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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.

332 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 332
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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Photo of drabmuh


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

My tour of the cask Ola Dubh series continues unabated thanks to the local beer guru at Churchkey in Washington D.C. This is the third out of Ola Dubh (40 and 18 already) that I have had on cask and I continue to review them.

Beer is served from the cask into a goblet. Beer is black wtih a big brown bubble head that disappears really quickly. No lacing (of course) and no carb that I can detect. I do not know when I caught the life of this cask. They were too busy for me to ask.

Aroma is beautiful and complex. Some alcohol, roast, wood. Second smell is more wood, some musk, a little vanilla and chocolate. Its so complicated, think of a fine wine or an aged whiskey when you drink this beer. Its barely beer.

This beer is silky smooth. There is some sweetness that is 100% alcohol, but there is also a ton of malt sweetness in there as well. There is an aftertaste and I can taste the musk, the chocolate and some roast back there. Nice body and good mouth connectivity. Drinkability high.

Out of the three that I have tried so far, 18, 30 and 40, the 40 remains my favorite on cask. The 18 is the worst IMO. This 30 was very similar to the 40 but I still like the 40 better. Just a few more and I'll have a complete set. Thanks Churchkey! Now bring on the 12 and the 16.

Serving type: cask

11-16-2009 18:20:49 | More by drabmuh
Photo of danadeny


4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brow body and a light brown head that lasts and lasts. Smells of rubbing alcohol, oak, nuttyness, coco, raw vanilla extract. Tastes very very mild and hides the alcohol well. A bit of milk chocolate on the front smooth through the middle then a kick of alcohol at the end. Mouthfeel is buttery smoth and low carbonation. Drinkability is just awesome.

Serving type: cask

07-10-2009 00:54:12 | More by danadeny
Photo of DefenCorps


4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On cask at Maxs.

Very dark brown with a brown head. Good retention, some lacing. Smoky on the nose with molasses, brown sugar, whisky and a little chocolate. The palate opens up with a lot of delicious whisky behind which there's chocolate, nuts, smoke and peat. There's a slight nut-skin like astringency that I like. Finishes dry, smoky and a little hot. A definite sipper.

Serving type: cask

06-26-2009 13:26:47 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.75/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on cask, gravity poured, at the Brick Store Pub. I've had this on-tap and in the bottle as well, but the cask version is far and away the best version. Pours black with little head other than a thin ring. The aroma has some nice whisky in it, and smells pure and balanced with subtantial rounded malt, but dry and roasty with a pleasant grainy smell. Slightly oaky and peaty, but these underscore the rest rather than dominate. Tastes extremely smooth and silky, like chocolate milk laced with whisky. Woody, treacly, dry, peaty, and rounded in parts. Sublimely balanced, and the whisky is at just the right degree of mellowness. Super smooth and a wonderful, wonderful sipper.

Serving type: cask

05-05-2009 02:27:14 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of tai4ji2x


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

on cask at deep ellum, in allston, MA, on march 20, 2009. (a little excursion during the NERAX festivities...)

served in generic wine glass

nearly opaque, thick, brown with red tint under the light. bubbly ring fades to almost nothing. no lace.

aroma of roasted burnt caramel, smoke hint from whisky and oak. coffee note. caramel maltiness has hint of raisin. maybe a trace of hop under all that roast and whisky.

taste: roast and whisky again. peaty smoke hint, into a coffee and roasted/charred malt bitterness and touch of grassy hop, though barely detectable. trace of vanilla in the woody oak. maybe starting to oxidize however. (the cask was tapped four days prior.) coffee finish. slightly boozy.

syrupy feel with tannic and acidic astringency in the finish. minimal carbonation gives lift in the body and flavor.

ok, but not too easy to drink another one. maybe this one was getting stale...

Serving type: cask

05-04-2009 10:27:20 | More by tai4ji2x
Photo of JohnQVegas


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

Cask @ Beer Table, Brooklyn.

Pours black with a small tan to off-white head.

Aroma is vanilla, oak, bit of chocolate.

Taste is vanilla, chocolate, roasted malt, smoke and oak, just a touch of peaty acidity. smooth, no edges, very mellow -- takes its time showing off its different facets. There's definitely a complexity here, the flavors don't tend to be muddled, but rather tend to separate a bit during the tasting process. Mouthfeel is oily, appropriate to the name, slick, matches the smooth body perfectly. A bit of bittersweet and roasted bitterness in the finish, along with lingering remnants of the tastes of vanilla and chocolate, smoke and oak. Wonderful beer.

Mouthfeel is silky and fantastic, gently fluffy, subtle. Exceptional.

Serving type: cask

04-09-2009 19:00:15 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of alovesupreme


3.63/5  rDev -15%
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.

