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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.

392 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 392
Reviews: 227
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 10.56%
Wants: 79
Gots: 90 | FT: 9
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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 392 | Reviews: 227 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ritzkiss
4.63/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of bobsy
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
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)

Photo of t3hcho53non3
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark brown with slight head that fades quickly but leaves some lacing

Smell: Scotch hints of chocolate

Taste: You can definitely tell this is a cask beer as their is a prevailing taste of scotch with some dark chocolates and smokiness

Mouthfeel: Thick scotchy finish slightly sweet on the backend

Drinkability: This is the one you end the night on.

Photo of coldmeat23
4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
BOTTLE No. & DATE: 05896/Sept 2007

This pours black and oily, just as I'd hoped it would. About half a fingers worth of dark brown/chocolate colored foam makes for a very nice head, which sticks around for quite a while. Lacing is in strands and is pretty sticky, despite the oily residue fighting to slide it back down.

The smokey peat scent is quite dominant, here. Roasted malts are down in there, along with dark chocolate. Traces of vanilla, molasses and toasted coconut.
This is easily the most obvious scent of scotch, in a beer, that I've encountered...and it's delicious smelling!

Big, dark roasted malt flavor mixes with a hugely peat-filled scotch flavor. Rauchbier's don't have this much smokiness in them! Slight sweetness of molasses and vanilla. Slight bitterness of burnt roastiness. The booziness seems like it's higher than 8%abv.

Medium bodied, and leans towards the low end of that. Mild carbonation level. I was hoping for thickly viscous, but it sadly leans towards an almost waterey texture.

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to try this. I'd drink it again, if the chance presents itself, but I won't go on a quest for it or anything.

Photo of BarrelO
4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a goblet. Bottle number 11966, September 2007.

A: This beer is quite aptly named. Pours dark brown, almost black. One finger head fades but leaves some lacing.

S: Roastiness, dark fruits, and alcohol. Like a boozy doppelbock.

T: Quite complex. By turns roasty, chocolaty, and smoky. Finishes with a lingering bitterness.

M: Smooth as silk.

D: Pricey but outstanding. Definitely a beer to end the night with.

Photo of FlyingRabbit
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Exactly as the name translates to: "Black Oil"

Aroma: You can smell that this was a cask beer, with hints of chocolate, and scotch.

Taste: Absolutely smooth dark chocolately taste that tones down the undercurrent of scotch and black licorice.

Overall: One of the best beers I've had the luck of stumbling upon. Absolutely incredible. Was it worth the $14 I paid per bottle? No doubt. This was drank as an "end-of-vacation" beer, and man, did I wish I had bought a few more. Also, you can feel the alcohol content on this one. Its thick and drinks like it.

Photo of drperm
4.95/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle purchased Fall 2008. Tasted 13 August 2009.

Appearance: Pitch black: thick, viscous, opaque, with just a hint of sand-tan head. Like a black old ale.

Aroma: The most amazing black-beer nose I've ever experienced: Tar, tobacco, sorghum molasses, raw honey, freshly cut grass, and....coconut? Incredible.

Taste: Wonderful bitterness. 70% cocoa dark chocolate, coffee, nutmeg, tobacco, sorghum, Scotch whisky, toasted malt, cardamom. Heavenly.

Palate: Finishes like a thick, beery single malt Scotch. Just a hair too sweet on the finish, keeping it from a 5.0 score for me.

Overall: If I pay $15 for a 12 oz. bottle (in a box), I want it to taste like this. SO much smoother than the 12-yr. version I had in November. Food pairings? Only the deepest, richest, multi-layer chocolate extravagance. Or a top-shelf cigar.

Stunningly highly recommended.

Photo of spaceycasey
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle # 22992/Sept 2007 bottling. Consumed 8/11/09.

A - Dark, almost-black brown with reddish tint when held to the light. What little head did form quickly disappears as though it were never there.

S - Perhaps one of the most amazing smelling beers I've had. They should make a perfume out of this. Round, aged wood, vanilla with distinct scotch and a hint of port-like oxidation that I feel positively affects the beer.

