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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

356 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 356
Reviews: 127
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 31
Gots: 93 | FT: 5
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: Nickls on 01-29-2009

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 356 | Reviews: 127
Reviews by bagpiper2005:
Photo of bagpiper2005
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour: Absolutely jet black. Thin ring of light brown head that settles into a little circle of bubbles around the edge of the glass. Leaves little streaks of lacing.

Aroma: Intense licorice aroma up front with a bit of a Scotch-like boozy quality. Some dark fruits in there, a little bit of caramel and chocolate malt underneath everything. Very appetizing.

Taste: Like Old Engine Oil turned up a bit. Caramel, chocolate, a bit of vanilla, and some ripe currants. A hint of peaty Scotch goodness with a slightly warm finish that also has a hint of coffee snuck in there. A bit alcoholic but it's not harsh and makes for an integral component in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium, creamy body. Low to medium carbonation and silky smooth on the palate. Just about spot-on.

Drinkability/overall: Smooth drinking and satisfying. Intense, complex, and a bit filling. Almost as good as it gets.

Final Notes: A good beer to warm up with as we move into the winter months, or for scotch lovers looking to get into beer. Imagine drinking this one after a hot bowl of soup in the dead of winter. Incredible beer. Expensive, but oh-so worth it.

More User Reviews:
Photo of MadScientist
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Very black showing a hint of deep garnet on the edges. The head is very thin but is long lasting and made of a fine medium brown bubbles.

S: Moderate whiskey and malt aromas that well balanced, the smoky and peaty scotch notes blend well with the beer although the light roast and bit of chocolate notes are more stout-like than old ale. There isn't much in the way of hops. There is a light note of stone fruit in there as well. Alcohol is evident and soft.

T: A smooth and palate coating beer with a moderate whisky flavor and a light malt sweetness. The malt has a slight raisin character along with bringing a touch of cocoa and little roast.There is a moderately-light hops bitterness. Some moderately-light oak character comes through as well. The balance is slightly bitter. The finish is medium and the aftertaste is a long lingering whisky flavor blended with a moderate alcohol.

M: Full bodied and slightly slick with moderately-light carbonation.

O: A heavy, sipping beer with layers of flavor and a great balanced whisky character.

BottleNo. 72188
& Date: July 2011

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Working my way up the ladder.
Bottle #05835
Bottled Feb 2009
Black color, tiny tan head.
Aroma of raisin bread and whiskey.
The whiskey aroma was more peaty in the taste. Still the raisin bread was there.
Pretty smooth and mellow.
Nice beer. Will drink more of these.

Photo of pat61
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours nearly black with a quickly receding thin tan foam cap.
S: Rich malt and moderate scotch aromas, some fruit.
T: The Highland Park Scotch shows up stronger on the palate than on the nose supported by complex malt flavors, a light sweetness, hints of fruit and rich vanilla flavors.
F: Chewy with medium low carbonation, very smooth.
O: A wonderful old ale provides a rich base for fine whiskey flavors.

Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at the Brick Store in Atlanta.

Pours completely black with a two-finger brown large-bubbled head that recedes quickly into a thin ring around the glass.

Smells of whiskey with hints of smoked/roasted malts. As it warms hints of chocolate come out.

Tastes similar to how it smells, although chocolate flavors have more of a presence. Whiskey flavors kick things off, and just before they seem overpowering give way to roasted malts and dark chocolate. There's a mildly bitter ending, then the whiskey flavors linger for a bit.

Mouthfeel is good. This was the second day the cask was tapped so there was almost no carbonation, but what little there was served its purpose.

Drinkability is good. I feel like I could drink a lot of these in a cigar-smoked filled room with my own in my hand, but in normal conditions one is enough.

Overall I thought there was a bit more whiskey influence on the 18 year than in the 12 year, but other than that they seemed very similar.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a teku)
bottle 07696
Date Feb 2009

A- The jet black body supports a fizzy light tan head that is creamy until it fades to a thin ring. This beer is a bit to dense to see any carbonation except for the random bubble that pops at the surface.

S- The blend of smoke and barrel oak lets a few notes of toffee and caramel bled through before the smooth black roasted malt finishes the nose.

