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
93
outstanding

130 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 130
Hads: 368
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 8.55%
Wants: 29
Gots: 98 | FT: 6
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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Reviews: 130 | Hads: 368
Photo of SportsandJorts
4.04/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a deep mahogany verging on black. a strong handed pour gives a 2 finger light tan head, that fades fairly quickly but leaves behind a small lacing. dark and opaque.

Smell: a mix of sweet toffee and earthy slightly smoky peat. scotch soaked dark fruits. strong wooden and earthy qualities.

Taste: opens with dark fruits. mostly figs and dried fruits. oak filters in with an amazingly smooth whisky taste. sweet toffee mixes with peat for a sweet and slightly smoky taste.

Mouthfeel: incredibly balanced and smooth. fairly light bodied but the depth of flavors and strength keep it from coming off as overly thin.

Overall: not a big barrel aged beers that are all the rage but if you can get passed that you are in for a great beer. incredibly smooth and balanced. lots of great character crammed into this beer. the alcohol will never come off as strong or astringent but it is enough to warm you slowly. (927 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Got this one in Bodegraven. Drank the 16, then the 18 and then the 21 yr. Some notes for comparison.

From a 33cl bottle into a snifter
#08241
March 2014

APPEARANCE: A clear dark brown pour yields a 1 finger, medium looking, creamy and bubbly light tan head with good retention. Head fades to a full swirly wisp. Bistre brown body with no carbonation evident. A swirly wisp remains until the end leaving touches of lacing down the glass. Same as the 16 yr.

SMELL: Some decent peated whisky, aromas of leather and some dark chocolate on the nose. Medium strength. Nice, but not overly impressive. Similary to the 16 with a touch more peat.

TASTE: More peated whisky, leather and smoky flavors up front. More earthy notes at the swallow with a medium strength but lingering finish of peat, earthy hops, leather, some dark chocolate, toffee and raisins. Flavorful with some well balanced peat and smoky notes. Just as the 16 but with more peat and smoky character.

PALATE: Thinner and foamier body with medium-high levels of carbonation. A bit lighter on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly drier.

OVERALL: Same as the 16 but just a touch more peat and smoke here. The body is a little foamier, which is unfortunate, but otherwise, it's a solid brew and worth checking out. Still doesn't hold a candle to that 2010 12 yr I had last year, but maybe nothing will... (1,383 characters)

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Incredible how much these ola dubhs Differ.....12 was good,16 was very good,18 was excellently but not quite as good as the 21....each one more refined.cant wait for the 30. (173 characters)

Photo of vinicole
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black and blacker.
Prunes and figs.
Hint of chocolate. Some oak with a touch of Scotch. Light peat. Subtle.
Mild and long. Sweet but not sticky.
Excellent. (155 characters)

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. (414 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. Thanks, Alan.

A: Tar black with a tan half finger head that lingered. Nice lacing.

S: Currants, port wine, dark fruit. Nutty

T: Ancient goodness. The port wine decadence shines in with peat, vanilla, bready malts, dark chocolate and perhaps a bit of Scotch. Sip slowly, my friends.

M: Thick and viscous. Chewy, robust, dry with medium carbonation.

O: I feel honored to get to try one of these beauties. A definite "share" beer. (475 characters)

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. (310 characters)

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. (1,051 characters)

Photo of dcmchew
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black, small tan head quick to a thin string.
Nice smokey peaty malts on the nose, roast and rich dark chocolate with a light Scotch dryness. Hints of vanilla, caramel, woody dark licorice and cinnamon, extra cocoa powder.
Scotch up front, kinda "zesty", not too strong, with light chocolate and burnt sugar trying to enhance it. Malts follow, just a bit toasted at first, developing into a nice roast, not too deep, but with a minimum of coffee powder notes showing up. Peat shows up, pretty subtle, with nice vanilla and a charred oak barrel note that's really rich, splashed just by a tiny bit of Scotch warmth.
Medium to light bodied, low carbonated, not entirely smooth, but kinda like slightly watered-down oil, so not too sticky either. Aftertaste has peated Scotch, rich oak barrel, bit of roast. No booze.
As is normal, i guess, somewhere between 16 and 30. Great Scotch barrel notes, as usual, nice rich dark ale underneath. These Ola Dubh's are well worth the expense. (985 characters)

Photo of Jack_Malts
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very good, big scotch notes on this one, making the finish sweet and smoky. Deep, dark brown body with a tiny tan head. Definitely a bit more of a stout than an old ale with big roasted notes, coffee and char and such, but I think this ultimately works better with the smoke from the scotch.

I wouldn't buy this again given the price, but it's more than worth it to give it a go once. (385 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 2/2012. Bottle No. 05567.

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy super dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, molasses, smoke, char, cocoa powder, whisky, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with char, cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate, earth, smoke, wood, and whisky flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roast bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that has more earth and smoke characteristics than the 12 year aged version that I recently had.

Serving type: bottle. (765 characters)

Photo of mbeerdino21
3.5/5  rDev -16.9%

Based on the reviews I was expecting a lot more from this one. Very underwhelming. Almost tastes flat with some Band-aid smokiness. At least you can pick up the barrel characteristic. Only thing this had going for it. (217 characters)

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. (975 characters)

Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%

Review taken from notes: November 2013. Bottle #04467

330ml brown bottle with brilliant black foil gracing the cap and neck. Color choice on the 18 is red on a black label with wood master and head brewer signatures. Harviestoun mouse logo is just awesome! Poured into a stemmed snifter.

A - deep black in color with dark brown edges with the darkest of ruby barely finding it's way through in the light. Darkish tan to light milk chocolate brown head pours small and settles to a ring of lace leaving a tiny touch of stick.

