1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

165 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 165
Reviews: 110
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 72
Gots: 28 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Nickls on 01-29-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 165 | Reviews: 110 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of imbuckeye
5/5  rDev +16.8%

imbuckeye, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of JGuill
5/5  rDev +16.8%

JGuill, Jan 18, 2012
Photo of Hard2Guard908
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Hard2Guard908, Feb 20, 2012
Photo of Rognvaldr
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Rognvaldr, Jul 10, 2013
Photo of billzav
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Yet another outstanding offering from the brewery’s Special Reserve series. Jet black in color, 40 has big Scotch whiskey notes in the nose and initial taste, complimented by hints of dark chocolate and sweet malt with a vanilla oakiness at the finish. An extremely well balanced beer, 40 is as rich and smooth as it is complex, and I believe that it’s the best offering in the series.

billzav, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of ronin926
5/5  rDev +16.8%

ronin926, Jun 20, 2013
Photo of adrian21
5/5  rDev +16.8%

adrian21, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of Spadoof
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Name: Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40
Brewery: Harviestoun
Bottled on: January 2009
Purchasing Date: 12/22/11
Purchased From: Vintage Estate (Boardman, Ohio) [$20 a bottle]

Origin: 12 oz bottle
Serving Glass: 22oz Snifter
Serving Temp: 60F

*Tasted this one a while after the Special Reserve 16. Enough time to cleanse my palate.

Appearance: Pitch black body with a resilient mocha, caramel cap. Completely opaque. Wonderful!

Smell: As soon as my nose gets close to my glass, my mouth waters...Incredible. Its so balanced (even more so than the SR16). Deep, melted dark chocolate. Mature Scotch Whiskey. Vanilla. Oak. Slight Saltyness (Ocean mist)? Again, just incredible!

Taste: Complex, not complicated. Everything melds together beautifully. Deep, rich smokiness. The flavor from the scotch is great. Mature and full flavor. Solid malt, vanilla and chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Again Spot on. Low carbonation and viscous.

Overall: While I'm sure others won't agree, I'm giving this a perfect 5/5. This was amazing. While I have not had this brew fresh, three years of aging has done something incredible to this beer. Outstanding, one of my all time favorites, my highest recommendation. Expensive though....

Spadoof, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of bluesplit63
5/5  rDev +16.8%

bluesplit63, Oct 07, 2012
Photo of Seru1
4.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this at a beer dinner on 7/25/09

Appearance- Perfectly black with red round the ends like a glass of old port. There's no head to really speak of

Smell- French oak aromas. Like a fine french wine or a Glenlevit 15. Vanilla, honey, and red berry. There is a ton to take in in the nostril arena. Like a very fine scotch I never had a beer this intense.

Taste- Big Flavors of cherry and vanilla swim around the tongue with hints of oak and leather. Just like sipping a fine old scotch, it's hard not to gush but this beer stole my heart.

Mouthfeel- Full bodied and wonderfully lasting, comforting. Phenomenal beer.

Drinkability- I wish it weren't only available in a cask and so rare, because I would love to drink this beer all day long.

Seru1, Jul 27, 2009
Photo of jczn
4.9/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into wine glass.

A: Black with a very small, tan, lacy head. Hard to get a great idea of the appearance because of the low light. (4.0)

S: Aroma of whiskey and oak were fairly prominent, with some vanilla. The whiskey smell was fairly sweet and reminded me of Irish whisky rather than Scotch. (5.0)

F: Chocolate and Some bitterness from dark grains on the front end as well as alcoholic warmth. The immediate aftertaste is whisky, followed a moment later by earthy peat smoke. If the aroma is Irish whisky, the flavor is definitely Scotch. (5.0)

M: Thinner than most strong ales, barleywines or stouts, yet with more carbonation than the head would lead you to expect. Very well attenuated, the mouthfeel was not what I expected, yet it was still pleasing. (4.5)

D: A fantastic beer, it has a level of complexity usually only found in a few Belgians, or a rich red wine. It's certainly worth trying, but at the price I probably won't be drinking it again for a while. (5.0)

jczn, Aug 28, 2010
Photo of STEG
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Mysterious, jet black, off white head

S-Nutty, Dark fruit, charcoal, vanilla, chocolate, burnt sugar, humidor smell

T-bittersweet chocolate, chestnuts, charcoal, ample sweetness and spiciness really wonderful stuff. reminds me of the highland park 12 yr.

M-Oily and slightly syrupy very low carbonation

D-One bottle is enough for me given the price and the fact that I dont think i could have another one. Although it was quite an experience.

STEG, May 11, 2010
Photo of kwjd
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque black with a thin tan head that sticks around. Lacing down the glass. On the nose, lots of smokiness, peat and oak. It smells like a nice scotch. The scotch smoke and peat of the scotch flavour is very apparent in this to go along with the roasted malt. I think I get a little bit of vanilla and chocolate too. It has a nice chocolaty after taste, with definite hints of scotch. It goes down very smooth, not overly carbonated, which is nice.

