Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

402 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 402
Reviews: 228
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.35%
Wants: 87
Gots: 91 | 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: rallison on 02-23-2008

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.
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Ratings: 402 | Reviews: 228
Photo of ptykozoon
2.9/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Lacing, no head. A very dark brown borderline black.

Cocoa, caramel, faint bourbon, oak, molasses, burnt offerings and just an overall sweetness.

Much more subdued than the scents. Bitter chocolate, coffee beans; all sort of watered down and not terrifyingly complex.

Decent mid-range mouthfeel density.

Nothing to write home about. Clearly not worth the price in my book.

Photo of Damian
3/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Drank from a boxed 11.2 FL OZ bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westboro, MA
BOTTLE No. & DATE: 15428/Sept 2007

Poured a rather thin looking brown/black color with a bubbly, one-finger, light tan head that faded to a lasting ring. Small, spotty drops of lacing stuck along the glass.

The aroma was quite unpleasant initially, as the oxidative notes were really overwhelming. The first thing that came to mind was "wet dog." As the beer warmed however, the aroma improved considerably. The nose turned semi-sweet with notes of brown sugar and maple syrup. Whiskey, oak and molasses were apparent as well, along with a hint of smoke. Frankly, I have never seen such a dramatic change in the aroma of a beer.

The flavor profile was thin overall with the oxidative notes once again dominating. Malty and woody up front. Very acrid. Roasted malts and whiskey came through in the center. The finish was hugely acrid, bitter and surprisingly hoppy with the oxidative notes becoming even stronger. Whiskey was also apparent (a touch hotter than expected). The lingering aftertaste was quite oaky and dry.

The mouthfeel was super thin and watery with a fine, yet intense carbonation. Airy and light on the palate.

Drinkability was average. This beer was low on overall flavor yet quite acrid (and bitter). Furthermore, the 8% ABV was rather apparent (I would have guessed it to be around 9-10%).

This beer was a real disappointment overall, especially when considering its $15.95 price tag. Highly overrated in my opinion.

Photo of mhaugo
3.06/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle decanted into a snifter. 8.0% ABV. Served at 55F and allowed to elevate to room temperature.

Appearance: The color of a deep porter. No head, virtually no carbonation. Visually, it lives up to the name “Black Oil” (3.75/5).

Aroma: Sweet whisky, oak, and damp mustiness. Molasses and licorice. Very rich and interesting (4/5).

Taste: Very dry and oaky. Nicely attenuated. Smoky and charred. But fairly one dimensional. It’s like drinking a nice whisky, but after the tumbler has been sitting out for a while and all the ice has melted. Where’s the beer flavor in this beer?
(2.5/5).

Mouthfeel: Thinner than expected. Flat and heavy on the tongue. A lingering astringency from the wood (2.75/5).

Overall: Well… this was kind of a letdown. For almost $20, I would have expected something that tasted more like beer and less like diluted whisky. Too thin, too woody, too little like beer (3/5).

Photo of jwinship83
3.11/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle that comes in a box drank out of my samuel adams perfect pint glass. this is my first time trying any of these ola dubh beers. this was a christmas gift from a non BA. bottled in mid 2009.

A- this one pours out of the bottle a completely opaque black colored body with little to speak of as far as a head goes. only a tiny crown. no lacing is left behind.

S- the first thing i can pick up in the nose are dark roasted malts and smoke. pretty stout like. there is also a distinct fine whiskey odor that is pretty strong. the evidence of being in a barrel (vanilla/oak) is harder to pick up.

T- the taste starts out with dark roasted malts and whiskey and quickly opens up to a smoky, peaty, whiskey-like beer. there are some of the typical fruits youd expect from an old ale (raisin, plum, cherry), as well as a little bit of the vanilla/oak from the barrel. a little bit of coffee at the end.

M- the mouthfeel is a little light for something like this. the alcohol shows too much for something of this strength. the carbonation is really low, which i liked.

D- this was a gift, so i didnt have to spend any money on it. at the same time i know that its about $16 a bottle. i dont see myself ever dropping that kind of coin on this. glad to have tried it. its something ive always wondered about. id love to try it on tap or cask.