T - Oak, vanilla, dark chocolate and subtle whiskey. I enjoyed that the whiskey flavors were not over the top but instead another subtle complexity that makes this beer one of a kind.

M - Little to no carbonation, creamy and rich and a lingering presence after the last gulp.

D - Enjoyable, but would be hard to drink more than the 6 oz. that I did because it comes off a little hotter than the 8.0% abv suggests.

All in an all an excellent beer.

Photo of BeerStine
3.55/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle #0667 in Spet 2007.

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

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

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

2007 vintage. This looked the same as the 12, 16, and 18 year Ola Dubhs. It smelled quite similar to the 16 and 18 years (chocolate and caramel and honey wheat and roasted coffee). I expected it to have a stronger peat and oak scent, due to the greater year, but instead it remained mellow and sweet. It tasted similar to the other Ola Dubhs also (roasted barley and burnt coffee and molasses, with a strong oak and peat finish), but with the most prominent peat character of any year, along with salty oak. It had a similar texture to the other years, but with a strong scotch aftertaste. Overall this had the most depth and complexity of the Ola Dubhs, with the boldest flavor. It had a very strong sense of scotch, although it wasn't difficult to drink as long as you enjoy the flavor of scotch. Age is clearly a friend to these beers, and this one could go much longer. So good to sip. Fantastic beer.

Photo of magictrokini
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love beer and I love scotch. Most of the time, the combination is awesome (except for that BrewDog Storm, yikes). This is representative of the former. Pours black with brown edges. Short-lived brown head, slight lacing. Peat and chocolate fill the nose, but don't overtake the caramel and cream. Coffee-and-chocolate flavor hits you first, but the slow burn of the scotch is right there. Lovely centered, sweet cream and toffee finds its way through. Smoky, peaty, oaky, but avoids the oily/soy-sauce tang that some of the younger brews had. A welcome salty-sweet finish as well. Expensive, but worth it.

Photo of danadeny
4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of DefenCorps
4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Photo of athensbeermaster
4.9/5  rDev +15%
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.

Photo of capra12
3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 6/23/09 with the help of Wheatman106 and speedwayjim, served in a snifter glass.

Appearance- Without knowing this was an ale, this brew presents like a stout. With that said, there was 1 1/2 finger head, dark and opaque with spotty lacing on the glass.

Smell- This brew gives me strong whiskey, chocolate and malts.

Taste- opens smooth with no carbonation and dark chocolate, from the middle to the end I taste roasted malts and the earthiness of wood from the barrels. The carbonation is very prominent with milk chocolate in the end and this brew finishes strong with a slight trace of coffee and subdued hops.

Mouthfeel- This brew is surprisingly full bodied and the carbonation really enhances the sour notes of this beer but as the carbonation fades the roasted malts really come through.

Drinkability- Personally I would have another because of the simple and distinct flavors in this beer, but my colleague give this a lower drinkability

Photo of dirtylou
4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, graciously shipped to me in a recent bif. available in stores here and quite pricey

bottle #16682 / Sept 07

appearance: sold in an individual box, bottle neck wrapped in black foil with a metal brewery medallion draped around the neck...poured into a snifter, jet black body, creamy chocolate cap and light-moderate retention...opaque and full of intrigue

smell: lovely smooth nose - well aged whisky, vanilla and oak tones provide a great compliment...creamy chocolate

taste: fascinating complexity - enough whisky is present to prevent you from forgetting the life of this great beer. full of oak, vanilla, dark chocolate, caramel and a subtle but brilliant smokiness. this is so much better than the 16 in my eyes. chances are this will be the only time i ever have this (due to the price tag), but i'll certainly savor the experience

mouthfeel: creamy and rich, lingering whisky bite. absolutely not for the faint of heart - drinks like its nearly double the ABV it actually is

drinkability: tough - but great

Photo of alcstradamus
3.38/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of drpimento
4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

MMMmmmm, hmmm! Got this bottle at Sam's in Chi. Really interesting how this differs from the 12 & 16. Opaque like the 16, more aroma and going on than the 16, but not as coarse (& the 12 isn't coarse at all - relative) as the 12. Much more silky. Divine. Peaty, malty, roasty in the nose. Boozy again. Opulent. Rich and sort of bitter. Excellent beer. Not a session tho.

