Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
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Ratings: 360 | Reviews: 220 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Contagion:
4.9/5 rDev +15%
The coloring is a dark black, like the Gaelic name given it; it's very much reminiscent of black oil. No light passes through, but there is a slight reddish color at the edges. This beer is darker than most that I have experienced. In fact I'm going to say this is the darkest beer that I can recall seeing. A thin tan head formed and slowly faded. It left a nice ring around the edge of the beer and the glass.
The smell was a heavenly mix of rich chocolate malts enhanced with the woody and smoky peat scent of a proper Scotch in the back ground. As it warms a mild caramel scent opens up and compliments the beer even more so. The flavor is much like the scent. A rich roasted chocolate malt flavor and smoky peat flavors mix to a delightful flavor that makes one want to go back for more. There is a gentle bitterness in the finishes that rounds of each sip. Caramel and coffee malts become more noticeable as the beer reaches room temperature. The 8% ABV isn't noticed in the flavor at all.
This is a smooth, full bodied beer. A touch of a viscousness that coats the tongue and mouth locking the flavor. It is definitely a sipping beer.
This has to be the most flavorful and enticing beer I've ever drank. The flavor combinations mixed with the perfect blend of smells really makes this beer something that I could find myself craving. However, at $14.99 a bottle, I think this would be a special occasion beer and definitely not one you buy in bulk for a party. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Ola Dubh, I'd recommend giving it a try.
05-15-2009 02:37:41 | More by Contagion
More User Reviews:
4.5/5 rDev +5.6%
Bottle number 07576. Pours an opaque dark brown body with a surprisingly sturdy tan head that leaves some delicate sheet lacing on the snifter.
Aroma is baked chocolate, smokey peated malt, Scotch whiskey, vanilla, and old oak logs.
Exquisitely smooth on the palate with a subtle carbonation and nearly full body.
Taste is complex, as expected. Chocolate, vanilla, and Scotch whiskey notes open the door to nuances of anise, raisins, and walnuts. Dark roasty bitterness adds complexity. A fireplace smokiness seals the deal.
The Scotch whiskey is a bit more prominent in this one than in the 16 year edition and this one is a bit more complex, as well. A real pleasure to sip.
08-24-2008 23:16:37 | More by merlin48
4.03/5 rDev -5.4%
Part of a double boxed set I got for Christmas, along with the 40 Reserve. A handsome bottle and box combo; both remind me a great deal of those 'mini' sampler scotch bottles. I also love the mouse medallion as well.
Poured into a Duvel chalice. A dark chestnut colour, almost black, but with a touch of lighter tones around the edges. Initially formed a thick, 1/2 inch tan head, but this fizzled out of existence fairly quickly. A thin ring was all that remained. A few flecks of lacing here and there.
Although the nose on the brew could have been more mind-blowingly powerful, it certainly was the highlight of the experience. The scotch notes were unmistakably Orkney, its peaty/leather/iodine character reminding me of the whiskies produced by the nearby Scapa distillery (nearby to Highland Park, anyways) Bourbon, chocolate, cream, dark coffee, dark fruit also made an appearance.
The 30 held its own well, with a strong malty chocolate hit on the front of the tongue and the peaty musky burn towards the back, as is typical of northern scotches. Now the beer doesn't taste like a scotch; it just boasts some strong scotch-like notes. There's still a good Scottish ale background that keeps everything in place. I certainly enjoyed the brew, but again, for something barrel-aged, I was expecting more.
Aggressive, spritzy carbonation at first, but towards the end of the bottle, it almost became flat. I'm going to chock that up to aggressive swirling on my part to induce the nose, as well as the fact that I drank this over the course of about an hour. Thinner bodied, silky.
Like many a high-priced brew, it's good to try this one once, especially if one is comparing it to the 12, 16, 18 and 40, but probably not more than once (unless it's gifted to me, then by all means!). I've had the 12 before, not enough to warrant a review, but enough to find it as drinkable and complex as the 30, so I'm not sure the older barrels are doing as much as the price point says they are. For about 14 bucks a bottle, a beer better be 'damned fantastic'. The 30 was merely 'very good'. till, I have to admit the peaty scotch notes were nice, and the brew itself was worth savoring over the course of an evening, just like I would with a dram of single malt whisky.