Photo of pmarlowe
3.12/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at O'Brien's.

Looks deep brown, no head or bubbles except for a razor thin ring. Smells like thick grape juice, slightly peaty and some dry oak. Like a peaty version of Welch's. Taste is mostly raisin and plum, again some smoke/peat, scotch, and leather. Pretty dry overall. Mouthfeel is medium body, flat, but at least no alcohol is noticeable. Overall, not a bad beer but pretty one note, and the flatness really limits the drinkability. I would pass on this if offered again.

Photo of IronDjinn
3.23/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Comes in a fancy black box, the bottle itself has black foil around the cap and neck, a little medallion hanging from underneath the foil. Pours out an intense dense opaque black, quick splash of creamy loose mocha head.

Immediate aroma of sweet raisins, green grapes and apple juice, along with earthy wood and sweet alcohol. Enjoyable except for the apple juice character which stands out and seems out of place.

A far cry from the beauty of the 18 Reserve, the flavour is thinner, milder and far more subtle in comparison. Mild wood and alcohol up front, earthy carob and cocoa builds in the middle, spicy warm alcohol on the finish blending with more cocoa into a long-lingering yet mild aftertaste.

For the price and the final product a bit of a let-down, especially in comparison to the Reserve 18 and 12. Pretty easy drinking considering the strength of it, but still too shy for the style as well. A sad pass on this one, there is better from this brewery to explore and discover.

Photo of kojevergas
3.31/5  rDev -22.1%
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-

Photo of Reagan1984
3.35/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

With an aggressive pour into my snifter glass I get about a ½ finger of tan foam.. This fades almost immediately. The beer is a dark brown color with lots of light getting through. No lacing in the glass.

Aroma is of oak, peat and of course, scotch.

Well, if you enjoy scotch you'll be pleased with this beer. If you are really in the mood for a beer, you may be looking for your next bottle. Lots of peat and oak. Very dry finish.. Could use a touch of sweetness to round out the flavor.

Dry on your tongue and a touch thin. The slightest carbonation.

It's ok, but the dryness wears on me.

Photo of laituegonflable
3.36/5  rDev -20.9%
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.

Photo of alcstradamus
3.38/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A--Pours black with a thin layer of head, although I poured into a 25 oz. snifter so that was definitely a factor

S--Whiskey, chocolate, toffee. This one smells a little hot, kind of burns the nose. I hope the taste is more balanced.

T--The palate definitely is more balanced, the flavor actually is not near as bold as I was expecting. Nice blend of whiskey and toasted malts, not a whole lot else though.

M--Medium bodied, a little too thin maybe for this type of beer

D--This just didn't interest me too much. I'm glad I only bought two because at the $13 price tag I would have been very upset if I had bought more.

Photo of mtomlins
3.4/5  rDev -20%
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!!

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.41/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque, dark brown body capped by a small, bubbly, tan-hued head.

Smell: Wafts of smoke and spirits with a scent of dark malts and minor notes of old wood and peat contributed from the barrel aging.

Taste: Earthy, smoky chocolate flavor with not more than a hint of malt sweetness. Fire-charred dark fruits. Exceptionally drying wood component with, regrettably, only a thin taste of peaty scotch. Minor return of the dark malts, but they've got to contend with the unceasingly wooden taste. Dash of still mineral water. Finishes dry and somewhat abrupt.

Mouthfeel: As with the bottle of 12-Year I had previous, the beer just doesn't quite reach medium-bodied. Medium-low, soft carbonation. A tad lifeless.

Drinkability: Not unpleasant, but, for me, it comes up a bit short in terms of both body and flavor. The only really stirring part of the Ola Dubh experience is the jarring price tag.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.57/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. Bottle #10696, bottled Sept. 2007. I looked up how much the 30 year costs and the cheapest was just north of $300. And to think I thought this bottle of beer was expensive at $14.99.

