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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

351 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 351
Reviews: 220
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 73
Gots: 83 | FT: 6
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: 351 | Reviews: 220 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2008 03:56:08 | More by Sammy
Photo of t0rin0


4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

11-19-2012 13:20:28 | More by t0rin0
Photo of djrn2

New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev -0.2%

12-10-2011 22:06:28 | More by djrn2
Photo of Thorpe429


4.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours black with the tiniest of mocha heads and a few legs here and there. Nose is really nice and enjoyable with some whisky, strong chocolate, dark fruits, molasses, vanilla, oak, and roast. The taste is nicer than the Special Reserve 40, as there is a bit less of the whisky/booze feel and instead you get down to the oak, chocolate, and vanilla notes. Good feel with a touch of booze, though not quite as warming as the 40, which is strange to say about a beer that really isn't that high in ABV.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2010 00:31:09 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of metter98

New York

4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
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 mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this one along with the rest of the lineup a while back, but to be honest had been holding onto this for a while in the fridge. I was not the greatest fan of the 12, but the 16 I thought was excellent, giving me very high hops for this one. The boxed bottled looked great and I proceeded to pour it into an over-sized wine glass to make sure I got the full effect of it. The pour was very nice, with a thick, viscous look to it and a really dark menacing presence. There was a thin brown head, maybe one inch in height that came over the top and settled down gracefully into a nice crown of tan that stayed with it throughout the rest of the session. Very nice side glass lace was also apparent throughout the entire time.

The aroma was loaded with peat. This was not nearly as smoky as the 16 was and to be honest had a good deal more sweetness to it which was a bit surprising. The scotch and oak aromas were there, but light as this was coming in a little bit under what I had though, but was nonetheless very good. Still extremely rich and complex, I decided to go in and take a taste. Very smooth and creamy, with the body of it coming off very well indeed. It was a full bodied ale for sure, with the carbonation coming in a little bit above some of the others, offering it that nice silky feel at times. The rich flavor of peat was really coming across well. The light flavor of molasses and wood now coming to the front, with a touch of dark chocolate in there as well. Some nice dark fruity notes lingering way in the back, remnants of the barrel for sure. Light smoke notes riddled throughout, but never really becoming dominating. This was interesting. No hint of the alcohol at all, and I could have just kept sipping all night.

Overall very good and on par with the 16, but with a smoother and more even profile.I hear that they are going to branch this one out even more, and I would be most excited to see what other varieties they can come up with. The price tag is very steep but think this one is worth the price, at least once.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2008 12:50:45 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of goryshkewych: Poured a deep pitch-black color ale with a medium light brown foamy head with average retention and no lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with distinctive notes of scotch. Taste is a well balance mix between some sweet malt with some notes of scotch with a creamy like texture. The chocolate notes of the regular Old Engine Oil beer are still present. Full creamy body with some good carbonation and no discernable alcohol. I would say that this was good but I would have expected more scotch presence and I am not sure that this is a staple considering the price tag.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2008 18:24:14 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A luxurious, asserive Scotch ale that has a rustic, old-world nature along with a finess and sophistication that can't be ignored. Bottle indicates that the beer was bottled nearly a year ago- good amount of age under its belt. The pour brings a solid stout-like color, dark brown and basically opaque. Creamy and rich, the beer brings a 1/2" creamy head formation that retains quite well, leaving nice lacing on the glass. Aromas are quite stout-like as well with medium roasted note with peaty smokiness, grape and anise esters, notes of currants, lactose, nuts, oak, and rich alcohols emit from the glass. Flavors begin to steer away from the roasty stout notes, but begin to favor nutty coffee's, red grapes, plumbs, liquorice, toasted malts, soy sauce, dry woodiness, Scotch whisky, cocoa powder, melanoidin-meaty (similar to dopplebockes) and a mild hit of sorgum. Textures are rich and full, allowing the creamy Wee-Heavy feel to dominate, but also bringing a dry, powdery, woody astringecy to keep the sugars for commanding the drinkability -- a bit schwarabier-like. Finishes with a campfire, scotch-woody, estery blend. In retrospect, the smokey nature may have come from smoked malts-- the flavors are too clean to think they came primarily from the phenolic yeasts. Still, great beer- maybe the best Scotch ale out there. A great beer to pair with a medium bodied, nutty, earthy, pungent, fragrant cigar.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2008 04:36:05 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of kjkinsey


4/5  rDev -6.1%

02-04-2014 21:55:59 | More by kjkinsey
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.43/5  rDev -19.5%
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 ygtbsm94


3.75/5  rDev -12%

01-19-2014 04:14:08 | More by ygtbsm94
Photo of Texasfan549


3/5  rDev -29.6%

01-19-2014 21:01:57 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of jaydoc


3.75/5  rDev -12%

09-04-2013 03:23:19 | More by jaydoc
Photo of spycow


4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

03-10-2013 19:49:52 | More by spycow
Photo of Knapp85


3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 15,294: This one was my favorite in the series until I got a hold of the 40 year version of this. This beer poured out as a dark black thick looking liquid. The head was thin and brown is color. Not much lacing here. The smell once again was full of whiskey and barrel aged aromas. The taste of the beer was quite good, lots of roasted malts, dark chocolate and scotch on the taste buds. The mouthfeel of the beer was thick and smooth. It coats the mouth pretty well. Overall this beer is a little pricy but I think to have it once it's worth looking into.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2011 23:01:02 | More by Knapp85
Photo of JAHMUR


4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

11-20-2011 04:59:04 | More by JAHMUR
Photo of biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'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...