I had the Ola Dubh 12 earlier today and while they are fairly similar, I prefer this one due to the extra flavour from the scotch.

kwjd, Feb 28, 2010
Photo of GBalbin
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beer unlike anything I've ever drank. I knew that this beer was aged in barrels used for maturation of Single Malt 40 years Whisky, however, I could not imagine that the notes of whiskey would be so present and very well placed, giving a complexity to this different and sensational beer! Color: black that seems black oil. Viscous texture, almost like a liqueur. Aroma of vanilla, oak, whiskey, something smoked, roasted malts, bitter chocolate and coffee, all that just in aroma! Flavor of roasted malt, sweet, sour, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, wine (Madeira and Porto) and especially whiskey and oak wood. Low carbonation and long aftertaste of whiskey, alcohol and coffee. I recommend to everyone!

GBalbin, Aug 23, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cask tapped at the opening of Birch and Barley / Churchkey in Washington DC. Beer served in a snifter. Beer is dark, big bubble brown head, nearly non-existant and disappears quickly, low carbonation, no head to speak of.

Aroma is sweet and creamy. Not what I expected. No hop, no alcohol to speak of, maybe slightly. The sweetness is not the brightness of the alcohol at all, more like chocolate, almost raisin.

This beer in insanely smooth. Some woody notes in the flavor, really sweet up front, almost nothing in the back, medium body, great mouthfeel, drinkability really high. No aftertaste. Beautifully balanced beer all around.

drabmuh, Oct 23, 2009
Photo of champ103
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A huge thanks to Gram for bringing this to a tasting. My all time favorite series.

A: Pour a nearly dark black with some light ruby highlights around the edges. A small bubbly tan head forms on first pour, but recedes to nothing in a second. Not much lace is left behind.
S: Just an awesome aroma of peat, smoke, wood, chocolate, and light coffee. A toffee and vanilla sweetness intermingles with the wood/barrel aromas. Excellent.
T: Again, excellent. Everything is in impeccable balance. Smoke, peat, wood with chocolate, toffee, and vanilla. I can not get enough of this.
M/D: A full body that is low on the carbonation. Though not under carbonated at all. Velvety smooth and just decadent. So enjoyable and easy to drink. I wish the bottle would never end.

There should be no surprise that this is just a world class beer. The barrel aging, texture, and flavors are all perfectly balanced. Which makes for an incredibly enjoyable drink. I don't know if I like this or the 30 better. Both amazing and highly recommended.

champ103, Sep 12, 2011
Photo of leonardopacu
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

drink 42178, januar 2009

smell of chocolate, caramel, coffee and whiskey.
thing very black, brown foam, and fleeting
body heavy, sticky and gummy.
and intense flavor of whiskey, oak,
sweet and bitter and the alcohol very well placed.
very balanced, great.

leonardopacu, Jul 26, 2010
Photo of DCgolfpro
4.75/5  rDev +11%

DCgolfpro, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of Snowrs
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Snowrs, Mar 20, 2012
Photo of davidwhatshisnam
4.75/5  rDev +11%

davidwhatshisnam, May 03, 2014
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on cask, gravity poured at the Brick Store Pub. I'm a great lover of whisky or whiskey laced beers, at least via the barrel, and this one is no exception. Superb, and my favorits of the series after the 30 year cask. Pours black with no head, but no worries here. Smells of peat, the barrel, and whisky. Very smooth and balanced and not in the least bit hot- compared to say, the 18 which was quite so. The taste is beautifully balanced with lots of restrained whiskey character. Briny, smooth, peaty, malty, and simply whiskyish. Wonderful. Ultra smooth in the mouth and deliciously drinkable.

Georgiabeer, May 06, 2009
Photo of JBarx
4.75/5  rDev +11%

JBarx, Aug 19, 2012
Photo of bobsy
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, shared with Shawn, with the Ola Dubh 12 on the side for comparison.

Pours a midnight black with a creamy tan head that drops to a collar, and leaves some nice spots and streaks of lace on the way down. The aroma is awesome - smooth scotch notes with smoke and earth, jiving with chocolate and caramel. Alcohol is well-hidden.

Likewise, the flavour is successfully delivered. Huge scotch notes throughout, with vanilla, oak and smoke dominating. This remarkably smooth combination is heightened by the sweet presence of the chocolate and caramel. Again the alcohol is fairly well-hidden, but does deliver a pleasant warming sensation. The body is perfectly matched, with a silky smoothness that plays of the flavours nicely. Carbonation is practically absent, but it works.

Awesome beer! I was concerned that it would be a big bust considering its hefty price tag, but after drinking the Ola Dubh 30 on tap I should have known better. Deliciously complex and sublime... I'm glad I still have another bottle!

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 30 - perfect barrel character, which blends in decadently with chocolate from the Old Engine Oil (4.75)

bobsy, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of randylangford
4.75/5  rDev +11%

randylangford, Jun 12, 2013
Photo of DaPan
4.75/5  rDev +11%

DaPan, Aug 03, 2013
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 165 ratings.