3.5 A: Black color. Just over a finger of frothy light brown head. Retention was mediocre and no lacing was left. I gave this an extra half point since it's getting rather old.

4.0 S: The base beer delivers roastiness and a hint of chocolate. Nothing too crazy. The whiskey, however, is enchanting. So well integrated that it smells silky. Coffee, creme, caramel, oak, vanilla - creme brulee basically. Light well tanned leather. Almost flowery with melon, peach, and apple fruits.

3.5 T: Taste is much like the nose. The base beer is just there to facilitate the barrel aging. Roastiness is the main contributor. The reason that this doesn't score as well as the nose is because the whiskey is less intense in the taste. Still, there's some vanilla, oak, and leather, but much less of everything else.

3.0 M: Wimpy light to lighter medium body. Carbonation is good for how old it is. Reasonably creamy for how light it is.

3.5 D: This suffers from the same problem that 50/50 does. The base beer is weak and the barrel aging is forced to carry the product. However, in this case, the bourbon seems to have faded a lot from the taste. Oh well. I'd love to try this fresh.

Photo of Cavery
3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Small bottle shared with Klym, poured into Stone Nonic.

A: Retro pen ink with a slightly off-white filmy ring head. A speckled constellation of lacing that disappears like stars in the wee hours of the morning. The film really seems to last, at least in terms of maintaining the ring formation. Completely opaque, no light is getting through the black void.

S: Dark fruits with a bit of a barbecue character. Barbecued (or at least seasoned/dry-rubbed) figs and charred medjool dates really come forward. Spices touch on a light offering of nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, and peppercorns. A strong whiskey sweetness penetrates through the subtleties to create a challengingly spicy/boozy finish. Smells like quite a refined offering indeed.

T: Really sweet barrel character with no heat at all. There really is a lack of alcohol that is a bit perplexing. The barrel is totally apparent, and the sweetness well integrated; but alcohol escapes the flavor. Dark barbecue oaky-wood chips without too much smokiness, and sweet charred tomatoes There's just this generic-charred sweet fruits aspect that is notable; but at the same time a bit vague. Specific notes take a backseat to the process of brewing this beer.

M: A really typical barrel beer mouth feel with an ephemeral sizzle. There's a bit of a hole in this beer here, and it's illuminated by the mouth feel. There are a lot of very good to great beers that have this same mouth feel; but where that unbelievable flavor would be exists a bit of a whole. A standard solid mouth that survived the barrel, but also points out the short comings of the flavor.

O: I think the mouth is a very revealing part of this beer. There was an aspect to it that I couldn't quite figure out, until I focused on the mouth. This beer is akin to a block of Swiss cheese; it seems to be the work of an artisan, but there are some holes and gaps. There is a canvas here for great pronounced flavors. However, they never really seem to come. There is a bit of a buildup in the nose and initial taste, but a bit of a weak follow through. Noticeably, there is a gap in the middle. Coincidentally, this reminds me a great deal of British food. While I love peas and potatoes; I could never stomach those vinegary mashed peas they serve with their deliciously rustic potatoes. It somehow leaves the overall feel of this beer to be incomplete.

Photo of thebigredone
3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Well, I'll dumb my review down on this as I'm not sure this bottle was in prime shape.

My major problem with this was the cherry/red fruit flavor that while not prominent, completely distracted my palate. I'm not sure if this was beginning to show signs of infection or what, but there was definitely an off flavor.

Without the off infected/cherry flavor, I think this would have been an excellent beer. The oak/chocolate/peat flavors seemed to play well together. Body is a bit thin, but not too shabby.

Would gladly try this again to see if I had some better luck.

Photo of BeerStine
3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle #0667 in Spet 2007.

Pours pitch black with a moderate almond head that dissipates quickly. Smells of sweet malts and bourbon barrels. Taste is a dark charcoal taste. The sweet smell does not really come out in the flavor. I think the hops come out much more in this beer when compared to other dark beers. Mouthfeel is medium to light with little carbonation. Drinkablilty is good. I could drink a few of these.