Serving type: cask

03-31-2009 05:54:06 | More by alovesupreme
Photo of Stimack

New York

4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was able to give this one a try last evening on cask while visiting Mahars. This brew was probably just about the most expensive brew I have had but a real treat. Pulled to a deep black color, like looking into a inkwell. The head color was a medium brown with pretty good retention. The aroma was a mixture, scotch, chocolate, smoky, and slightly burnt malt. This brew really had a potpourri of aromas, it seemed that I was able to pick up different properties through out, all of them very nice. The flavors are also very nice, a little different than the nose as some flavors showed up more than in the nose. The first thing that I noticed was the whisky-permeated barrels really gave a strong scotch presence in this one, at least for me. Oak flavor comes out which was nice, good accompanying flavor. Nice smoky flavor, not over bearing, at the tail end, which really wrapped this one up nicely. The malts really seemed to be the base, with great flavors, and the scotch, oak and smoky flavors really adding a complexity to this beer that I have never had before. Wonder if this one would be as good in the bottle or if the cask just added to the good properties?

Serving type: cask

03-19-2009 13:39:15 | More by Stimack
Photo of aerozeppl

New York

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

A: Poured an absolutely jet black with absolutely no light getting through at all. Nice tight off white bubbles. A gorgeous cask pour.

S: Just a wonderful nose. A nice mixture of the barrel and the malt. Tons of roasted malt and chocolate. The whiskey comes through so nicely. Incredibly balanced with no booziness.

T: The taste was like nothing else I have ever had. The cask and the beer were meant for each other. It was like chocolate and whiskey but not in a disgusting way. Hints of oak with a touch of vanilla thrown in. A little bit of peaty smoke thrown in for good measure.

M: Luxurious. So smooth. God I love me a good cask beer.

D: When I drank this out of the bottle I thought to myself damn I wish I could get the opportunity to try this on cask. Thanks to Mahar's I finally got the opportunity. I would say to travel through the night for the chance to try this beer on cask.

Serving type: cask

03-18-2009 20:47:09 | More by aerozeppl
Photo of PhillyStyle


4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask (firkin) at Brick Store Pub

A - Black with no head. The beer looked thick.

S - Smokey, peaty/earthy, whisky aroma was dominated with the malt trying to make its presence known.

T - At first I got a heavy whisky flavor when first served, slightly chilled. But as the beer warmed up it mellowed out and the flavors really blended well together and the beer became even more enjoyable. Nice malt flavor with a little sweetness and earthy flavor.

M/D - Heavy/full bodied, but smooth and like the 12 yr, way to easy to drink. No carbonation to speak of and a very dry finish. I could have had many more. Overall, a very good beer and one that I hope to enjoy again, but I prefer the 12 yr as the whisky was not as overpowering.

Serving type: cask

02-17-2009 20:57:41 | More by PhillyStyle
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.43/5  rDev -19.7%
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.

Serving type: cask

02-04-2009 00:54:50 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of Nickls

District of Columbia

4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Deep dark black, with hints of brown and was poured with a finger of an almost creamy looking head

S - As anticipated, the whiskey aromas are the main feature in the aroma, but some really solid earthy aromas like garden mulch/wood chips. Really interesting stuff

T - Deep and smoky whiskey flavors, malt backing and salty/savory flavors with just a bit of chocolate (amazing and complex stuff)

M - With other vintages, not nearly as heavy as expected. A little viscous

D - Very high for me given the complexity. Easy to sip on over a good long period, but it's not the most drinkable brew of all time or anything.

Overall, very interesting vintage and excellent brew. Definitely recommend

Serving type: cask

02-01-2009 20:20:18 | More by Nickls
Photo of wescj


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

This cask was tapped at Aromas in Athens, GA on 12/8/08. Was served a half pint in a pint glass.

Color is a solid black, fringing on dark brown. Very much like molasses. There's a half inch of bubbly, khaki colored head. Not much retention, but what's left of it leaves a pretty sticky lace.

Smells scotchy, with some undeniable peate. There's also some vanilla and roasted malts, such as chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits as well.

Initially, it tastes like there's a decent amount of scotch actually in the beer. The initial flavor makes me question whether there is actually a boozy presence on the palate, or if the seemingly strong alcohol taste is simply deriviative of the whisky. Give it a second sip, and some complexity chimes in: roasted malts (again, chocolate and coffee), some woody notes, and a touch of sweetness. Ends on a smoky note, which leaves a mildly dry aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Light carbonation.

This beer isn't "drinkable" in the sense that Budweiser uses the word. It's definitely a sipping beer, and the 8oz I was served was more than enough. That said, the beer does go down pretty easy after the palate warms up to it. Excellent beer, all around.

Serving type: cask

12-09-2008 04:02:52 | More by wescj
Photo of Proteus93


4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 'rare firkin' as part of Beer Geek Week at the Capital Ale House in Richmond. Presented in a Three Philosophers chalice.

A: Opaque black, a sandy and creamy topping of head. Nice stick, recedes back to a bubbly coating.

S: Notes of chocolate and vanilla, deep scent of the whiskey barrels. Some soft dark fruit aromas - primarily date or perhaps plum. All of the aromas are subtle and not overwhelming. A wonderful medley, and very pleasant to go over and over.

T: Deep roasted malts, dark chocolate, and the woodiness and scotch flavours providing a fumey alcohol touch (a scotch I may have to try, for that matter). Rich and full, quite an excellent beer.

