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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.

229 Reviews
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Reviews: 229
Hads: 410
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 13.65%
Wants: 90
Gots: 94 | FT: 8
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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Reviews: 229 | Hads: 410
Photo of mick303
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vertical tasting of the range, from notes.
A - pitch black with no head at all. 4
S - VANILLA! maple syrup, waffles, sweet creaminess, so amazing and complex, intoxicating. 4.75
T - chocolate, slight alcohol heat, just amazing, rich whisky notes, dry caramel, leafy, cherries but not sweet, restrained lactose, black pepper just so complex and nuanced. 4.5
M - smooth, no carbonation, just sticks on the palate and so rich. 4.5
O - dances on the palate, just awesome, this was a really mind-blowing whisky-aged beer. 5

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A fine, thin blanket of chestnut mousse leaves a delicate veil of lace while a viscous, black (SRM 40) liquor coats the Glencairn snifter. The short-lived head becomes a thin ring after a few minutes.

Rich chocolate malt and whiskey is omnipresent, but beneficent. A syrupy and roasted character develops with warmth as smoky peat and molasses loiter in the background.

Rich flavors closely follow the aromas of dark fruit such as fig and prune, while molasses is exposed by warmth. All mix well with earthy peat flavors as it teeters from sweet to bitter. Molasses and brown sugar are evident in the ever-so-subtle, but lingering, finish.

This variant of Ola Dubh is extremely smooth, with a full, almost dense, body. The alcohol is lightly warming and much higher than anticipated, especially given 5.5 years in the bottle. Carbonation is like fine pin pricks amidst a velvety texture.

This is a prime example of what a contemplative beer can be. It would easily stand up to cigars or brownie bottom sundaes. It brings to mind memories of long conversations with my grandfather in leather chairs surrounded by old books in a cigar-smoke filled room.

Bottle number 6001, dated September 2007. This could also fit a rich porter style.

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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.

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Photo of techdiver
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Sept 2007, number 07659. Black with clarity visible at edges. Not much carbonation, perhaps due in large part to the age of the bottle. Great malt profile in aroma and taste, there's an invigorating rush as it hits the back of the mouth and slides down your throat. Of the other Special Reserves I've had, the 12 and the 16, this is the most memorable.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter. Bottled January 2009.

Appearance - Black, but opaque at the edges. Frothy khaki collar. This glass may provide a bit too much surface for the beer to retain a real head, but it still looks nice.

Smell - Scotch. Peaty and smokey scotch aroma. A little vanilla. Some spicy chocolate back there too. This is the beer's best attribute.

Taste - Immediate scotch barrel presence, but a bitter chocolate cuts it. Peaty flavor comes back after the chocolate fades into a bitter and, again, spicy, finish. No sweetness or caramel to this. Very much focused on bitter and smokey flavors.

Mouthfeel - It's still a weak base beer, so it feels very thin and gets a bit overpowered by the barrel. Too much barrel for this beer isn't really a bad thing, though.

Overall - The best I've had of this series. This is also probably the only one I'd buy again, but the cost is prohibitive. I would like to know if this ages longer than the others, as its barrel character is more distinct.

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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.

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Photo of slyke
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ola Dubh bottle 15183, dated September 2007

This pours black as coal with just a hint of a chestnut colored head.

The smell has notes of oak, scotch, and dark fruit.

The taste is a mix of those same flavors with the dark fruit being more prominent in the taste.

Mouthfeel is a touch on the oily side with some weight on the tongue and it coats the mouth with a lasting aftertaste.

Overall, this is a heck of a good sipping beer. Give it a try.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Plonk in Canberra.

Pours a murky black-brown, with surprisingly light highlights of chocolate brown at the edges. Head is formed of tiny, creamy chocolate coloured bubbles, and it forms patchy, but streaking lace. Overall, it's a really seductive looking brew.

Nose is wonderfully dense and dark, leavened with strong, slightly peaty whisky overtones. But there's a sweetness and a solidity to the base beer, giving chocolate, dense bread and grain gravity to the brew. The whisky is exceptionally noticeable, however, giving a really lovely accent to the nose overall. Lovely drop.

Taste is actually much less brusque and much less confronting than I expected. Here, the caressing chocolate flavours come forward more, leaving the smoky whiskey spinning languidly in the background, providing a seductive glimpse at something deeper and more complex. It's sweet, it's supple, but it's exciting and mysterious too.

This is an absolutely cracking beer, obviously crafted with care and love. The beer itself is grand, but the whisky barrel ages makes it magical.

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Photo of Rickythejeweler
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown, half finger khaki head, nice little lacing, a few carbonation bubbles on bottom of the snifter.

S - Beautiful scotch, wood, cocoa, light peat/smoke, faint hops, maple syrup.

T - Oak, vanilla, scotch, light chocolate, plums, brown malts, faint smoke.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation, at times it was creamy, then others it felt watery.

O - Aside from the relatively light body, this was a stellar brew!