Overall it was a good beer. Nothing special here; nothing to justify a $16 11.2 oz bottle anyway. I don't know if some of the intensity has mellowed over the 2 years since its bottling...

Photo of alovesupreme
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Klym
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a stone nonic.

A: Like a dark date, black with translucent brown parts. A slightly browned head sits on top and leaves a very slow dripping curtain of lacing.

S: Fig, brown sugar, and a whiskey like spirit to the scent. I typically don't like the whole fig/raisin taste profile so much (part of the reason why I stay away from some UK beers) but this one is coming through pretty rich and well spiced/brown sugared. I'm liking this. Could visualize a date and fig mix covered in a little clove, coriander, some brown sugar and sizzling on top of a skillet in a small layer of whiskey when I whiff this.

T: Spice takes a larger part of the taste than in the nose. I expected some warming heat and while I get a little in the throat and chest honestly I get some good whiskey character yet with almost zero heat or alcohol in taste. Pretty solid flavors but I admit I preferred the more roast/chocolate character of the earlier numbers.

M: I always applaud the UK beers I've had for their great mouthfeel. The carbonation and body is very nice on this and gives a good platform for everything else going on in the beer. Appropriate to style and the beer itself.

O: I really would reach for 12 & 16 again but not sure I'd reach for this twice. Beer didn't seem super dynamic, and while well-rounded and balanced what it was rounding and balancing was a little emptier than I would hope or expect given 12 & 16. I still would say this is worth a shot though. If you have access to this grab it, but to do it justice it might be worth checking out the rest of the special reserves too. I'm curious to see what 40 is like.

Photo of Jonada
3.7/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

11.2 oz Bottle #4456. Bottled June 2013. Served in a Tired Hands Teku glass

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, nearly black, with little to no head, save for a very thin light tan collar. Body is opaque.

Smell: Caramel, rich chocolate, oak, peat, slight meaty smoke. Nice but not very intense.

Taste: Scotch, dark chocolate, peat, caramel like sweetness. Whiskey cask aging really makes itself known in the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, somewhat thin mouthfeel. Carbonation is low.

Overall: A good beer, but a little disappointing. I had high expectations for this, and while there's nothing wrong with it, there seems to be something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. Glad I got to try it, but at ~$15 per 11.2 oz bottle, I won't be getting it again.

Photo of phantomwyse
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Mobile 1 with an effervescent head.

S: Vanilla, cocoa powder, coffee, oaked scotch, chocolate covered raisins.

T: Italian roast coffee that's been brewed for a while, truffles, and of course, some mellow scotch character -- which is entangled with a bit of vanilla. At the end, there's some subdued alcohol lingering.

M: Slightly viscous and leaves a milky coating. No carbonation.

D: Flavorful and enjoyable, but not a multiple beer brew.

I've been enjoying my boxed beer discoveries as well as beers aged in a variety of whiskey barrels, so I was excited for this offering. However, I was a bit disappointed. I was anticipating a more pronounced scotch flavor that just never came together. A highly touted beer that I'm not sure is worth commanding the high price.

Photo of Lothore
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep black with a small, caramel head which fades slowly.

S- Smell consists of hints of caramel, chocolate malt and an intense sweetness.

T- Taste is very balanced, toffee, butterscotch, bits of roasted malt and hints of whisky towards the end.

M- Medium bodied with very little carbonation.

D- I really didn't taste as much whisky in this as everyone makes it out to contain. It is good and well balanced but perhaps a bit overated in my opinion. This was pushing the border towards imperial stout and I wish they would have toned back the roastiness a bit and let the old ale aspects shine through more.

Photo of bobhits
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

hmm this is really great beer but it isn't 14 bucks a bottle type beer. There isn't amazingly strong or complex flavors. More of a subtle and complex flavor. This doesn't come off to me as nearly as thick or creamy as the 12 year. DOn't get me wrong this is very smooth and has a great flavor, but I could spend 8 bucks and get a 6 pack of beer with just as much flavor.

The thing that blows me away is that I'm not picking up much other than some suble oak flavors from these barrels. I know 30 year scotch is smooth, but come on? Where's the vanilla, boozey undertones, woods, ect?