T- The smoky taste if full with a mescal quality and some slight saltiness to it. Then a thin black malt roasted flavor peaks through before the smoky oak flavor finishes with a slight bacon quality.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel and a bright little fizz with just a touch of alcohol that only comes through when warmed a bit.

O- The nice rich smoky flavor has no band-aid or off qualities at all and is supported by a smooth stout with some flavors developing a bit as it warms. Very nice sipper.

Photo of biboergosum
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330ml black foil-capped bottle. Now I'm into Ola Dubh territory where I've at least had the chance to try the eponymous whiskey malt - here's to ye, Scotland's famous son.

This beer pours a mahogany-tinted black oil colour, with very slight reddish edges, and one skinny finger of thinly creamy and bubbly tan head, which dissipates rather quickly, essentially leaving a few specks of paramecia lace around the glass.

Wafting from the glass is a lovely Highland Park malt aroma analogue - caramel and vanilla cream malt, soft smoked peat, and an agreeably mild ocean air's bounty of salt spray and iodine. The taste kicks off with a solid bittersweet chocolate tinged caramel malt, a hint of dilute treacle, ashen peat, real vanilla, supermarket honey, a drug-store medicinal acridity, herbal tea leaves, and a soft musty, weedy hoppiness.

As the weak head seems to have given up the remainder of the bubbles, the carbonation is quite innocuous at best, leading to a very smooth, and somewhat creamy medium-full weight body. It finishes with a big barrel sweetness flourish - caramel, vanilla, and oaken woodiness, only slightly offset by the underlying alcohol and musty seaside edge.

Having previously enjoyed the 18 year old Highland Park whisky, I'm delighted to find the same beauty in this spin-off project from its countrymen - all the weight of a well-made, generous malt, blended into a world-class cocoa-heavy porter, and still full of an island character delivered with the deftest of touches. Sublime, aye, this is.

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Middle of the pack enjoyment of the series. Must do a vertical one night. Pours black, wiskey smoke aromas. Milk chocolate taste, a little more bitter at the end of the bottle. Bit more than medium mouthfeel. Whiskey is right there.Good drinkability.

Photo of nickd717
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Peter from Angelica's in Redwood City, who was nice enough to provide us with this excellent beer while we were having a tasting there. Great guy, good to see more people running quality beer establishments in this area.

A - Pours black and fairly viscous with a nice tan head.

S - Great aroma of smoke, chocolate, tobacco, leather, and scotch whisky.

T - Flavor is similarly complex with lots to it: roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, smoke, Copenhagen tobacco (this is not a bad thing), vanilla, and wood. Also some Scotch whisky of course. Rounds out very well.

M - Body is medium and palate is smooth.

D - Good, strong flavors do not overwhelm at all. Overall a great beer!

Photo of MacGyver88
4.91/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

According to the label, it was bottled in 2011. Poured a nice inky black, but with very little head. The taste was exceptional and smooth, with the scotch present the whole time but never overpowering. Though the head was slight, it did lace the glass nicely as I drank it. Overall, a wonderful experience.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.85/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330 mL bottle poured into a Hair of the Dog tulip. Bottled July 2011.

Appearance - Dark black with an ample khaki head in the neck of the tulip. Probably looks more impressive as a result of the glass. Sticks and laces nicely.

Smell - A vast improvement over the 12 and 16. This one has a touch of oak, but much more chocolate and a touch of sweetness. I don't know how the chocolate comes out more when it's the same base beer, but it seems to. Some smokey whiskey, but only a bit.

Taste - Also an improvement, but not as dramatic as the nose. Chocolatey of the milky variety. Bitter hops and some smokey notes. A vanilla character permeates without ever being strong. Oak in the finish, but a much higher quality. No ash to it. I still don't love the base beer, but the barrel seems to have made an improvement this time.

Mouthfeel - Bitter and creamy. Oaky, but better than 12 by a mile.

Overall - I thought that the ages of the barrels would be a gimmicky imperceptible difference. Maybe it is and Harviestoun is changing something besides the barrels. This one definitely seems to be a marked improvement over both the 12 and the 18. I have a 30 left and we'll see if that one is better than this.

