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

365 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 365
Reviews: 130
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 30
Gots: 94 | FT: 7
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 365 | Reviews: 130
Photo of Manoftyr
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance-Pours a beautiful, nearly opaque black with only the faintest of red-mahogany highlights, a finger and a half of head rises and quickly recedes but leaves dabs of lacing along the rim, considering the barrel aging I'm surprised to see this much head at all. Sparkly, crisp little bubbles of carbonation leap to the top of the luxurious liquid sitting in the snifter before me; this looks to be a real treat I'm awaiting.

Aroma-The unmistakable scent of peat and highland park Scotch whiskey leap out at the nose balanced on a substantial blanket of sweet, darkly fruitlike malt. The Scotch is in no way overpowering but it makes its presence firmly felt achieving a truly brilliant balance, it's not as though you're just smelling Scotch with the beer as an afterthought; it's all one carefully wrapped package.

Taste-Amazing; dry yet subtly-sweet and toasty malts are the first to greet you on the palette with but a curious hint of peat on the edges, then, the scotch breaks forward in full force mid palette with all its complex and peaty goodness. The finish dials back on the scotch at first letting some more sweet malts come through and then *bam* right on the end of it you're left with an exit performance of smokey peat leaving you with a snappy, dry kick and 'for me at least' lust for another sip.

Mouthfeel-Plush with ample carbonation, I'm especially impressed given how I've found most barrel aged beers to lose something in the way of mouthfeel plushness; this is a clear exception, and the mouthfeel is structured perfectly for the flavors.

Drinkability/Overall-Brilliant, utterly brilliant, an absolute masterpiece of a beer; had I the money and it being avilable I would drink it be the gallon, this is fantastic.

Photo of JamesS
4.97/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a great pitch black in color with a great tan (if bit small) head, and just a little bit of lacing. It has a wonderful scent, part coffee, part whiskey, part malt, part hop, a near perfectly balanced scent that ends with a sweet note, slighty more to the cocoa and bourbon side. Wonderful taste, the whiskey flavor is there, but not overly dominant like so many other such beers; it has a great slight coffee start with a wonderful dark, malty, old ale flavor, a nice sweet finish with a bit of hoppiness to tone it down. It goes down wonderfully smooth for such a bold beer, just a hair more bourbon in the finish than the 16. Absolutely freaking fantastic.

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 kindacold
4.89/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Amazing beer. Had it at The Birch in Norfolk, VA.

Poured black...very little head, no light gets through.

Smelled of berries and fruit, with a bit of alcohol and some spicy notes.

Tasted like heaven in a glass. Berries and melon, with chocolate and coffee notes, a touch of alcohol, and a hint of hops. There was also some spiciness to the flavor that lingered briefly. Very lightly carbonated, with fine bubbles which served to enhance the spiciness. Quite a complex and delicate flavor.

Felt great in the mouth. Little carbonation, crisp aftertaste that goes away in about 10 seconds. Really amazing.

I loved this beer. I had two. I wanted to buy a growler of it, but it's pricey.

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 acevenom
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter glass. The beer pours jet black with no head. There's a thin light tan ring around the edge of the glass. There are a few tiny visible bubbles along the side of the glass that are rising to the top. The aroma is so awesome on this beer. I get chocolate, toffee, oak, nuts, and maybe just a touch of smokiness and vanilla. I get some of that malt as well, but it blends so well with the other aromas. The flavor is just as awesome as the aroma, though definitely more scotch heavy than the 16. The taste does follow the nose with those chocolate, toffee, vanilla, oak, nuts, and some smokiness. The smell keeps hitting the nose during each sip, which only helps make you want to drink this more. The body on this beer is surprisingly medium and very smooth. The drinkability is very high on this beer. It's a real treat. This is an excellent beer.

Photo of Dentist666
4.74/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

0,33l bottle. Bottle 08955 from 09/2012
Pours pitch black beer with smooth tan 2-finger head having good retention. Smell of coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, wood, slightly whisky.
Viscous, oily and warming beer. Taste of coffee. Complex aftertaste - tobacco, whisky, wet wood. Carbonation is low. Mind-blowing old ale.

Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.71/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Bottle numbered and dated with a signature of the head brewer and cask master. Comes with a tag that explains some of the beer. The beer it's self looks very nice when poured into a snifter. The very dark red brown really shows through.

S: Sweet oak roasty,. Sourness of the alcohol cuts through a little.

T: Sweet, oaky, roasty, as the smell. The alchohol comes through a little in the end but it blends with the other flavors making it a nice accent. One of the most controlled aged beers I've had in some time if ever.

M: Mouthfeel is very nice although I dare say a little light.

Overall just a wonderful beer. Much better than their reserve and adds something more to the non aged version. At $11 a bottle it's still worth checking out. A world class beer.

Goes great with steak! :)

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 manfromanotherplace
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Incredible how much these ola dubhs Differ.....12 was good,16 was very good,18 was excellent....each one more refined.cant wait for the 30.

Photo of drtth
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. Bottled in February of 2009.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a dark almost black color that does indeed look like old engine oil. The ½” light tan head recedes fairly soon to a small ring of foam around the glass with an irregular patch of foam spreading over about 1/3 of the surface like a peninsula of land jutting into the ocean. Sipping leaves a line of foam that quickly becomes scattered speckles of lacing, some of which slide back down to the liquid and some of which remain clinging to the side of the glass.

Smell: The aroma is detectable as soon as the bottle is opened and before the pour. As with the 12 and the 16 what shows first is the scotch. After the pour, however, the components of the beer mingle in and some chocolate, molasses and toffee become evident. The contribution from the whisky barrel consists of a hint of oak and some vanilla undertones that soften the chocolate.

Taste: As with the other versions of this beer the flavors are quite complex. The dark chocolate also seems to have some coffee notes to it along with some dark roasted malt character. There is neither heat nor burn from the alcohol and the integration of the contribution of the whisky barrel with the flavors of the beer is close to perfection. This is not a beer with whisky in it. They are one complex, balanced package.

Mouthfeel: As with other versions I’ve sampled (the 12 and 16) the mouth feel is smooth as silk, on the light side of medium bodied and has only light, hard to notice carbonation. The finish is long and starts in sweetness. It then tapers off into a nice earthy dryness.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: I’ve had no trouble sipping my way through this beer and I’ll be more than happy to have it, or any of its cousins, again. My overall impression is that this is a wonderfully well made beer and I greatly enjoyed it. My major regret is not being able to sample this series of beers side by side so as to be able to really have a shot at finding how the age of the whisky that was in the barrel affects the base beer. Certainly with this one the whisky notes are smoother and hard to separate out as a different component.

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.

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 Sigmund
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. Bottle No. 12610. ABV is 8.0%. Pitch black colour, big tan head. The aroma of the 18 is less distinct than the 12 and 16, notes of sweet malts, almonds, brown sugar and oak, with a moderate roastiness, notes of chocolate and mild coffee. The flavour is excellent, distinct notes of whisky oak cask, peaty smoke, hints of tar, also roasted notes of coffee, liquorice and dark bitter chocolate. Well rounded, with just the right sweetness and a pleasant bitterness in the finish. Yummy!

Photo of damndirtyape
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

11.2 oz bottle, bottled July 2011, botle # 15670. Served in a Gordon's Highland Scotch Ale thistle glass.

Appearance: Black - no light coming through - with a thin dark tan head. Some occasional persistent islands and strands of lacing.

Smell: Hint of toffee, fine scotch, with a mild peaty smokiness.

Taste: Rich toffee with bittersweet chocolate notes. A bit of scotch whiskey taste and bite, a mild bitter finish, and some lingering peat / smoke.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy with light carbonation. Outstanding.

Overall / Drinkability: What an amazing beer! Rich in flavor and aroma and this may be one of the best beers I've had in quite some time. Pricey, but worth the experience. Because the alcohol is well hidden this is a dangerously drinkable beer. A good slow sipping and savoring beer, but I really wish I had more. I will have to check out the rest of the line and see if I can save up for another bottle as a special occasion beer.