01-07-2011 19:41:39 | More by JohnnyBarman
3.9/5 rDev -8.5%
Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.
Appearance: Nearly black with very thin head and some spotty lacing.
Smell: Sweet, salty and barely smoky, like a combination of soy sauce, molasses and peat.
Taste: Peat, molasses and chocolate are the stars of the show here. Some nice oak nuances. Scotch-like finish, with some bitter roasted notes as well. Leaves an odd aftertaste in my mouth.
Feel: Very think, syrupy body with low carbonation. Somewhat chalky, but very smooth.
Overall: Very interesting, unique beer. Doesn't really fit any style. This was actually a birthday present from my barber! Glad I tried it (and glad I didn't pay for it), but not something I would return to.
03-18-2011 02:05:07 | More by bsp77
4.47/5 rDev +4.9%
I love beer and I love scotch. Most of the time, the combination is awesome (except for that BrewDog Storm, yikes). This is representative of the former. Pours black with brown edges. Short-lived brown head, slight lacing. Peat and chocolate fill the nose, but don't overtake the caramel and cream. Coffee-and-chocolate flavor hits you first, but the slow burn of the scotch is right there. Lovely centered, sweet cream and toffee finds its way through. Smoky, peaty, oaky, but avoids the oily/soy-sauce tang that some of the younger brews had. A welcome salty-sweet finish as well. Expensive, but worth it.
07-23-2009 23:03:40 | More by magictrokini
4.5/5 rDev +5.6%
(Served in a snifter)
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a creamy mocha colored head that is thick and last for about 1/2 of the beer. There are some micro-bubbles that can only be seen up close.
S- The smell of dark black malt is soft and a full smell of wet peat moss comes through with some green peppercorn notes and a graham note to follow. There is a woody oak note that comes through and a cocoa note as the beer warms.
T- This beer has a dry black malt flavor with some taste of green apples, peat moss and whiskey with a soft caramel malt note. There is a softer note of black licorice that is not sweet and a dry cinnamon bark note with some black-strap molasses hints as the beer warms. The finish has a nice soft whiskey note that lingers just a second.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slightly full texture and no real alcohol heat.
D- This beer has a good depth of flavor and they are very rich flavors. The barrel compliments the beer and I was looking for a bit of heat to really finish the tasting. Still a wonderful beer.
06-11-2008 18:13:27 | More by rhoadsrage
4.85/5 rDev +13.8%
Appearance: Exactly as the name translates to: "Black Oil"
Aroma: You can smell that this was a cask beer, with hints of chocolate, and scotch.
Taste: Absolutely smooth dark chocolately taste that tones down the undercurrent of scotch and black licorice.
Overall: One of the best beers I've had the luck of stumbling upon. Absolutely incredible. Was it worth the $14 I paid per bottle? No doubt. This was drank as an "end-of-vacation" beer, and man, did I wish I had bought a few more. Also, you can feel the alcohol content on this one. Its thick and drinks like it.
08-23-2009 09:06:09 | More by FlyingRabbit
4.18/5 rDev -1.9%
Ok...now the 30.
Reviews put this higher than the others, but I don't quite agree.
Pour is a little darker mahogany with a creamy off white head that leaves sticky lacing and a solid ring. Better than the 16.
Aroma is even milder than the others...no smoke...soft caramel malts and a hint of alcohol.
Taste is milder as well. No smoke at all to my palette...sweet dark amber malts with some candied sugars....a little vanilla and some bitter chocolate that doesn't exist in the 'younger' versions of this brew. Scotch whiskey is very faint and very smooth in this one.
Drying aftertaste with a bit of bitter chocolate. Mouthfeel is creamy, rich and smooth.
Final evaluation of all three and my vote goes to #16
03-08-2008 06:55:08 | More by IntriqKen
4.15/5 rDev -2.6%
'Tis Burns' Night, and I've nae a wee dram in my cupboard - however - I do have a nice selection of Ola Dubh...best I start with the 'oldest' (read: dearest), methinks...