Photo of eat
3.77/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown body with wisps of beige head. Fairly plain looking.

Complex nose: pumpernickle, dried cherries, demerarra sugar, slight scotch (though not too much). Quite bready.

Darkly flavoured: dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, earthy hops, grainy whiskey, a little smoke. Pretty nice but I'd like some more supporting malt. A little too boozy as well, could use some more age. The scotch element is nicely incorporated.

Could definitely be thicker bodied, especially given the name. Medium body with low carbonation. The feel is almost a little silky, which isn't too fitting here.

While this might be the best example of scotch-barrel aging I've tried, it's not approaching mind-blowing status. It's a good stout but at this price there are quite a few others I'd rather buy. From what I've heard, I'm just going to bite the bullet and shell out for the good stuff (30 and 40) next time I run into these.

Photo of Neffbeer
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From notes 12/17:

A: Oil spill black with a billowing off white head. Excellent retention and tons of sticky lacing, spectacular.

S: Peaty and smokey with some chocolate pumpernickel bread. Some fruit/esteriness starts to show up in the background as it warms.

T: Smoke bomb. This beer is so peaty and smokey that I have to do a double take. Wow. As I swoosh it around I get a burst of green apple. This is extremely unique and delicious, impressive.

M: Great mouthfeel, thick and viscous. Give me more.

D: I love good smokey scotch so it is no surprise that this beer impressed me. Great balance and drinkability. Get it when you see it.

Photo of pjkelley82
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Seen it on the shelf alongside the 12, 16, and 30th Aniv. and knew it was something fancy and probably some coin. Looked it up to see what it was, an old ale... well, I happen to love old ales and it got pretty decent ratings. So I bring it up to the counter expecting to put it back because it would be to much money and the guy says it's $10.99.... Ahhh, not too bad I'll take it. Shared this beer with my father-in-laws buddy who is a BMC drinker but loves Ale's and I share with often. What a lucky bastard...

Poured from bottle into mini snifters

A- Dark Black, hint of brown. Small light brown head, left a nice ring that stayed throughout consumption. Thick and light in the glass with a heft amount of legs and a little bit of lacing.

S- Man oh man. Subdued but so rich, Chocolate, wood, figs, plums, bread, whiskey.

T- Wow, it just gets better and better. Even as it warmed and picked up more nuances. Started off with Chocolate and sweet whiskey, led into some tabacco, plums and figs, dark fruit, slight coffee, rich roast and bread. The warmer it got the more the dark fruit came alive while more cchocolate and roast while it was slightly cooler. I can't begin to tell you how easy drinking this was and the flavors were almost hidden, daring you to seek them out. Not in a bad way, but in a whole cow this beer is the truth kind of way.

M- Simply butter. Smooth and silky, Velvety, light and full, semi sticky, enough carbonationto meet your needs. Sublime.

O- The whole time I was saying my weak(as in fairly young and still learning) pallette would appreciate this beer more in 5 years when I can "really" enjoy this. That's how good this beer was. Even for me I found it simply masterfull. Everything balanced and nothing harsh. Great barrel blend, excellent base and smoother than a baby's bottom. We'll worth the price tag and my father-in-laws friend felt the same way. Seek this out. Simply world class with almost everything else looking up at it.

Photo of ChrisCage
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up on a weekend trip in Calgary and was told that this just became available in Alberta!

A- Pours a very dark brown...not quite a black like a porter but the hues remind me of potting soil colors, very dark and rich. The head is very dense, about one finger thick and is a deeper than normal tan color...it takes it's time retreating into a thin layer over the brew. Moderate lacing clings to the side of my glass.

S- Primary initial aroma of smoky wood and peaty malts. The sweetness breaks down further into dark chocolate, and dried fruits, like raisins and plum...perhaps a slight tinge of dried figs. There is some nuttiness blended in as well.... roasted almonds come to mind. There is some hop bitterness on the finish, but it isn't super dominant.

