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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

331 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 331
Reviews: 218
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: 10.54%

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)
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Ratings: 331 | Reviews: 218 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of pmarlowe

District of Columbia

3.1/5  rDev -27.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-15-2011 21:13:27 | More by pmarlowe
Photo of 4000qtrap


3.75/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2010 03:29:32 | More by 4000qtrap
Photo of Travlr

District of Columbia

4.65/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was afraid of this beer at first, but my fear turned out to be unfounded.
Appearance was jet black with giant tan bubbles that rapidly settled.
Aroma reminded me of a single malt whisky.
Taste had very light smoke, some wood, a bit of caramel, and a finish of Lagavulin. Amazing progression, with the whisky flavor only at the very end.
Would like to lay a bottle or two down for a year and see what happens.

Serving type: on-tap

11-14-2009 00:47:11 | More by Travlr
Photo of ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

4.63/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at Cole's in Buffalo, a real rarity and glad I got the chance to try it.

Midnight black on arrival, touch of thin lace, pretty still but enough carbonation for the style.

Nose is truly majestic. Smooth, creamy vanilla, roasting malts, a hint of chocolate and woodiness.

Taste is really not too far behind. Vanilla, roasting malts, just a touch of bitter chocolate, slight earthiness, ridiculously smooth drinking. Creamy mouthfeel, a true sipper.

This is a really well done beer but truly a nightcap/sipper. Even a 12oz bottle would be a real stretch for the most ardent of drinkers, it being so rich and luxurious. A treat for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

09-28-2009 15:27:39 | More by ritzkiss
Photo of bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4.85/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Apparently this cost a staggering $475 for a keg, and I'm lucky that Cole's ponied up the cash to give me the opportunity to try this on a rare tap outing.

Ola Dubh 30 pours a midnight black, and its tan head quickly dies down to the thinnest of collars. It looks like engine oil or the depths of Satan's soul. The nose is just ridiculously smooth. Strong scotch aromas of wood, vanilla, chocolate, smoked malt, peat and alcohol make love to my nose. Its a beer you could smell for a long time and never really tire of.

Wow. There's a lot of roast malt, which would otherwise have created a fantastic beer in of itself, but the overlay just elevates this to a whole new level. Vanilla and chocolate add a great smoothness. Smoke and earth bring depth, and the wood compliments every flavour from start to finish. This is how barrel-aging should be done! Its more akin to drinking a top-notch scotch than anything I've come across that isn't a top-notch scotch. All of these flavours are boosted by the creamy, smooth body, with its minimal carbonation and luxurious mouthfeel.

I'm blown away.

As a cross-reference, here's what I've thought of the other Ola Dubh's I've had:
Ola Dubh 12 - light barrel character with the flavours from the base beer far more evident (4.1)
Ola Dubh 40 - huge scotch character, complimented by chocolate and caramel, smooth and warming (4.65)

Serving type: on-tap

09-28-2009 15:12:28 | More by bobsy
Photo of athensbeermaster


4.9/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I found this on tap at Beachwod BBQ @ Seal Beach.
The bartender poured this beer the right way. A good two-three finger head dark tan in color with a dense body with huge head retention. The nose had a big aroma of a very nice bourbon. The Taste starts with a dark roasted coffee flavor that quickly fades into a big juicy dark plums and black cherry fruit mid palate. The finish ends with a smoky sweet caramel note. Wow what a great day this was thanks to the people who brewed this gem.

Serving type: on-tap

06-25-2009 04:45:27 | More by athensbeermaster
Photo of bhalter8


4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Brick Store in Decatur and was lucky enough to have 2 glasses (since I ended up liking it so much). Took down some notes for review, both pours produced a thin, but dense tan colored head. This beer is ink black, I was surprised, probably should not have been, by how dark this beer is, no light at all. It is a beautiful beer, really. The smell is also intense, the scotch is prominent, with a sweet, malty background. I must admit, though, the smell is almost all scotch, never smelled a beer like that before. Smell carries through to the taste, the scotch flavor is strong, but in a good way, as it does not end up too bitter. The scotch adds a smoked oak aspect to the beer. There is a fair amount of carbonization, for the style, I thought. In the end, a solid and drinkable, given its character, old ale.