This beer pours a very dark, dense chocolate brown colour, with cola highlights at the edges, and one finger of creamy mocha head, which settles quickly, leaving little in the way of lace around the glass. Upon jamming my nose into the glass, I'm immediately accosted by that Orkney essence - mild peat smoke, salty fish oil, and iodine - all atop a pretty hefty roasted chocolate caramel malt. The flavour follows suit almost to a tee, but with a tilt towards the chocolate toffee malt, as the barrel characteristics are somewhat consumed, and with an afterthought involving a minor coffee liqueur insurrection. Very little in the way of carbonation, as any resident bubbles were last seen back in the short-lived days of the head. This makes for one smooth tipple, and well, not quite creamy, as the alcohol's astringency tugs at the palate just a tad too much. Last rites are given over to a softening seaside fervour, abutting the persistently loyal Scotch maltiness.
I suppose the 'auld' in this ale comes from the time spent in the Highland casks. And it's a good thing - the nip of the northern islands provide a nice edge to this big malty bastard, which hides its booze like a real miser...
01-26-2011 02:05:00 | More by biboergosum
4.43/5 rDev +4%
Completely, utterly black in color, with a small head that dissipates rather quickly. Only a thin brown ring encircles the top. Looks like decadent stuff.
I remember the aroma on the 16 being terrific; the smells coming off the 30 are absolutely tremendous. Rich gooey fudge, warming alcohol, sherry-soaked dark fruit, a hint of dark roast coffee, vanilla, oak, caramel, even a little graham cracker. Exceptional, indeed.
Flavor is predominantly cola, dark baking chocolate, chocolate fudge/ice-cream, marshmallow, wood, vanilla and alcohol. Not as distinctively Scotch-like as expected. A dark baking chocolate/dark roast coffee bitterness coats the tongue and dominates the finish. This is a wonderful treat, a real sipper and a thing to take slow and behold.
A little surprised at the thinness of body. Leans toward watery, although the mellow carbonation props it up a bit, and the big flavor tricks you into thinking it's thicker than it is. Kind of disappointing in this department.
The strength of this beer is not so much the barrel-aging, but the old ale itself. I'd love to try the old ale in its pure state, before it even hits the barrel. I have a feeling it's a mindblower. The other strength is that this beer will impress Scotch whisky fans, lovers of barrel-aged beers, and even skeptics who generally don't go for this sort of thing. Different enough from the norm that it easily stands out, and actually worth the high price. If the mouthfeel were as viscous and chewy as it should be, it would be an absolute monster.
07-01-2008 22:14:48 | More by Metalmonk
4.3/5 rDev +0.9%
a pricy bitch at $15.99, but for beer aged in 30yr highland park casks...
Pours a deep dark brown with some small ruby highlights, damn near impenetrable. good off white/light tan head. Nose is peat and smoke with some chocolate. A touch of scotch. Flavor is huge with roasted peat malt, some smokiness, smoked malt, defenite peat and some chocolate notes that dance across the palate at different times during each sip. Slight dark fruit and a bit of cherry. The scotch barrell flavor is very apparent just before and throught he finish. Scotch and wood are clear in the flavor on the end. Mouthfeel is rich and viscous, and low in carbonation, in a good way. Drinkability is hampered a bit by the huge richness here, but is quite good for the style and the abv. Great scotch flavor here without the great sctoch burn. Overall a cherishable brew that i think will be excellent with a bit of age. A truly unique brew, and one i will revisit when i feel like a rockstar. A solid, well crafted old ale, that is a real treat when one can afford it. The scot in my lineage smiles with each sip. Great beer.
09-17-2008 03:06:53 | More by AKBelgianBeast
4.65/5 rDev +9.2%
Bottle 07394/Sept 2007.
Black with just a ray or two of light penetrating the edge, trimmed with small, tan-brown, lacy froth.
Finally! More Highland Park signatures on the nose. The 12 and 16yo expressions left me wanting. This doesn't. Plenty of plummy, anise-rich, fudge and espresso maltiness, but now the Sherry wood and honey and peat and subtle maritime elements of HP show up in the nose of this beer.
It enters with a tidal wave of toffeed fudge, fading slowly to reveal espresso, bitter cocoa shavings, anise, sassafras, liquorice, molasses, chicory, cigar smoke, and peat smoked malt. The 30yo barrels bring a load of sherry to this, turning it quite vinous, but also imparting honey-vanilla candied notes, furthering the smokiness, and adding the trademark salty north island rugged coastal notes. I couldn't really taste the HP stamp on the 12 or the 16. I can honestly say I do here. Maybe it just takes 14 more years of barrel seasoning. The other two I thought needed an accompanying dram to be truly satisfying. I don't think that here, the whisky (or at least the sherry) is already present and accounted for, but as is always the case with Scotch, it doesn't hurt...I just don't think it adds anything, and quickly overpowers a glorious beer.