T- Like the aroma, there is a solid mixture of things going on here. There is some initial malt sweetness that hits the palate first, then the toasty charred wood makes itself known. The finish becomes bitter, but on a couple of different levels. There is rich cocoa bitterness, with hints of vanilla toffee to enhance this. There is some coffee notes to throw a slight earthy bitterness, and finally there is the hop bitterness right at the end to give it a lingering flavor after the swallow.

M- It is a rich, full bodied brew that reminds me of chewing on a piece of unsweetened chocolate. It also reminds me of slightly burnt toast as well as sipping on a islay whisky. The fine carbonation, albeit more than I expected, provides a creamy texture that glides around on the palate with ease.

D- For such a rich and tasty beer, the drinkability is high. I disagree with the brewery and think this is excellent on it's own, however, I'd love to try this with strong cheese or a rich beef or lamb stew. This is a true beer lovers' beer and I think that this is the cream of the crop when it comes to a whisky aged beer!

Photo of bluejacket74
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle, bottled in January 2009, bottle # 09207. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown with about a 1/4 inch tan head that went away pretty quickly. There is a good bit of lacing. Aroma is very nice, it smells like Scotch Whisky (peat, smoke), toffee, chocolate, roasted malt, and some iodine and dark fruit. The brew tastes like peat and smoke (from the Highland Park barrel aging), roasted malt, toffee, and a bit of iodine. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit coating but it does seem a little bit thin to me. Moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's easy and enjoyable to drink. I think this is a good brew, but then I also like smoky Scotch Whisky so I'm a bit biased. It is a pricey brew, but I thought it was worth it to try once.

Photo of Rutager
3.62/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure why, but I'm always suspicious about the product when I see such fancy packaging...

Appearance. Pours a dark brown, almost black with a very thin tan head.

Smell. Old peaty whiskey, sweet milk chocolate, molasses and roasty dark malts.

Taste. Smokey old wood and whiskey (not in a hot way), lightly sweet chocolate, some sour old coffee, roasty grains and molasses.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium carbonation.

Overall. Smells nice. Big smokey roasty flavours, but not especially enjoyable flavours in the base beer to compliment.

Photo of Docer
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Grabbed a 4 oz. pull of this at the Portland International Beer festival... wow...

- Great dark stout-like complexion with a mocha colored head.. dark raw brown n black..

- Woinderful chocolate malt notes, and vanilla from barrel.. oak and alcohol... sweet and crisp..

- Great sweet malts with a wonderful oak presence.. vanilla and smooth...

- Slightly chewy and dry but overall very mouth watering...

- Very easy and smooth to drink, just the right carbonation... cost me 6 tickets to get it... overall a super good dark old ale and being as old as it was... it certainly showed in the wonderful flavor and balance... a must have if you can!

Photo of BeerSox
4.85/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

330ml bottle (red label) into 25oz snifter. #09867, bottled Jan '09. Poured straight down the middle.

Only a sliver of ruby and amber highlights show up at the bottom, occupying about the same space as a nickel. The rest is pitch black with no light getting through. A one finger and frothy tan head ends up as a film along the top of the beer, with a patch of large bubbles and an even dense rim along the glass.

Slightly papery and earthy aromas, along with a little bit of vanilla, both from the aging process. Deep roasted malts along with a little bit of peppery spice. Some molasses, brown sugar, a bit of dark fruit. There's a bit of chocolate if you look for it. The alcohol is a touch noticeable. The aroma absolutely explodes from this one.

A little bit of a smoked malt flavor which lasts from beginning to end. Some more vanilla makes its way in. The malts are both burnt and creamy at the same time. A little bit of sweetness is in there, in the form of dark chocolate. Raisin makes its way in there somehow, but only a little. The feel is very velvety, smooth, adding to the drinkability. There's very little bitterness in this one, mostly coming from the scorched malts.

This is a highly complex ale, and probably my favorite so far out of the Ola Dubh series (I've also had 12 and 30). Wonderfully smooth, and easy to drink. I wish I had a 750ml or 22oz bomber of this, rather than just 11.2 ounces. Certainly one to be savored. Highly recommended.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.37/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted side-by-side with the 12 and 30.
Poured in to brandy snifter.

A - Dark black with half a finger of light brown head.