Photo of beerthulhu
4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: From the bottle poured a beautiful and rich creamy chocolate color in the light. In the bottle appeared a pitch black wit a 1 finger light cinnamon toast colored head that was moderatly lasting leaving a scant lacing.

S: rich dark mocha and chocolate, with sweet hints coming through before a smooth roasted character takes over. Hints of scotch whisky are very evident with dark fruit (prunes, fresh raisins). The booziness is smooth and well mannered but seems a bit more then the advertised 8%abv.

T: The flavor starts off good with loads of ripe fruit (prunes, fresh raisins), with smooth roasted coffee grounds. Hints of sweet chocolate and toffee are detected before lingering dark notes of licorice, and dry scotch whisky take over. The finish finds a campfire minerality of charred wood, whiskey and a earthy dark bitterness that gently and smoothly grabs the tongues attention. A warming sensation of alcohol and reminders of wet coffee grinds round out a beautiful smooth roasted experience.

M: Very smooth and silky with a velvety touch. Softly carbonated with warming alcohol and an earthy bitterness makes this a keeper.

D: A beautiful drink, an honest slow sipper that you want to savor and appreiciate. Extremely smooth in character and drinks bigger then its advertised 8%abv. A rich and rewarding experience where one is enough to fill you up and leave you satisfied. Good regards here.

Photo of Contagion
4.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The coloring is a dark black, like the Gaelic name given it; it's very much reminiscent of black oil. No light passes through, but there is a slight reddish color at the edges. This beer is darker than most that I have experienced. In fact I'm going to say this is the darkest beer that I can recall seeing. A thin tan head formed and slowly faded. It left a nice ring around the edge of the beer and the glass.

The smell was a heavenly mix of rich chocolate malts enhanced with the woody and smoky peat scent of a proper Scotch in the back ground. As it warms a mild caramel scent opens up and compliments the beer even more so. The flavor is much like the scent. A rich roasted chocolate malt flavor and smoky peat flavors mix to a delightful flavor that makes one want to go back for more. There is a gentle bitterness in the finishes that rounds of each sip. Caramel and coffee malts become more noticeable as the beer reaches room temperature. The 8% ABV isn't noticed in the flavor at all.

This is a smooth, full bodied beer. A touch of a viscousness that coats the tongue and mouth locking the flavor. It is definitely a sipping beer.

This has to be the most flavorful and enticing beer I've ever drank. The flavor combinations mixed with the perfect blend of smells really makes this beer something that I could find myself craving. However, at $14.99 a bottle, I think this would be a special occasion beer and definitely not one you buy in bulk for a party. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Ola Dubh, I'd recommend giving it a try.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.75/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.88/5  rDev -8.9%
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...

Photo of jjanega08
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A= Pitch black oil with a small thin layer of head that dies quickly leaving no lacing but does have a ring around the glass.
S= lots of booze and whiskey in this one. Small bits of wood and small vanilla. Even the chocolate malt is taken over by the whiskey notes
T= Much smoother than the taste. Clean chocolate malt. Smooth scotch aftertaste and the wood is almost not in it till it warms up.
M= Coats my mouth and finishes dry. No carbonation in it.
D= Pretty good. I prefer this one to the 16. This one is a little smoother while the smell is a lot rougher. Still not gonna buy this one regularly if I could but I'm happy I got to try it.

Photo of BeerSox
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle into 8oz snifter. 2303, Sept 2007.

Pitch black hue with a half finger light tan head that settles to a thin rim along the glass.

Very roasty aromas, along with some sweeter molasses.

Dark and roasty, along with some black coffee and dark fruit, but still with some sweeter characteristics. Full bodied, and very smooth.

Both the 12 and the 30 are great beers. This one seemed slightly smoother, with a little less vanilla. Recommended.

Photo of froghop
3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

bottled september 2007, batch 02565.

pours oil like, midnight black with a thin brown head, and some lacing.

smell is of cocoa, wheat, some vanilla, and a touch of caramel in the back.

taste is a little flat, cocoa, vanilla, a little smoke, some nuts, and slight coffee, ends on the dry side.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 392 ratings.