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 edodio
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this a week ago, so you have to excuse some of the lack of detail.

I enjoyed this as part of a flight of four of the Ola Dubh brews: 12, 18, 30 and 40. They were all enjoyable and unique beers, unlike any I had before. Being a scotch fan I found them all very interesting, but the 18 stood out as the most scotch-like, and the one I liked the most.

I haven't previously been a fan of UK beer, finding them too flat and smooth for my palate. However, the Ola Dubhs were so flavorful that I had to overlook their lack of real carbonation. My brother and I tried all four of these side-by-side, in cask-age order, starting with the youngest. The smokiness and woodiness imparted by the scotch barrels seemed to increase from the 12 to the 18, but diminish in the 30 and 40. The 18 stood out as the most interesting to me because it acquired the most of the scotch characteristics and had the most pronounced flavor.

Served at almost room temperature, it had a just a hint of the lactic smoothness of guinness and had no discernable head. The color was almost black; "black oil" is a good name for them. The nose was one almost of a scotch, fainter, but without any of the alcohol. The mouthfeel was smooth, with just a hint of carbonation. The taste was smoky, woody and salty, yet somehow refreshing. The flavor lingered in the mouth for a long time.

This was certainly a very interesting and enjoyable beer and I only hope that the bar that stocks it doesn't run out before I have a chance to come back for more.

Photo of LampertLand
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Ola Dubh's Special Reserve#18 @ 8.0% served cold from a 330 ml bottle
A-pours a dark brown almost black with a small fine tan head that dissapates leaving some spotty lacing along the pint glass
S-some smokyness more than SR#12 and SR#16 , sweet chocolate malts , roasted coffee , brown sugar , hint of cherries and a lot of whiskey from the barrel aging
T-some smokyness , booze is strong yet a creamy brown sugar/vanilla sweetness in the finish , a lot smoother than SR#12 and SR#16 , bit complex all the flavors going on here , wow
MF-low carbonation , thick and a bit syrupy , roasted bittersweet after taste
Ov-a sipping beer for sure , bit pricey , a yes for sure , if you can get the other Special Reserve give them a side by side taste test

Notes from tasting of SR#12 , SR#16 , SR#18 , & revisited since the .25 incriments

Brost LampertLand

Photo of biegaman
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I couldn't help myself - I didn't even bother looking at the beer I just went straight to smelling it. And I haven't been able to stop. It smells as though a meat smoker and an espresso machine, along with boxes of charred hazelnut and black licorice, were stuffed into a sauna near enough to Orkney Island to catch a stiff, briny sea breeze.

All that from just a few sniffs, and the beer has yet to be swirled and has hardly warmed much from the (excessively) cold temperature it was coming out of the fridge. Expectations have gotten only higher since opening the bottle! And that is also in good part to the impressively chic, steadily black colour, inky complexion and trim, rusty outline.

Smoky peat, waxy honey, charred almonds, cereal grain, bittersweet chocolate, black licorice, heather, jasmine tea, espresso, dark fruits - what's more to say? A flavour list like that says it all. It's nearly unprecedented. And with roasty malts, smoky peat, sea brine, splintery wood and earthy hops, rest assured it has as much texture as it does flavour. Just think: all that without the help of even a trace of alcohol. Wow.

The beer strikes me as being slightly thin, perhaps because the bottling date was some 15 months ago (implying it was brewed even before then). Still, I don't know what more I'd expect - the whiskey (and its potency too for that matter) is not so strong so as to override the roasty, bittersweet flavours of the malts nor the earthy bitterness of the hops. It is definitively smooth (despite being quite drying) and disappeared far too quickly.

You don't have to like whiskey to love this beer. In fact, if you're like me and appreciate the complexity and depth of a quality whiskey but don't necessarily have a palate (or stomach) to tolerate the excessive alcohol that comes with it, Ola Dubh 18 is perfect. Regardless of how your eyes feel about the price tag, I promise your nose and mouth will be grateful. Need more convincing? Go back and remind yourself of what I had to say about flavour.