S - Sweet brown sugar and molasses, oak, vanilla, whisky. Very complex with no one note being overwhelming.

T - A nice whisky flavour up front that is perfectly balanced without being overwhelming; oak, vanilla and brown sugar round out the palate.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

Photo of vandemonian
3.63/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had Ola Dubh 18 on tap at ChurchKey in DC. 4 oz pour in a 9 oz snifter. Ola Dubh 18 is all malt, wood and bitterness. No subtlety. I didn't particularly like it.

A: Black with big 15 mm head. Great looking beer! 4.5

S: Smells like smoke and whiskey. 4

T: Malty with bitterness and woodiness. Malt. Bitter. Wood. Not much else. I don't particularly like it. 3.5

M: A llittle flat. 3

O: 3.5

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Nathaniel Square Corner Store. The 18 year version.

Pours a dark, tawny, rich brown color. No visible carbonation, barely any head, and a very small amount of lacing- few splotches on the glass.

Smells include scotch whiskey, smoke, chocolate and brown sugar.

The taste is similar. Pretty scotch whiskey forward- some smoke and peat, as well as milk chocolate, brown sugar, dark fruits, and tobacco.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for my liking, and there is essentially no carbonation. Not very drinkable because of this- requires slow sipping. Once it warms up, the alcohol becomes very noticeable.

Not my favorite BA beer I've ever had, but there are some good flavors. I wish it was a bit thicker, though.

Photo of Greywulfken
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

February 2012 bottling...

A: just odd for my expectation of an old ale - black but not quite opaque - some dark brown glassiness on the edges - didn't kick up much of any head despite a solid center-pour

S: very mild - not much there actually - something vaguely suggestive of chocolate malt, the barest nuance of whisky barrel wood and whisky...

T: incredible - subtle flavors throughout as age has probably married everything together quite compatibly - chocolate/cocoa and brown nut, barrel wood and Scotch whisky; hints of dark fruit like fig or plum, something like vanilla and peat; slight smoke on the finish

S: super smooth and mild - slim and light and effortless; some whisky vapor traces and a bit of bittersweet chocolate on the close; relatively clean-finishing, with but a trace of cocoa and smoky peat

O: stunner - admittedly, I have had no other version of Ola Dubh, nor have I had it fresh, but that aside - as a standalone experience, this was elegance defined. An $11 or $12 bottle, well worth every penny - highly recommended.

Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was very nice, with a thick, viscous look to it and a really dark menacing presence. There was a thin brown head, maybe one inch in height that came over the top and settled down gracefully into a nice crown of tan that stayed with it throughout the rest of the session. Very nice side glass lace was also apparent throughout the entire time.

The aroma was loaded with peat. This was not nearly as smoky as the 16 was and to be honest had a good deal more sweetness to it which was a bit surprising. The scotch and oak aromas were there, but light as this was coming in a little bit under what I had though, but was nonetheless very good. Still extremely rich and complex, I decided to go in and take a taste. Very smooth and creamy, with the body of it coming off very well indeed. It was a full bodied ale for sure, with the carbonation coming in a little bit above some of the others, offering it that nice silky feel at times. The rich flavor of peat was really coming across well. The light flavor of molasses and wood now coming to the front, with a touch of dark chocolate in there as well. Some nice dark fruity notes lingering way in the back, remnants of the barrel for sure

Photo of Traquairlover
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2-oz bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Very dark brown, with a small light brown to medium brown head of about 3/4 of an inch that dissipates rather quickly leaving medium amount of foam on the surface.

S = Creamy, chocolate malted shake sells with light oak and hints of the Scotch from the barrel, light burnt tree bark, peat moss, when swirled I get some esters from the yeast and some bit of alcohol bite. There is a very light burnt plastic that detracts somewhat, but it is very faint.

T = Tastes like a coffee drink, with a shot of Scotch, cream and dark chocolate powder, there is also a good bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt.

M = Medium-heavy bodied, great mouthcoating, frothy carbonation level when swished.

D = This is a very drinkable beer. I would recommend it for dessert or for any occasion when a whisky would be appropriate. This would also pair well with lamb.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 356 ratings.