This beer goes down like a sam adams which is great unless again...it's a 14 dollar 11.2 oz bottle of beer. I'm taking off points as I expect a sipper from a very expensive high alcohol beer and this one wants you to almost chug it.

It has a lot of roasted and malt flavor in it. It's more of a stout/old ale than a barrel aged beer. That isn't a bad thing, but I was hoping for a bit more scotch to come through in here and I was definitely hoping it would be thicker and more flavorful than the 12. Ultimately I think the 12 is the better beer. This is an example of a beer getting overrated based on the price tag without a question.

If it were a 3-4 bucks a bottle my score might be better, but honestly this is a solid beer with a price tag that claims it is one of the best out there. Worth trying if you can find it for a cheap price or split it with a friend.

Photo of 4000qtrap
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Source/Serving: Draft

Smell: Dominated by sour cherry and sour grape notes. Strangely reminiscent of being in a field of ripe berries. A hint of farm fresh unsweetened grape juice. A touch of chocolate appears as the beer warms.

Taste: Incredibly wine like. Roasted, chocolately grains hit the palette first and are the only beer-like quality present. A sour, powerfully dry wood flavor appears next - which while not grapelike - is just like a dry red wine (Now I read that its aged in whisky barrels....that explains it). There are some ripe fruit flavors and a sharp, mostly tannin but slightly grassy, bitterness. This beer is not remotely sweet. Its drinkability was laborious.... It's a intense beer that really pushes the boundaries towards wine-like flavors and I'm not a big wine fan, unfortunately. However, I respect their intention. As the beer warms up a slight sweetness emerges in the form of fruit syrup.

Notes: Amazingly wine-like. Very unusual. Well balanced, complex flavors.

Photo of FreshHawk
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark cola black with some dark brown hues on the edges. Large, very thick, creamy, frothy beige head. Good retention that finally reduces to a nice, thick, creamy layer of lacing.

S - Heavy whisky aroma with peat and some smoke. Also a fair amount of dark malt with a bit of chocolate and roasted, burnt barley with a touch of burnt oat. Overall, it has some basic stout like aroma in the background with the whisky aroma upfront.

T - A touch of dark fruit, cherry, raisin, and date, with some roasted dark malt and barley initially. This is quickly overtaken by a strong peat and smokey taste. More whisky and barrel flavors come out mid sip. The finish still has the strong whisky presence, but some more dark fruit, chocolate, licorice, tobacco, and earthiness comes out. There is a touch of mineral flavor toward the end as well. At first it was very heavy on the whisky flavor, but after sitting out for a little while, the other flavors came out a bit more and the whisky flavors smoothed out a bit.

M - Medium, starting to head toward full, body with low carbonation (which works for the flavors). Very smooth and slick with a slight drying finish that sticks around the mouth.

D - It was a little heavy on the barrel and whisky flavors for me to consider it all that drinkable. It gets to be a little heavy on the palate. However the smoothness and mix of flavors does make it an enjoyable sipper.

Notes: Bottle # 21780 bottled on Jan. 2009. Didn't really remind me of an Old Ale, as it had some stout like flavors and a lot of whisky/barrel flavors. Made a decent sipping beer to close off a night. Glad I got to try this, but the barrel flavor was a little heavy on this, which isn't in itself a bad thing, but it covered up too much of the flavor of the beer. I enjoyed it, but probably won't get it again, especially considering the price.

Photo of JMBSH
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Rounding out the last of the Ola Dubh Special Reserve series is the 30 year. Bottled September 2007 with a bottle number of 7220, I have to say that the 12 month tasted better. This one is like the others in a lot of ways. The color a nice dark ruby to almost black. Light to no carbonation to be seen with a head that goes away quickly.The scent of whisky/oak is there but is actually lighter then the others in the series. This time the sweetness seems closer to raisins then the other with molasses. You can taste the whisky mostly on the back of the tongue and back of the throat. A very nice beer but the 12 month is my favorite.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 402 ratings.