Photo of BBP
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a thick black. Slightly less retention and lacing than the 12, yet still quite good.

S- Definite almond. More buttery. Moderate amounts of whiskey in the nose.

T- Hop bitterness, but more roasted malt to balance it. Definitely more whiskey flavor. A bit smoother flavor than the other Olas. Quite noticable almond as well. More sweet than the 12, and more whiskey flavor.

M- Considerably full. The definition of smooth. Starts to pick up more whiskey heat than the others in the series.

D- Very drinkable. Tons of flavor. The whiskey heat could slow you down just a smidge, but not that much. A good brew, but the higher in the series I go, the harder I find it is to defend the price.

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at kraftworks.

A- comes to me with a good finger of coffee and cream colored head that slowly settles to a small cap. Muddy super dark brown black colored brew.

S- dark roasted espresso and almost burnt malts. Char and smoke with that ever so bold whiskey.

T- opens up with dark malts, bakers chocolate, burnt coffee. Whiskey is less aggressive then other versions of the ola dubh line, but its there and nicely balanced with the brew it self. Some dark fruits and brown sugar. Wood ans smoke. Hints of dark bread and cherries. Long sweet, roasty, boozey finish. Fabulous!

M- a few steps above medium in body but not quite full bodied. lite but lively carb that works perfectly for this brew.

D- a work of art as I'm concerned. Perfect balance between barrel and brew. Some of these have missed the mark but this one split the arrow. Alls I can say is wow. That being said it is a beast even for 8 abv. The whiskey does let you know your in the big leagues and you won't forget it.

Photo of DersOne
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A-Dark black, thick, half finger of nice-looking caramel colored head, some lacing on the side of the glass.

S-Smoky whiskey, hints of chocolate and coffee aromas. Very pleasant.

T-Whiskey notes throughout, slightly boozy finish with a hint of peaty smoke. A fair bit of sugar at first, mild bitter coffee flavors in the middle, with a touch of vanilla. It's like drinking a mild glass of quality whiskey with a sidecar of stout, which is just wonderful in my book.

M-A bit light and smooth, some effervescence, slightly dry at the end.

O-Spectacular for whiskey fans, but easy enough to drink by someone who may not have a whiskey palette.

Photo of drpimento
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Whoa; another masterpiece in this line. Love it. Thick, sultry, and luscious. Love it. Thick, sultry, and luscious. Body is a touch on the soft side, but I can't help but think it fits perfectly here. The tinges of whisky and peat meld seamlessly with the palate and other dark flavors. In spite of its richness, could see having another. Finish is much easier and cleaner than I expected. Sumptuous beer.

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 uno99
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

January 2009 edition. Best before Jan 2012

Served at 58 Degrees into a Stella glass.

A: Very black like a stout. A little light seeps in around the edges but that is all. Leaves some nice caramel colored lacing with tight white bubbles that cling to the meniscus and glass.

S: Very pleasant nose. Lots of vanilla, oak, and yes Highland Park (for the record though I've never had Highland Park). Not the Roasted malt bomb that I was expecting, which is great, because I'm kind of sick of that at the moment.

T: The nose carries over to the taste of course. There is a slight vinous quality in the flavor though, and a dash of alcohol presence that is JUST RIGHT. Suggestions include almond, peach, cherry, raspberry, peat, smoke, leather... I could go on.

M: As the first sip draped my palate I remarked how thin this is. But it really is deceptively thick. I think the alcohol presence assists this magic trick. Carbonation is smooth and natural. fairly dry but only on the edges of the palate.

Overall: After a couple weeks of questioning my fondness of super dark and rich beers, this is a beacon of sanity for an abused palate.

Drinkability is high. Complex and satisfying, with a clever mouthfeel. Wish I bought more of these when they were available. Next year I'll stock up!

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
94 out of 100 based on 365 ratings.