie bottom sundaes. It brings to mind memories of long conversations with my grandfather in leather chairs surrounded by old books in a cigar-smoke filled room.

Bottle number 6001, dated September 2007. This could also fit a rich porter style.

SLeffler27, Apr 21, 2013
Photo of laituegonflable
3.38/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, mostly black. Head is a nice beige, just bubbles around the surface - at its most dense have a nice crema look to it. Lace is decent at first but doesn't stick around. Not bad at all.

Smells pretty boozey. Dark, yeasty, almost vegemitey aroma with a touch of peppery spice, dark chocolate and burnt toast. But yeah, very yeast-extract kind of organic aroma all over the roasty grain. Not that impressed, to be honest.

Taste is not as boozey as I expected at all; in fact it's quite uneventful. Quite dry, with light notes of caramel, some bisscuity flavour, just grainy and slight vanilla notes. It's really quite drinkable, but primarily because there's not a whole lot going on there. Decent, though, just not very exciting. Largely sweet, but enough to balance.

Very thin and empty on the feel. Definitely lets it down here, because some more presence on the tongue would make up for some of the palate's shortcomings. Amazingly not hot for 8%, but there's just nothing really to it.

Drinkable, fairly unexciting beer. Sessionable as hell for a dark 8% beer though.

laituegonflable, Apr 07, 2013
Photo of kojevergas
3.29/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

"Harviestoun 30th Anniversary Ola Dubh." Limited Edition Special Reserve.

11.2 fl oz brown glass bottle with black foil-ed over branded silver pry-off pressure cap and an accompanying pendant came packaged inside a cardboard box, in a manner akin to good whiskeys. This elaborate presentation helps evoke a classy Scotch-like beer. Let's hope the beer lives up to the packaging...

Bottle No & Date: 07233. June 13.

Served cold into a snifter and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: None. Just a weak floater ring about the edges of the top of the body which recedes within 10 seconds. No lacing.

BODY: Weak dark black. Not an opaque ink or jet black; I can see the logo of my snifter through the top of the beer; this has shocking transparency for its darkness. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a generally appealing whisky barrel aged ale, but it's far from unique or special. We've all seen far better. Average at best.

AROMA: Sherry wine, wine-soaked dampened wood, marshmallow, cranberry, pomegranate, raisin, chocolate, chocolate malts, and of course intricate whiskey with a bit of warm welcoming booze and slight almost gingery spice. Brandy soaked fruit, milk chocolate, a kiss of citrus, and a hint of peat.

The barrel notes melt seamlessly into the base beer, and the sherry is a real stand-out, as is the marshmallow and pomegranate. The barrel character is striking, and far more intricate than what I usually come across.

As it warms, some dark grape emerges, along with impressions of fig and plum. It grows more leathery, and I find hints of dark bread and robust dark malt.

This is an intricate rich aroma suggestive of a delightfully complex and subtly executed ale. I'm deeply interested in trying it. Aromatic intensity is moderate.

No hops, yeast, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Hm. The taste is substantially less intricate and subtle than the aroma, to its detriment and my disappointment. The barrel character is a bit mundane; it's not spicy enough to evoke whiskey, not wine or grape-evocative enough to suggest sherry, and not vanilla-laden enough to satisfy bourbon cravings. Dampened wood dominates, with the faint beginnings of wet cardboard that suggest this beer will be terrible as oxidation grows - and may even be over-aged already. The base beer is uninteresting; I get some sticky thick sugars, marshmallow, chocolate malts, and dark malts - but little else. Light burnt characteristics add more bitterness to an ale which already has severe sweetness/bitterness balance issues.

It's nowhere near as enjoyable as I hoped it'd be, and really disappoints in terms of complexity and subtlety. The pomegranate fruit is a highlight, but even that is relatively weak. It's actually a somewhat shallow depth of flavour. The flavour intensity and duration are both average, if not below average.

I do like it for what it is. But it drinks boozier than 8%, and doesn't bring the whiskey barrel as much as it should.

TEXTURE: Weak, thin, sticky, unrefreshing, smooth, wet, and undercarbonated. Not the creamy silky soft mouthfeel I hoped for. Execution is subpar.It should be chewier.

OVERALL: The taste fails to fulfill the promises of the aroma, and the result is a real letdown of a beer. I hoped for so much more, especially at this price point. I'd caution friends from pulling the trigger on this and frankly I prefer Harviestoun's less expensive offerings. This won't age well and I wouldn't want a second bottle. I'll finish this, of course, but it's not the decadent exquisite brew I thought it might be.

I don't smoke, but I imagine this beer would pair well with a fine cigar, an old armchair, and a good book.

Low B-

kojevergas, Sunday at 03:53 AM
Photo of Trashcat
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Trashcat, Saturday at 09:18 PM
Photo of a77cj7
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

a77cj7, Nov 19, 2014
Photo of mattmarka1
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%

mattmarka1, Nov 08, 2014
Photo of seangibbs60
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%

seangibbs60, Nov 08, 2014
Photo of GeorgiaBeerGuy
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

GeorgiaBeerGuy, Nov 06, 2014
Photo of R_Kole
5/5  rDev +17.6%

R_Kole, Nov 01, 2014
Photo of Morey
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Morey, Oct 28, 2014
Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

t2grogan, Oct 09, 2014
Photo of mtomlins
3.33/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Number and Date: 21830 in September 2007.
Poured: September 2014 (7 years old)
Thanks to tbadiuk for the bottle!!

mtomlins, Oct 09, 2014
Photo of markgugs
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

markgugs, Oct 07, 2014
Photo of Hellpop65
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Hellpop65, Oct 04, 2014
Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev 0%

liamt07, Sep 29, 2014
Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev -5.9%

imperialking, Sep 28, 2014
Photo of brywhite
4.25/5  rDev 0%

brywhite, Sep 25, 2014
Photo of Chefmemo72
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%

Chefmemo72, Sep 23, 2014
Photo of ChrisinRI
4/5  rDev -5.9%

ChrisinRI, Sep 14, 2014
Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev 0%

zestar, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of WTKeene
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%

WTKeene, Sep 05, 2014
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 385 ratings.