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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.

165 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 165
Reviews: 110
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 71
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: 165 | Reviews: 110 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AgentMunky
3.68/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into an Ommegang glass. From notes. Reviewed 9 July 2011.

A: No head. Very dark. Opaque with mid-dark edges clinging to the side of the glass.

S: Bourbony -- vanilla and wood-aged oaky excellence. It doesn't get much better than this in the nose. Sherry casked scotch? Tobacco (or something else)? So damn good.

T: Huh. Not that great. The endtaste is quite sweet, with a winey-round maintaste. Leathery? There is a huge amount of flavour in the taste, but it's not always very directed.

M: Really smooth, sweet, and nice.

O: Goodish, but not worth the price jump. Would I recommend it? No. Would I drink it again if offered? Hell yes.

AgentMunky, Apr 14, 2012
Photo of eawolff99
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%

eawolff99, Apr 07, 2012
Photo of joshodonn
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

joshodonn, Mar 24, 2012
Photo of OSUBeerStudent
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

August 2010 bottle date into a snifter. Glad to get this one - still need a couple to try the complete collection, but I'll gladly skip the 18/30 for this.

A - Opaque, creamy brown/black. Fairly dense mocha head on pouring that sticks around a good bit. This gets the extra score over the others because it's persistent.

S - A very clean, woody, dark fruit and malt. The peat is definitely in the background here, letting the malt and wood itself take over. This is more on the roasty side than sweet for sure - the whisky is very much on the back, binding it all together.

T - molasses and dark fruit lead off with a bit of the wood from the barrel. The fruit feeds directly into the wood and whisky, which has a delightful but fairly subtle peat flavor. The finish is surprisingly dry and woody given the rest of it. Just excellent flavor here. I feel like this version shows off the base beer more than the others I've had, which is a definite positive in my mind. Really delicious beer.

M - Here's the real problem with this one. The carbonation is very (too) high. It's fizzy. The feel on the others was great, but this one is not. Very sad - makes it a bit harder to drink it, while the other components make it really good.

Overall this one was great. Not good, but great. The taste was fantastic, smell was great, appearance was fantastic, but the mouthfeel was a noticeable flaw. Besides that, though, this was definitely a beer to seek out. Even with the very high price (think I paid around $18 for an 11.2oz) I would definitely buy this beer again. Yet more incentive to finish the available ones.

OSUBeerStudent, Mar 21, 2012
Photo of Snowrs
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Snowrs, Mar 20, 2012
Photo of YalovaIA
4/5  rDev -6.5%

YalovaIA, Feb 26, 2012
Photo of Hard2Guard908
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Hard2Guard908, Feb 20, 2012
Photo of Tyrawlings
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Tyrawlings, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of Pencible
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Pencible, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of jbonapar
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in Halfiax NS, Canada.

Never knew this existed!

Poured a BLACK creamy thickness with a Thick coal colored head. Wow.

SMell is Oak. Whiskey. Vanilla. Slightly smokey and peaty.

Taste is dam fine. An oaky-sweetness hits the palate but quickly the sweetness fades and a strong spiciness takes over. The oak stays but then the bitterness comes in and is strong at the end...As the bitterness fades, the oak comes back.

What a fantastic beer. Complex, different and unique.

Worth trying for sure if you can find it.

jbonapar, Jan 27, 2012
Photo of JGuill
5/5  rDev +16.8%

JGuill, Jan 18, 2012
Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -6.5%

KAF, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of Stigs
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle, served in a small tulip

A - pours with a short lived finger of creamy yet loose, light khaki foam which settles to a thin film, leaving some lacing behind. the beer is mostly black, letting in a faint amount of light around the edges.

S - whiskey on the forefront, yet doesnt overpower scents of sweet caramel, raisin, vanilla, and faint minerals. warming opens up hints of oak, earthy smoke.

T - semi-sweet off the bat: caramel, light milk chocolate, and vanilla. turns to some faint earthy hops, slightly oxidized with bits of dark fruit and sherry. whiskey is present but dances in the background, finishing with a flash of alcohol and oak. smoke develops nicely as it warms to room temperature.

M - medium body alongside some moderate carbonation. after settling for a few minutes, body becomes a little richer with a syrup like quality that lingers after the swallow. alcohol burn is at a minimum, this one finishes fairly clean with some lingering vanilla sweetness.