Bottle: March 2009, #05207, $18.99 at Honeygo Wine & Spirits in Perry Hall, MD

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Photo of drtth
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. Bottled in February of 2009.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a dark almost black color that does indeed look like old engine oil. The 1/4” light tan head recedes fairly soon to a small ring of foam around the glass with an irregular patch of foam. Sipping leaves a a modest amount of foam that soon becomes scattered speckles of lacing, some of which slide back down to the liquid and some of which remain clinging to the side of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is detectable as soon as the bottle is opened and before the pour. As with the 12, 16 and the 18, what shows first is the scotch. After the pour, however, the components of the beer mingle in and some chocolate, with hints of molasses and toffee in the background.

Taste: As with the other versions of this beer the flavors are quite complex. The dark chocolate also seems to have light coffee notes to it along very faint hints of dark roast. There is neither heat nor burn from the alcohol and the integration of the contribution of the whisky barrel with the flavors of the beer is close to perfection. As with the 18, this is not a beer with whisky in it. The beer and whisky have become are one.

Mouthfeel: As with other versions I’ve sampled (the 12, the 16, and the 18) the mouth feel is smooth as silk, on the light side of medium bodied and has only light, gentle carbonation. As with the others, the finish is long and starts in sweetness. It then tapers off into a nice earthy dryness and faint bitterness.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: This is a great beer for sipping and I’ll be looking to have this again. My overall impression is that this whole series are a great set of beers. One day I hope to sample this series of beers side by side so as to be able to really have a shot at finding how the age of the whisky that was in the barrel affects the base beer. Certainly with this one the whisky notes are smoother and hard to separate out as a different component and there is a definite “smoothness” to the flavors I don’t remember from the 12 and 16.

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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.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 10807 Bottled September 2007

A: opaque, black with dense creamy head that dissipated after a few minutes to a veil and then to nothing
S: medium nose, dense, earthy with deep roasted malt and readily apparent aging
T: incredible depth of roasted malt and barrel aging, well-balanced English beer that relies more on malt than tons of hops, chalky
M: very smooth, velvety and incredibly drinkable
O: for its ABV of 8% it is very, very good

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Photo of akorsak
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 330 mL bottle, foil-wrapped with a pretty little medallion affixed to the neck. With janlud.

A: The ale pours like oil, dark and thick with very little head.

S: The scotch barrels create a very interesting aroma of peat and sea salt. The darker caramel and chocolate malts of the old ale come through and are complimentary to the Scottish aromas.

T: The peat and sea salt continue, the first flavors out of the glass. The peat is lightly smoked, chewy and distinct. Darker fruits follow but the taste generally falls flat after the initial peat passes. A rich body remains but the flavors struggle to keep up and stand out. Not as complex or strong as I'd expect from such an old barrel.

M: The mouthfeel starts out strong but quickly loses steam. The peaty richness is too quick to disappear.

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Photo of Converge
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

330ml bottle poured into a 16oz goblet. Bottle No. 36359. Bottled January 2009.

A - Thin but bubbly dark tan head. Looks pitch black after the pour. Head thins out to a small ring around the edges. Arches of sticky lacing coat the glass with each sip.

S - Big and earthy. Peat, smoke, licorice, oak, and scotch. Lots of subtleties here and there.

T - Starts out as predicted, but quickly opens up to a huge palate of deep earthy and resinous flavors. Smoke and wood are strong, with lots of peat and a bit of dark chocolate and cocoa as well. Not much whisky flavor shining through. Dark malt in the finish, but not too roasted or bitter; more-so smooth and rich. Not exactly the most complex flavor profile, but an absolutely delicious one for sure. No trace of alcohol anywhere.

M - Smooth feel, low carbonation, viscous body, and quite sticky. Very nice.

D - Fantastic beer, and one I wish I could have more often. The overall presentation and aroma building up to a rich and powerful flavor profile was great. All very well done.

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Photo of dgilks
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark black colour with red highlights. A small tan head dissipates quickly but that is somewhat expected.

Rich, oily, rounded barrel character with notes of caramel, toffee, oak, vanilla, dark fruits and a bit more charred oak. Nutty.

Sweet malt with some rounded barrel character. Vanilla, oak and toffee add depth. Very good.

Medium-full body with moderate carbonation. Nice.

A tasty, rounded and complex brew. The barrel character is much more refined than in the 12 year old and the malt sweetness really shines. Delicious.

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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.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer appears an impenetrable brown shade, with a half inch of beige head that leaves a considerable amount of lacing on the tulip.

The aroma offers whiskey, smoke, peat, campfire. It smells like a bonfire by the ocean at twilight. Oh my...

The scotch character from the Highland Park barrels takes center stage. Wow. Peat and smoke. Ultra smooth and easy to drink. A sipper, though you could upend the snifter in one gluttonous impulse.

Alcohol? Where? A non factor. Light to medium in body, with relatively low carbonation.

My first experience with this series of beers, I will be conducting a vertical tasting of the Ola Dubh Highland Park series as soon as I can!

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Photo of afdempse
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick black liquid, impervious to light. Cocoa-Tan head that sticks around on the glass.