The mouthfeel is a rich medium, and as with the others, seems like it could support a somewhat larger beer, as this (again, similar to the others) thins as it travels through the mouth.
The other two I thought to be good, whereas this is special. None are cheap, but this one gets into the scary expensive realm. Considering that you get some real taste of a fairly rare $350+ whisky, it may oddly be the best bargain of the three.
11-04-2008 09:31:52 | More by cokes
4.1/5 rDev -3.8%
The best and the most expensive of the trio, all tried in a week. Pours black with small bubbly head. Aroma of whisky, a little bourbon. The taste is rich and complete, how would it be after a few more years?A unique ale with a whiskey character. Above average mouthfeel. Feels more "cooked" or complete than the previous two others.
Had on cask at Cole's and it was the clear winner of the festival. Big whiskey but great, above average mouthfee.
07-20-2008 03:56:08 | More by Sammy
3.63/5 rDev -14.8%
Served in a wine glass at Deep Ellum. This beer is very dark brown with absolutely no head.
Grapes and grape soda are upfront in the nose with some light molasses. Finishes with a prominent malt character.
Almost like drinking a red wine, a very similar except with a strong malt finish. Carbonation is non existent, a little would have been nice.
A good beer that I dont plan on revisiting again in the future unless more carbonation is a possibility. Cask is probably not the ideal way to drink this beer.
03-31-2009 05:54:06 | More by alovesupreme
4.9/5 rDev +15%
Normalish pour yields minimal orangey head that recedes into almost nothing, body is deep ruddy amber.
Nose is incredible, plenty of wood and peat, with some caramel. A scotch that smelled like this would be a nice one.
Taste is... amazing. Peaty, smoky, complex. This has truly absorbed the essence of the scotch casks in which it was aged. Torn between scotch and beer, why not choose both?
Mouthfeel is impossibly creamy; carbonation is imperceptible, but lends an extra substance and creaminess to the body.
Outstanding, scotchy, little more to be said. It's complex but defies adequate description in human languages. What more can I say?
05-11-2011 03:19:01 | More by zaphodchak
4.4/5 rDev +3.3%
12oz bottle, graciously shipped to me in a recent bif. available in stores here and quite pricey
bottle #16682 / Sept 07
appearance: sold in an individual box, bottle neck wrapped in black foil with a metal brewery medallion draped around the neck...poured into a snifter, jet black body, creamy chocolate cap and light-moderate retention...opaque and full of intrigue
smell: lovely smooth nose - well aged whisky, vanilla and oak tones provide a great compliment...creamy chocolate
taste: fascinating complexity - enough whisky is present to prevent you from forgetting the life of this great beer. full of oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel and a subtle but brilliant smokiness. this is so much better than the 16 in my eyes. chances are this will be the only time i ever have this (due to the price tag), but i'll certainly savor the experience
mouthfeel: creamy and rich, lingering whisky bite. absolutely not for the faint of heart - drinks like its nearly double the ABV it actually is
drinkability: tough - but great
06-14-2009 00:57:39 | More by dirtylou
4.65/5 rDev +9.2%
Bottle No. 21981
Bottle Date: Sept. 2007
A- The box the bottle comes in is first class and the bottle and label is top notch as well. Poured into a snifter. Pours a dark black color with a light tan head with great retention and lacing. Looks beautiful in the glass.
S- The aroma is absolutely fantastic. Wow! The aroma is sweet and slightly roasty with chocolate, molasses, brown sugar and peat. Smells delicious!
T- The taste like the aroma leaves me speechless. The taste starts out with some sweetness and roasted malts. The finish features some of the scotch flavors from the cask aging along with some warmth from the alcohol.
M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice thickness and the perfect amount of carbonation. Spot on.
O- Overall, I am a huge fan of barrel aged beers and this is one of the better crafted beers that I have tried. Highly recommended!
04-18-2011 02:38:16 | More by cjgator3
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 360 ratings.