O - yummy old ale here, whiskey aging (narrowly) adds another dimension. falls a bit short of being elite due to a somewhat lacking mouthfeel, and slightly oxidized taste. wondering if this one isnt best really fresh. would try again.

Stigs, Jan 15, 2012
Photo of ohtheguilt
4/5  rDev -6.5%

ohtheguilt, Jan 04, 2012
Photo of imbuckeye
5/5  rDev +16.8%

imbuckeye, Jan 02, 2012
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 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 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 jophish17
4/5  rDev -6.5%

jophish17, Dec 23, 2011
Photo of kkipple
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

**from extensive notes**

On draft, out of a cask! at the world-class Brick Store Pub's 14th Anniversary party, where the hits just kept on coming. I should note that this was the second-best beer of the day for me, and we were there for over 10 hours. Allagash Little Big Beer being the winner.

A. Served in the Ola Dubh goblet, which itself is a thing of beauty. Olda Dubh 40 is a gorgeous ying / yang of inky darkness and dense, dark tan foam that provides zero lace, yet never falters over the age this took to drink. The ale is still, there are no bubbles to be seen. Imposing, for sure.

S. Magnificent. One could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, this really didn't start to get interesting till it was nearly room temperature. Once it is, the nose can stand against nearly any other barrel aged beer in existence. The aroma is heavy, sweet, complex and smoky, extremely dense and complementary. Smoked pork and a fascinating, 'sea breeze' mellow Scotch are all here, sweet and alluring, blended and lush. There is zero sharpness here, just soft layers of heavy black delight. No improvement possible.

T. The flavor on display is only slightly less impressive. To put it bluntly, this is really for people who appreciate whiskey, and Scotch in particular. It's a mature, comprehensive, contemplative beer, and one that demands attention and slow savoring. Sweet, first, and heavy; everything here is roasted. A hint of barrel-sour falls into an earthy, salty, oily well. Again, nothing here is sharp or even bold.

M / O. Earthy and damp, the finish is wonderfully long and meandering. Lower carbonation (cask, remember) emphasizes just how dense and hearty this beer is. Simply delightful, but I feel like you have to have facial hair to fully appreciate this.

Bottom line: This is the most mellow and challenging of the Ola Dubh lineup, and in my opinion the best. I'm sure the cask presentation adds to the allure. Now with two weeks left in the year, this remains as one of the very best beers I've had in 2011. I do hope to have it again, but I'm willing to wait as the beer did for me.

A quick word on price: yes, this can be silly expensive in the bottle, you may end up paying over $20 for it. Is it that much better than the 12 year (which I rated a 4.4)? For some of you, it will be. If you have a whiskey-tooth and give this one the time and attention it deserves, it's worth the cash.

kkipple, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle poured into a taster glass. Thanks for sharing Chris! Bottle #50734, January 2009.

(A)- Pours pitch black with some tan bubbles. Not super thick, but this looks heavy.

(S)- Nice rich aroma of cocoa, prune, raisin, molasses, and oak. A great barrel character to it with obvious notes of the briney whiskey too.

(T)- Just like the smell in alot of ways. A briney whiskey oak character up front with chalky cocoa, raisin, and prune.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level and a solid balance. Great barrel/whiskey characters without being boozy at all.

(D)- Another great lineup in the Ola Dubh line. An extremely expensive bottle to say the least, but damn enjoyable. I still think the edge goes to the 30yr overall, now finally having every one in this lineup.

sweemzander, Dec 18, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

djrn2, Dec 10, 2011
Photo of imperialking
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

imperialking, Dec 07, 2011
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 peensteen
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #28897

Near jet black, ring of bubbly off white head, light lace. Smell is iof roasted malt, peat, oak with bold whisky notes, vanilla, black liquorice, light anise scents. Taste is of roast malt, coffee, oak with subtle whisky but less than the nose indicates, lots of malt, mildly bitter and very complex, more whisky tones in the finish. Light carbonation, silky and creamy feel, full bodied. Very good stuff here, tasty and complex, truly amazing stuff.

peensteen, Dec 02, 2011
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
95 out of 100 based on 165 ratings.