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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.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

167 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 167
Reviews: 110
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 73
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
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Ratings: 167 | Reviews: 110 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with no head. Like a cask in a bottle, but there is some carbonation. A sipper, with whiskey, dark fruit even imperial stout characteristics with a tad of roast and chocolate. Richness in taste, above average mouthfeel. Some sweetness helped. Have with a full meal.

Sammy, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

djrn2, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours black with no head or lacing. Nice pitch black color. The nose is really complex and intriguing with whiskey, oak, light vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of alcohol. The taste is a bit overly boozy but still quite nice with a lot of whisky and chocolate. The booze fits well in the feel as it's interspersed throughout and finishes nicely. Drinks well; nice sipper.

Thorpe429, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a deep black color ale with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet roasted malt with dominating notes of warming scotch is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by loads of scotch notes with some light vanilla and oak with marries very well with the base sweetness form the malt. Body is quite full with a creamy texture and some good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Very well done and would buy some again even with the steep price tag.

Phyl21ca, Mar 29, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

completely opaque except for just the smallest amount of reddish brown that peaked through on the sides when you held it up directly to the light, but still this was enormously big looking.

deep caramel smell coming off of this, literally took me by surprise. Nice aroma of oak and alcohol mixing and swirling around with it now, really starting to pick up steam the warmer it got. Warm oak infused notes of brandy like alcohol running over the tongue, so sweet and sugary. As you roll it around you start to notice there is a little bit of a bitter bite to this one. Way down deep under all of the malt, there was a subtle bitter hoppiness, very grainy and earthy, but it was there, and really pushed through on the finish. Long drawn out finish it was, The alcohol was so well blended, it was a deadly combination. Soo mellow and smooth, understated, it lured you in and would not let you go. The body was as rich and smooth as the flavorDeep dark fruit now coming through for me, really started to actually dominate the scene all together. Huge raisin and plum notes giving it that sweet but yet tart dark fruit flavor we all come to love. A spicy touch in the back perhaps, but here comes that little bit of bitterness to wrap it all up.

mikesgroove, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

ygtbsm94, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

jaydoc, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

single finger head with some scattered lacing on a jet black body without any light passing through. smokey and confectioners chocolate sweetness to the aroma. Incredibably smooth chocolate, toffee and vanilla flavor. Nicely complex with each flavor standing out. moderate carbonation and full bodied. Overall a very smooth and drinkable beer for its genre. Complex and memorable. An excellent beer though not very much like olde ales I have tried.

kylehay2004, Dec 30, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I fell in love with this beer the first time I had it a few years ago now I've had the chance of having it again and it still kicks ass. The pour is a great black color with a tan head that leaves a nice ring around the top of the glass. The smell is so awesome, it's got a magical sweet smell. The whiskey wooden smell adds to it. It's hard to really explain but it's great. The beer tastes sweet and with a whiskey back bone. There is some vanilla in there not much chocolate but a little bit and a good amount of smokiness there too. The flavors are strong and very pleasing. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth with some light carbonation. The overall take on this brew is just really good in my opinion. I could drink a lot of this but it's very pricey.

Knapp85, May 16, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

JAHMUR, Dec 04, 2013
Photo of largadeer
3.73/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grabbed a bottle of this at the Pizza Port bottle shop in Carlsbad last Sunday, split later that day with HopHead84 while trying to pacify his maniacal dog.

Pours a dark chestnut brown, black and opaque in the snifter, with a dark brown head that quickly settles to a disc. Aromas of baking chocolate, smoke and peat are most prominent. There's a hint of heat from the Scotch barrel. The taste closely resembles the aroma, with baking chocolate and smoke up front, followed by subtle peat. The beer is medium-bodied and dry. The barrel character is well-integrated but quite dominant; a bolder base beer may have been better suited for Scotch barrels. Good stuff all the same.

largadeer, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of biboergosum
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Packaged in a nice whisky-esque faux-wood grain box, with a small heavy medallion affixed to the neck of the bottle by a string, which announced my arrival wherever I carried this bad boy. Since I obtained this from the Summerhill LCBO in Toronto, that has been no small number of places...