M: Minimal carbonation, as the serving style will offer. A creamy, medium-heavy body.

D: Though the alcohol is certainly there, it's modest and blends well with the other flavours. An excellent evening sipper, and I'll need to go out of my way to pick up some more

Serving type: cask

08-29-2008 21:36:27 | More by Proteus93
Photo of cs45977


4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this on a cask that had been tapped about 5 days prior.

Appearance - Very Dark black with a very slight lacing.

Smell - I noticed multiple fragrances throughout the tasting. Black Licorice, Maple, Coffee, Toffee and Rum were the most prevalent.

Taste - Started with a strong alcohol (scotch like) and moved to toffee, with a lingering coco or coffee flavor.
The complexity did chance as the sample warmed up.

Mouthfeel - This came to me on cask so there was almost no carbonation. The mouthfeel reminded me of typical British Real Ales not too much body as to become overly heavy nor solight as to make you forget you are drinking a malted beverage (sorry to be so vague).

Drinkability - at a $7.00/4 oz glass this is a geeks beer.
The complexity would be best appreciated by someone interested in analyzing different styles. I think all but the most enthusiastic beer lovers would find this a challenging beer.

Serving type: cask

05-27-2008 02:17:46 | More by cs45977
Photo of DaggerEyes

New York

4.53/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured motor oil black with an extremely thin dark tan head, that crowns the edges of the glass.

Nose is of Pete, coffee bean, black licorice, bourbon soaked cherries and a little bit of vanilla

Petey taste, a little smokey, with a bit of coffee

Excellent mouthfeel, velvety, silky, unbelievably smooth, a slight hint of carbonation gives it a wonderful texture

While a truly wonderful beer and must drink (especially on cask if you ever find it) I can honestly say that I couldn't drink much more than the 6 oz pour I received at Spuyten Duyvil, it's just TOO rich for much more than that, and that is the only reason the drinkability is not higher. But wow what a treat.

Serving type: cask

05-03-2008 14:16:13 | More by DaggerEyes
Photo of ruckzuck


4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At BSP the other afternoon. Good times were had.

A - opaque, dark, hints of brown at the top around the edges when held up to light, no head really

S - Scotch (really!?), roasted malt, dark chocolate. The Scotch aroma was truly enjoyable and definitely something new for me in a beer

T - dark chocolate and roasted malt with hints of the whisky coming through. Again, a real treat

M - medium bodied, incredibly smooth, little carbonation to speak of

D - wow, this was really great, and out of a cask no less! Thanks, Dave. Definitely could've done more than 1 glass of this, but I had stuff to do later in the evening. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on it!

Serving type: cask

04-19-2008 20:17:50 | More by ruckzuck
Photo of gford217


4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask at the Brickstore. Thanks Dave!

A: Poured black with a minimal bubbly head that dissipated immediately leaving no lacing.

S: Whiskey was very evident in the smell with a bit of chocolate, caramel and vanilla. Mostly scotch.

T: Chocolate comes through in the taste with the whiskey actually a little less evident than in the smell.

M: This was fairly light for the style though very smooth. Creamy with very little carbonation and a boozy scotch aftertaste.

D: This was decent for an old ale though a bit on the light side. The scotch certainly added a nice complexity to it.

Serving type: cask

04-16-2008 02:16:05 | More by gford217
Photo of sleazo

New York

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

A_very dark brown and slightly cloudy. Small very foamy head has some staying power and leaves a nice halo of beer

S_slightly raisiny with a good bit of funk

T_alcohol presence really hidden here. Nice ammount of raisins and fig notes to go with a slight cocoa flavour. No alcohol is really noticeable. On the sweeter side for the most part but not overly so. There is a good ammount of dryness which gives a good counterbalacne to the sweet side. I dont really get too much out and out whiskey, there is a nice mellow peat and a bit of smoke lurking in the background.

M_smooth creamy and rich. Perfect mouthfeel. This goes down unbelievably easy for an 8% beer.

D_wow. Top notch beer. Absolutely delicious.

Serving type: cask

03-10-2008 04:53:12 | More by sleazo
Photo of RblWthACoz


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

Shoots! Ola Dubh 30 on cask. Talk about a rarity. The firkin cost nearly as much as my rent does. (I live in New York City...so just make a wild guess)

Pours pitch black with absolutely no head at all. There's that peaty nose again. Drinking it still is like whisky and ale together. However I find that in this instance, the strong whisky character mellows out over time and it becomes much smoother and easier to drink. There is still the intensity that the bottle holds though. This is where the dilemna comes in. Do you want that hearty profile to last the whole time (if so, go for the bottle) or do you want a smoother ride? For me I liked it and thought it was a bit nicer on the cask because it mellowed out a bit and wasn't so harsh and intense as I recall the bottle being. Sip and enjoy.

Note: The only reason for a difference in score for me between cask and bottle is the appearance and mouthfeel.

Serving type: cask

03-10-2008 00:08:17 | More by RblWthACoz
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
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 332 ratings.