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2011 02:05:00 | More by biboergosum
Photo of nickfl


4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - One finger of dark brown head and a totally black, opaque body. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Big, malty aroma. Lots of caramel, toffee, and milk chocolate. The scotch aromas are subtle but distinctly present with notes of musty oak, tobacco, and smoke.

T - Surprisingly thin maltiness up front, sweet toffee and little else. The rich flavors begin to come out after a couple of seconds with sweet coffee/chocolate malt and dark raisin fruitiness. The character darkens as it progresses with wood notes coming out first, followed by light tobacco flavors, and finally rich, smooth smokiness in the long finish, complimented by a lingering malt bitterness and mild alcohol warmth.

M - Surprisingly thin body, moderately low carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - This is a complex, smooth and enjoyable beer. The finish seems to linger on the palate indefinitely and it continues to develop character all the while. I have compared many dark, complex beers to good cigars, but this reminds me more of pipe tobacco; complex, smooth, mild, and deeply satisfying.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2009 07:14:29 | More by nickfl
Photo of RblWthACoz


4.43/5  rDev +4%
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 russpowell


4.18/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this one from Bitterbill, let's see how this stacks up to the 12..Cheers Bill!!

Pours ebony with 1 pinky of mocha/brown head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Nice boozey whisky notes & touch of leafy hops, along with dark fruits

T: Dark fruits, chocolate & a hint of peaty smoke up front. As this warms, I get plums, roasty malt in small amounts, & a bit of coffee. Finishes dry with some leafy hops, plums, brown sugar & a hint of licorice. Almost pulled a 4.5

MF: Smooth as all get out! Low carbonation,nice warming, slickness & stickyness. More malt depth would be helpful

Drinks pretty easy, but the dryness & complexity will hold you back a bit. I liked the taste of the 12 better, but this one rates a bit higher, due to the lovely smell

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2008 04:19:57 | More by russpowell
Photo of drabmuh


4.6/5  rDev +8%
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 Slatetank


4.58/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to witbier for this fine ale, you are too generous Zeke. I shared this with tenderbranson69, poured slightly cooler than cellar temp from the 11.2oz into my Duvel tulip.

A - An opaque black like an 8 ball w/ 2 fingers w medium tan w/ a tiny bead. Thick lace results from the pour and sticks to the glass

S - A great scent of smoke and wood in the nose - a fine scotch whisky influence in the aroma w/ toffee, and spice cake odors. The scent has mild cocoa and peat notes - very woody w/ a mild alcohol scent

M & T - A feel that is both rich and smooth w/ dry spiced texture and alcohol on the palate from the barrel. The middle has a mild maltiness and nutty roasted tinges w/ chocolate smoothness and a mild vanilla bean w/ raisin element and the mild smooth caramel in the dry finish
The taste is rich w/ dark toffee and vanilla bean, and an almost cocoa/caramel taste. The flavor of the scotch barrel is there, but doesn't overpower, sweet malts w/ layers of sweetened nuts and toast are subtle and roll over the palate. The dry taste is there as it finishes w/ the whisky maintaining its presence throughout

D - A phenomenal drinkability - the blend of the beer and barrel are practically seamless. A marriage of great beer and wood, begs for repeated tastes. I am eager to taste the other versions of this fine barrel aged ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2009 13:29:52 | More by Slatetank
Photo of jlindros


4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got to try this thanks to FluffyMcTingle, which he cracked for his own birthday. Thanks for sharing Chris.

A: Dark head disappears quickly with very dark almost but not completely pitch black color.

N: Dark malts, roasted, chocolate, black patent perhaps, sweet, little boozy, some oak and whisky, lots of chocolate, bakers choc and light dark chocolate, light and creamy.

T: Lighter than I expected, with some malts, stout flavors, a little creamy, dark fruits, whisky, woody esthers, a little roast, very light chocolate flavors late on the taste, touch of earthy flavors and hint of bitterness, and even some vanilla.

M: Lighter body with decent carbonation.

F: Some sweetness lingering, more whisky and fruits, wood esthers, a little dank wooden shelf like flavors too, touch of roast and a little syrup and caramel. Later on the finish comes some light peat and smoke, a definite Highland Park scotch flavor.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2010 03:34:57 | More by jlindros
Photo of oline73


5/5  rDev +17.4%

11-16-2011 01:23:35 | More by oline73
Photo of jwc215


3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Like the 12 and 16, it pours black with no head, just some vanishing bubbles.

The smell is woody/oaky with scotch, peat smoke and chocolate. More chocolate maltiness than in the 12 or 16.

Like in the nose, the chocolate is more prominent than in the 12 or 16, though not as sweet as the 16. There is quite a bit of roastiness, especially in the finish, with scotch notes that work well. Even less woodiness than in the 12 or 16.

Like in the other two, the carbonation is understated, though less so with this one. It has a bit more body than the others, though I still expected a bit more heft for what it is.

I liked the 12 and 30 (at about par for different reasons - liked the woodiness of the 12 and the slightly higher carbonation and overall fullness in body of the 30) better than the 16 because the sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2008 01:34:07 | More by jwc215
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 351 ratings.