Aroma of dark chocolate, peat smoke and salty seaweed. Burnt sugars. Intense.

Tastes of dark roasted malts, with peat, dark raisins and dried fruits. Black barley flavors provide a nice dry edge.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full. Finishes dry and roasty but with a creamy feel. Lingering hints of fine scotch whisky.

A scotch drinker's dream. A perfect marriage of beer and whisky. Highly recommended to anyone who appreciates both.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.21/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. Bottle No. 01232, March 2009. ABV is 8.0%. Pitch black colour, big tan head. Strong aroma of whisky cask, notes of peat, tar and vanilla. Intense but well rounded flavour of malt whisky, oak, malty sweetness, coffee and tar. Moderately bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of Shadman
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thumbs up on the packaging effort. Black box, fancy medallion. Mind you @ $10/PER some effort had bloody well better be apparent, no? lol Pours like a moonless night kind of dark. Used motor oil would blush with envy. Nice thick tan head. Took forever to settle into a thin cap.

Raisin, fruit cake, slight coffee, slight booze. A nice combo IMO

Taste follows nose, except there's a slight peaty smokiness in the undertones.

Feel starts out rather thin, but rounds into a nice medium, if slighty sticky, body.

Very pricey but a nice treat to sip around a fireplace come winter.

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Photo of kennylopez
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle#37825 bottled on Jan2009 poured into goblet glass enjoyed on 10-10-2011

Appearance: dark black with a half fingers worth of brown head that subsided rather quick, and leaves spots of lacing as you drink it. a thin film of carbonation stays as I drink it which I am not used to with old ales, but enjoy.

Smells: dark roasted barley with a hint of sweet chocolate. the charred oak has a play,yet is subtle.

Tastes: amazing to say the least. I was reluctant to pick up some of this due to the price, but now I understand why they can charge so much and boy am I happy I bought a few bottles. The heavy roasted malt character has wonderful bitter chocolate notes that balance this ale great.

Mouthfeel: a mellow and extremely smooth drinking experience. the layers of flavors are the key notes in the aftertaste. there is little burn from the 8% which is enjoyable along with the surprising amount of carbonation.

Overall: a expensive bottle to say the least at nearly $14 for 11.2 oz. I bought four bottles and opened one today which is a day that I consider an occasion. For my budget a bottle like this is not everyday drinking although I wish I could, but I got a few more left and will hold on to them for another special day that deserves a good brew.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours very black. Brown outer edges. Not too much head. Dies down to bubbles. Light lacing.

S-Stout like aromas. Chocolate, roasted coffee beans, licorice, some dark fruit, and of course light notes of Scotch. Woody aroma from the barrel. Pleasant, and not too bold.

T-The Highland Park scotch notes are quite subdued. I would have enjoyed more whiskey in the flavor. All the other components in the nose are available in the flavor. Nice vanilla notes too.

M-Viscous but the body is not too heavy. Carbonation is very soft. Alcohol is masked well.

O/D-Overall, I enjoyed the flavor but the big theme of this beer was it being aged in a great scotch barrel. I personally was not satisfied with the intensity of the scotch flavors. Still tasty, but a bit disappointing.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Bottle 20356 - Date 9.2007

(A) Pours really a really really dark ruby brown. Pretty much black with warmer tones. There was a small tan head after pouring but it dissipated to thin bubbles across the top of the beer. Leaves some lacing.

(S) Licorice, dark fruit, molasses, and bourbon dominate the smell. A lot of boozy sweetness wraps the aroma of this brew. It smells big and slightly smokey.

(T) Licorice, molasses, and the dark fruits are the forefront. Biscuit, sweet dark malts, some slight cocoa, leather, and whisky fill in the middle heft of the taste. Leaves you with some coffee, toasted malts, and cherry in the end.

(M) Feels thinner than it looked when poured. More of a filling, oily feel. Medium body that ends slightly dry.

(O) I expected a much more alcoholic beer after the smell. The taste was very similar to the smell but backed off of the booze. I've heard great things about these beers and after my try at the 30 I know them all to be true. The Ola Dubh Special Reserves seem like great winter brews and scream campfire.

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Photo of wnh
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Sept 2007, consumed Nov 2010.
Bottle #15052.

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours an opaque chestnut brown-black with a small and fleeting dark tan head.

Nose is packed, dominated largely by an oxidized apple and pear note. Medium-roast coffee beans, smoke and char, bittersweet dark chocolate, buttery caramel and toffee, and a bit of a vinous acetic character round out the nose. Smells heavenly.

Like the 12 and 16 year, the 30 year shows more roast on the palate than the nose indicates. Perhaps not roastier per se, but the roast plays a larger role on the palate than in the nose. Chewy toffee and molasses, a slight but intriguing bright raspberry note, fruity earthiness, a bit of honey, creamy milk chocolate--truly complex and balanced.

Quite light bodied, perhaps medium, and almost thin, but not a detracting point. Finishes fruity but dry. A very pleasant beer.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 229 ratings.