This beer pours the (not 'a') black void, full stop. No edges, no tints, nada. It gives up two fingers of creamy mocha head, which melts away quickly, rendering a pencil-thin circumference of lace around the glass. It smells of non-Islay island whisky - very mild peat smoke, soft seaside iodine, oaky caramel, a bit of chocolate, a bit of oily nuttiness. The taste is lighted roasted caramel malt, Highland Park whisky barrel - mild, balanced smoke, peat, iodine, chocolate, and vanilla. The expected alcohol is notable only by its perceived absence. The carbonation is practically non-existent, the body full, creamy, oily ('Dubhish'?), and thick, and it finishes fairly sweet, offset a fair bit by the briny barrel attributes.

A lovely union of ale and whisky making expertise. Eminently enjoyable and drinkable for every reason but the price - 18 Canuckbucks, and in Ontario only, for that matter. That said, it was difficult to ignore this offering, given that I recently finished the 12 and 18 year old Highland Park malt whiskies, and trying the 40 year old, by proxy, I just couldn't say no. Like the fine whiskies, worth trying once for the extravagance alone.

biboergosum, Jun 12, 2010
Photo of nickfl
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours with one finger of medium brown foam on an opaque, black body. The head settles quickly and leaves light lace.

S - chocolate, oak, and dark caramel with a background note of vanilla.

T - bittersweet chocolate and caramel with a transition to toffee and a hint of raisin in the middle. Finishes with smoke, raisins, chocolate, and toffee as well as a lingering vanilla note.

M - medium body, moderately low carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - lots of influence from the barrel, but the caramel and chocolate shine through. There is a but more sweetness than necessary but it is still a very nice beer.

nickfl, Dec 30, 2011
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

RblWthACoz, Oct 21, 2012
Photo of MasterSki
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stumbled across this at Sam's South Loop and figured I should give it a shot. Served in an Atomium snifter.

A - Surprising foam for an old ale - a half finger of tan foam that dissipates fairly quickly to a ring. Black with some dark, dark brown hints at the fringes of the glass.

S - Dark fruits, smokey peat, wood, whiskey, chocolate, roast malts. Nice balance while rich and complex. It's a little boozy but it obviously is stylistically appropriate.

T - The taste is much smoother, without as much of the whisky flavor and more of the dark fruit old ale/barleywine flavor going on. There's still some wood flavor in the aftertaste, but I don't get as much of the smoke or whiskey flavor. The milder taste makes it easier to drink but also makes me feel cheated a little compared to the wonderful smell.

M - Consider this was basically a cask-only offering until now I'm pretty satisfied with the mild carbonation and medium-to-thick body. It's not totally flat but it's very smooth and leaves behind some dry smokiness and sticky caramel sensations.

D - The 4oz serving was plenty after two pints of Double Jack, but I'm pretty confident I could have had the whole bottle if it was earlier in the session. The aftertaste is smoky but not overwhelming, and the ABV is surprisingly low for a barrel-aged brew that is this rich in flavor.

I'm going to have to re-visit the other Ola Dubh brews to compare them against this one. If you're a Scotch whiskey lover this is worth trying for sure.

MasterSki, Jul 04, 2009
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 jwc215
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle no. 48684 - Bottled in January 2009 -

Pours very dark brown to black with a fading light brown head that becomes a thick ring.

The smell is of vanilla/oak with chocolate, some smoke and a hint of anise.

The taste of whisky blends with chocolate - less woody and more whiskyish than I remember the others being (esp. the 18, which I had shortly before this one). Sweet with some woody and peat smoke dryness in the finish.

Hits full-body with light-to-medium carbonation.

Potent - whisky sharpness shows on this one. It has a dark malty, lightly smoked character along with the wood/whisky barrel character. Very nice, though not worth the $20 an 11.2 oz. bottle for this one, IMO.

jwc215, Dec 09, 2009
Photo of imperialking
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

imperialking, Dec 07, 2011
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 mothman
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Firkin Fest 2010 a little after the Ola Dubh 18

Pours a 1/4 finger of fizzy tan head. Color is oil black. Very thick.

Aroma: Identical to the 18 year but more rounded it. Huge whiskey/bourbon and oak flavors. Roasted malts and chocolate. Fairly rich.

Taste: More whiskey flavors than the 18. Doesn't taste like beer really. Bigger oak flavors as well. Very interesting.