Serving type: on-tap

01-25-2009 02:31:29 | More by bhalter8
Photo of bonbini26

New Jersey

4.75/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

on tap @ the blind tiger in NYC


appearance- dark, nice creamy head that fades quickly

smell- best way to describe it, it smells like an irish car bomb, def. notes of whiskey barrels

taste- so many, sweet, roasted, vanilla, toffee, coffee, whiskey barrel

mouthfeel- o man when i had this in my mouth i didnt wanna swallow it, so nice.

drinkability- i could sip one of these all day

if you are have access to this beer this is not one to miss

Serving type: on-tap

06-30-2008 17:40:02 | More by bonbini26
Photo of paytoplay


4.78/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at 2 differnet places. Aroma reminds me of a great rhone syrah if you give it about an hour or 2 in the glass. Tough as the temp tends to not be right when you enjoy the beer / wine. The most wine like beer I've ever had. Sensational aroma with complexity and debth that has to be tasted. Expensive as can be, yes. But undoubitly a great beer. I have a bottle that I'll age about 10 years. This is a killer beer.

Serving type: on-tap

06-22-2008 22:18:39 | More by paytoplay
Photo of FreightTrain


4.75/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Other people have written very nice detailed descriptions of the smell and appearance, so I'm not going to bother.

Basically, this beer tastes amazing. It has soft notes of scotch, a beverage I don't particularly enjoy, but I found it to be so mellow and woodsy and refined that it was completely delicious. Old Engine Oil was a good choice for this recipe: it's not a complex and/or aggressive stout and it thus serves as a great canvas for the scotch cask flavors. Stout flavors are still very much present but they're there for the synergy, which might surprise people looking for beer complimented by whisky rather than the two on approximately equal footing. The flavor lingered a long time on the palate, opening and changing as time went by. Ultimately I was left with the flavor of velvety roast chocolate all over the inside of my mouth. Absolutely phenomenal.

Yup, it's expensive, but it's pushing the boundaries of beer and it's really, really good.

Recommended as an after dinner drink, probably in the 5-6 oz. range.

Serving type: on-tap

06-12-2008 07:22:57 | More by FreightTrain
Photo of bbutler527

New York

4.6/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from tap in 25ml (10 ounce) goblet, pushed with g-mix.

A - Deep red/mahogany, almost totally opaque. Little to no carbonation. Surprisingly, almost no sugar lace cling to goblet. Not a flaw, but other beers look better.

S - As a fan of Single Malts, the aroma was just as expected. Smelled more alcoholic than it actually was.

T - If you're looking to quaff a beer, choose a different one. Each sip was like a shot, but in a good way. Many present thought that the ABV was around 11-12%. Obvious Single Malt presence with underlying notes of dark fruit.

M - Terrific on the palate. Slick and, as expected, best enjoyed one small sip at a time.

D - This is a finishing beer to follow after a fine meal. If this is available, skip the stuff on the rocks and have one of these.

This would be an enjoyable accompaniment to a roaring fire and a fine cigar.

Serving type: on-tap

05-16-2008 13:19:01 | More by bbutler527
Photo of charlzm


4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Consumed 04/27/08 at Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach CA.

Black, opaque beer with a thin but creamy, dense tan, long-lasting head.

Aroma is scotch. Nothing but scotch. Wow.

First flavor to hit the palate is a smooth, almost caramel malt flavor. Some subtle sweetness. Then comes the scotch. Lots of scotch. After the beer warms some, the scotch subsides and dark pitted fruits emerge. Mouthfeel is smooth and a little chewy.

A marvelously big and drinkable beer, due perhaps to the ABV being relatively low.

Serving type: on-tap

04-28-2008 16:59:39 | More by charlzm
Photo of nriech


4.9/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oh my! This one brought me out of my reviewing duldrums just because it was so intense.

On tap at the Midlothian Capital Ale House in VA. Only 9.50 for a good goblet pour. The aromas were so intense. The aromas were strong of good scotch and coffee. The tast was almost undescribable. This is the perfect balance between beer and actual alcohol. All of the great aromas and tastes from the best scotches, with the drinkability of a beer meld together here. If you find this, get it and dont look back. The whiskey flavors stay mellow and subdued, but never leave the pallate. I dont know what else to say, Im still hyped from drinking it. Thanks CAH for getting this one on tap!