Mouthfeel: Hot, warming, and smooth. Well done. Low carbonation with a full body. Ends warm.

Overall., better than the 18 year. However it is not like beer, but more of a whiskey. Fairly drinkable for what it is.

mothman, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of ejimhof
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

ejimhof, Jul 24, 2013
Photo of BARFLYB
3.3/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz expensive ass bottle into a snifter with oglmcdgl, bottle number 56028.

A- Ola Dubh 40 is black, it's not jet black, but it's pretty dark. Just a small whispy small tannish cap on top with some very light lacing. The liquid does not look as thick as other versions.

S- Whiskey, and alot of it. All I can smell is the Kentucky elixer for a while before some warming brings out some smoke/peat with minimal chocolate. A good amount of roasted malt. A whiskey bomb in it's own right.

T- Yep, pretty much a whiskey bomb. It takes up about 80% of the taste while the remaining 20% is made up of all the other smells that I mentioned above. Tastes like it smells.

M- The 40 year old version seems to have a thinner body than other versions, or maybe it's just the 40 year whiskey barrel that just comes out with vigor. Either way this feels a few steps above medium bodied with a light and almost non existant carbonation. It's a bit hot on the mouth and not all to coating.

D- Im glad I split this bottle because I did not dig the huge whiskey tastes. No way I could enjoy a whole bottle of this to the head. I really enjoyed the lighter versions of this (12, 16) but this is a bit too much for me. Perhaps a few years of aging will tone down the whisk, but that's what this beer is all about, so I'll just pass this one on the shelves forever now, no need for a redo.

BARFLYB, Aug 15, 2010
Photo of jdhilt
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a three finger light tan head that fades very slowly to a thin layer, leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Strong whiskey nose. Medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Flavor is sweet burnt coffee and whiskey. Nice old ale but so is Harviestoun's 12 year that is $9 cheaper. Ages well, bottled 1/2009. Beyond expensive at $18.00 for ONE 330ml bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

jdhilt, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of John_M
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap/cask at Mahaffey's the other day.

The beer pours a blacksih brown color with fairly good head retention and lacing. The nose on this beer is attractive, consisting of molasses, peat, light chocolate and vanilla. The peatiness in this beer is very dominant in this beer and is almost too much of a good thing. Nevertheless, like the 30, it adds some additional comlexity to the aroma that is attractive and intriguing. The beer is pretty delicious on the palate, with the flavors replicating the nose. The beer has a very soft, plush mouthfeel, with a long, creamy finish. Alcohol is pretty well disguised and I had no problem knocking back a couple of 5 ounce glasses.

A nice beer, though I'm not sure it's any better then the 30. Unless they were priced similarly, I would probably always get the 30.

John_M, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ola Dubh 40 emerges from the practically ancient barrel black as night with no room for highlights what so ever. As for carbonation, that train obviously left the station long ago. The liquid is flat and no amount of swirling can bring back what extended barrel aging and nearly three years in the bottle undid. So what, it still looks great.

The beer itself may only be 8% but it's absorbed enough alcohol to make one dizzy. The other side of that, of course, is that the depth in the aroma seems to be endless. It's not so great as to be inappreciable by human noses, mind you, but it packs plenty of black licorice, smooth spice, smoke, and macerated coffee beans.

The brewery figured I'd have until April of 2012 to enjoy this beer at peak performance, but I've got to believe that it's best days are already behind it. A lot of its roasty, stout-like flavours are diminished and the whiskey notes aren't as prevalent as they are in the other offerings. Unlike HP 40, this one won't hold up indefinitely.

There are common threads that run through every beer in this series. All share, to one degree or another, the taste of scorched earth and peat, oceanside brine, heather and earthy honey, but Ola Dubh 40 has much more smoky wood character. It brings the barrel right into your living room, but tempers it into a silken texture.

After trying every other offering in the series, I wasn't convinced that the more expensive bottles were more complex beers. Ola Dubh 40 was the first $20 beer that I wondered, not if I would be worthy of it, but whether it would be worthy of me. Turns out, I prefer the 16, 18, and 30. If I buy another Ola Dubh, it won't be this one.

biegaman, Oct 07, 2011
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 167 ratings.