Serving type: on-tap

04-25-2008 00:06:51 | More by nriech
Photo of mrkrispy


4.1/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at several decent joints here in San Diego. $10 for a small (8-10oz) pour, but I had to try it.

Good aromas of chocolate and malt, hint of coffee, a bit of alcohol.

Very good taste, a bit hot at first. Chocolate again, some toffee, the peat comes thru but isn't overpowering (probably due to the barrel aging). To me this seemed like a porter we get from a lot of local places, with some smokiness in the background. Lacking in the thick/sweetness of many other beers with a similar complex. Moderate carbonation.

Somewhat interesting, but I wouldn't pay for it again. If you are worried about budget there are many barreled beers far more complex and intriguing for less money. If you aren't, give it a try.

Serving type: on-tap

04-21-2008 01:48:13 | More by mrkrispy
Photo of Floydster


3.98/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

6.5 ounce flute glass at Beachwood BBQ for six dollars, drank this for dessert after my delicious meal, there were no tasters for this, so I decided to just get a glass and go out on a limb

A-Very dark brown that is almost black but has ruby red highlights towards the top when held up to to light, no head, retention, or lacing, flat

S-Tons of whiskey, red wine, port, oak, roasted malt, more booze, smokiness, vanilla, some chocolate, complex dark fruits, and scotch

T-Was expecting a big wine and strong whiskey flavor based on the aroma but that was not the case and the beer was actually more subtle than you would think, faint whiskey at the beginning, some sweet raisins and figs in the middle, finish has some booze but is mostly roastiness, over time it got more sweet and the whiskey came out a little more, slightly tart at times from the hard alcohol, interesting to say the least, did not expect it to be as complex after being in such old barrels

M-Dry, sweet, slightly hot, and roasted mouthfeel, thin body, absolutely no carbonation but that is not surprising after being in a cask that is three decades old, taste lingered

D-Could probably drink the twelve ounce bottle of this, relatively light for an old ale, only eight percent alcohol, goes down smooth for the most part, not overly boozy and hidden fairly well

I originally wanted to try this until I saw twelve ounce bottles for around eighteen dollars and never got to buying one, Gabe said this was the most expenisve keg he has ever bought, hard to resist yesterday when I sae this on the board, first beer from this brewery, very unqiue, probably the oldest barrel aged beer I have tasted, was not what I was expecting and turned out to be even better, would like to try again, recommended

Serving type: on-tap

04-15-2008 17:12:15 | More by Floydster
Photo of Halcyondays


3.88/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a very dark brown, with really no head, light carbonation.

S: Heavy whisky, peat fire, malt.

T: Very peaty, the aging in the beer makes it kind of difficult to find the flavour in the beer at first, very malty and sweet, light smoke character.

M: Very smooth, though it could have done with more carbonation, I know it's barrel aged, but it almost felt flat.

D: A tasty barrel aged beer in the end, though I think I expected a little more out of it, I would like to taste the other incarnations of the Ola Dubh brew.

Serving type: on-tap

04-13-2008 22:52:56 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of Jonada

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2014 01:32:41 | More by Jonada
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

3.85/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 00:04:39 | More by jrenihan
Photo of AussieAbroad

Ontario (Canada)

4.6/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Old Dubh 30th Anniversary

330 ml bottle purchased for $11.95 from LCBO

Bottled June 2013. Bottle #8124. Best before Jul. 2016

Aggressively poured into a snifter

A - Pitch, viscous black with no head and a small ring of lacing. Minimal carbonation is visible.

S - Rich, earthy, some spice, muted peat and smokiness, roasted malts and dark fruits. Notes of coffee and semi sweet chocolate.

T - Vanilla. chocolate and coffee notes. Complex and balanced. Barrel aging has smoothed this out. Sweet lingering finish.

M - Smooth and thin/medium bodied. No carbonation. Almost decadent richness to it. Slightly warming but no pronounced notes of 8% ABV.

O - Outstanding. Who needs Innis& Gunn! This is something special I’ll be seeking out again.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2014 02:04:31 | More by AussieAbroad
Photo of BradC


4.44/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured jet black from Bottle #1930 bottle June 2013. Little to no head or lacing.

Smells of peat, tobacco, alcohol

Tastes of peat, dark chocolate, scotch, a little bit of alcohol and then a touch of hop bitterness that lingers on the tongue

Silky smooth mouthfeel, with little to no carbonation.

Overall a complex tasting beer, was a gift from the wife and I'm glad I got it. It's been ahile since I've had regular Ola Dubh but I'll search some out now.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 02:41:06 | More by BradC
Photo of rjp217


4.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle date of January 2009 poured into a snifter.

A - Flat black, thin head that dissipates quickly, tiny blotches of lace

S - Smokey, peat, chocolate, spice, wood, roasted nuts, smoke-cured meat, ash

T - Scotch! Chocolate scotch. There's a thick smokiness mid palate that quickly smoothens.

M - Smooth feel, almost thin. A drying and smoke feel.

O - Unlike anything I have every tasted! Complexity as its finest. A smooth feel with a smokey body littered with scotch and chocolate. I received this as part of a wedding gift and so glad I did. A true hidden gem.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 00:20:44 | More by rjp217
Photo of beergoot


4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coal-black body with a thin, light tan head. Soft roasted grain aroma infused with a slight wine or whiskey scent; good chocolate and toffee character. Deep, rich chocolate malt and cocoa flavors; slight vanilla edge; hint of alcohol warmth. Thick, creamy, velvety mouthfeel.

The first sip produced an eye-rolling, palate pleasing ecstasy. Talk about depth and complexity, you've got it here. The appearance and aroma are pretty good, but the taste and feel will leave you with a goofy-ass smile of pleasure as your taste buds bathe in a dark malt wonderland. Further sips expand on the initial impressions with the revelation of slightly smokey and peaty malt flavors as well.

I bought this beer on a whim with no knowledge of what I might expect. This experience revealed a new a very delightful beer and brewery to me. Well worth seeking out.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2014 22:31:43 | More by beergoot
Photo of metter98

New York

4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short light tan head that quickly died down, leaving a collar consisting of large bubbles around the edge and some delicate lacing on the surface. The entire head eventually completely faded away.
S: Moderate aromas of smoked peat are present in the nose along with hints of dark chocolate. The smell becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Much like the smell, the taste has lots of flavors of peat that linger through the finish. Slight hints of bitter chocolate and toffee peek through in the middle of the taste.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. The beer really coats your mouth very well. Hints of warming from the whiskey are noticeable.
O: This beer is a lot smokier compared to the Reserve 18 and has an exceptional mouthfeel that has some smoothness and coats your entire mouth.

Note: Bottle No. 00430, June 2013

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2014 04:06:07 | More by metter98
Photo of thebigredone


3.6/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2013 16:13:56 | More by thebigredone
Photo of smakawhat


4.03/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Coming out of the bottle dark mahogany brown, settles in looks even black off the pour, but with closer inspection it has a dark walnut brown opaque body, and some nice red edges. Not much of a head, faint tan in color, but also quite bubbly and no retention and leaves a very large bubbled collar. Some minor legs, but also looks like it has dirty lacing around the edges.

Bouquet is quite fascinating, different, and unexpected. Mellow fruit, with a warmth of cherries and currants. Some dry roast character and soft bodied. Lots of oak and splintery salty sensations, not unlike soy sauce. Some black pepper but quite subdued. Oak really opens up on this as it warms.

Real interesting palate. Very light bodied, but a good silky quality. However, with time it becomes just a bit too thin but becomes easier to drink. Mellow light licorice and finishes with some dark bitter chocolate. With warmth the chocolate angle gets much more milky. Large oaky quality and full mouthfeel, particularly in the aftertaste. Salty character hinted on the nose doesn't come out on the palate which is probably a good thing. Fruity cherry and currants seem to be toned down than from what was hinted on the nose. Mild hints of piping store bought drip coffee. Chocolate angle seems to weaken over time.

Overall, quite fascinating, complicated, but also not one that really grabs my attention strangely enough. Even more so I get no sense that this comes from a Scotch barrel at all.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2013 00:24:34 | More by smakawhat
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 331 ratings.