S - a whiff of dark fruit and chocolate. Mmm.. the smell of peat. It reminds me of getting a quick whiff of Highland Park's 18 year old. Sweet vanilla and molasses knock out the middle with smoke, oak and Peat in the back end.

T - wow.. this may be the best Ola Dubh I've had. Rich Scotch flavors dominating from the first sip. Sweet molasses and sweet malt. Milk chocolate character with a rush of light vanilla. Smoke and peat are outstanding bringing together a grand experience. Light spice much as you get with a good single malt scotch. S
There is even some of those dark fruit notes that are in the nose if you take your time searching for them.

M - fairly big medium body nearly identical to the 12 and 16. A perfect display of texture and the right amount of thickness makes this one hell of a smooth brew. Easy drinkable and Uber eenjoyable

O - these Ola Dubh are some of the best and right down tastiest beers I've come across. The Highland Park barrels and this beer recipe were almost meant for one another. Laying out a truly phenomenal experience in a bottle. Hats off to Harviestoun and even to Highland Park for such a treat with the 18 and all the other Ola Dubh bottlings (1,725 characters)

Photo of kkleu357
4.47/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Black thin body with a small fast dissipating head. Aroma is chocolate with a hint of scotch. More it sits, the more it smells like a glass of scotch. Light mouthfeel. Lots of flavor though. Lots of scotch whiskey comes through. Hints of chocolate. Excellent beer. (264 characters)

Photo of RocketRaccoon88
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Definitely a great beer! The look was just what I hoped for: dark and refined. It smelled almost like an actual cask! The first taste was phenomenal. Once I took that second taste and let my taste buds explore, boom.. Great to the last drop. Idk how much other people have paid but here in Hawaii it was $13.99. To me, totally worth it! (336 characters)

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.4/5  rDev -19.2%

$ 10.99/11.2 oz bottle at Vintage Estates, Boardman, OH
Bottle # 01811 Apr 2013 at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of generic whiskey
Head small (2 cm), light brown, frothy, slowly diminishing to 3 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing fair – some irregular branching with tiny bubbles
Body dark brown/black and opaque
Flavor of generic whiskey with coffee overtones; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 3, Aroma 3, Flavor 3.5, Palate 4, Overall 3.375. Final weighted score: 3.4.
OK, but not the quality expected from an ale this pampered. The general whiskey aroma and flavor were OK but since the aging takes place in Scotch whisky barrels I expected more of the scotch to come through. (747 characters)

Photo of Sludgeman
3.86/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle No. 01268, bottled on Feb 2012. Poured into a small stemmed tulip.

I love the look of the bottle. Reminiscent of a porter with some whiskey in the background but too thin to be a stout. A good old ale for those who also like barrel aged beers with a smokey and peaty finish. Let it warm up for the flavors to really come out. 3.75

A – Pours a “clear” reddish brown to black with no head. No extra viscosity apparent, which was unexpected. Some faint lace and alcohol legs coating the glass. 3.75

S – Vinous, maltiness, faint whiskey, tinch of sweetness. 4

T – Low bitterness, some dark fruit, smokey, woody, peaty, leaves alcohol on the palate. 4

MF – Medium-light body (-), medium dry, a bit of a bite on the palate, no head but carbonation creates that bite, smooth but thin with some warming qualities. 3.25 (834 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.96/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from West Lakeview Liquors. Bottle #9500, dated January 2009.

A - A hard pour yields a late-rising crust of dark tan foam and a lighter collar, with perhaps a few lingering wisps on top. Sludgy dark brown body.

S - Big dark fruit and molasses aroma, baker's chocolate, and a touch of vanilla, with light notes of peated whisky. Whatever oxidation has occurred is in line with the original flavor profile of the beer. Quite good.

T - Taste has significantly more char, oak, and peat. Chocolate takes on a darker tinge to it, and there's a malted milk ball and vanilla note in the finish. I wish the Scotch was dialed back about 10%, as the bitter char and peat distracts rather than invigorates. Sweetness comes out a bit as the beer warms up, to its benefit. Lingering notes of soy and whisky in the aftertaste.

M - Low carbonation; cask-like, medium-full body, with a bit of tannin to it. Lingering stickiness on the lips. No appreciable alcohol.

D - Enjoyable, but not terribly different than other beers from this series. I enjoyed the 33cl bottle, but probably wouldn't buy it again at this price point. Still, a good example of successfully integrating Scotch and beer. (1,186 characters)

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

(purchased at Binny's on Marcey - bottle 03994, date April 2013 - poured into a balloon)

A: finger-width of chocolate milk colored messy suds, drops and breaks apart within a couple minutes... the liquid is pretty damn black, brown edge... messy collar maintains throughout, tiny specks of lace

S: explosive smell!... dark chocolate milk, lightly caramelized wood... nary a hint of alcohol

T: whiskey cask notes jump out up front - a touch of peat smoke, bit of cereal grain, a flash of semi-spicy, dried grassy/floral-ity in the middle... finishes with a flare of whiskey flavor, mild wood tannins, and a micro flash of the alcohol... the core flavor is that of very dark, mildly-bitter chocolate with delicate espresso highlights... sort of black coffee with a sugar realm of moderate sweetness

M: as smooth and a slick as a beer can get for one that doesn't quite feel full-bodied... a flat (as opposed to round) viscosity... very low gas on the outer edges of the tongue... thin film of sugar residue... only a pilot light of afterglow... not quite as lip-smacky, rib-sticky as I hoped

O: I don't know... all of these Ola Dubh's are similar... in memory, this one has the most intense smell of the ones I've had - that translated to the first few sips being superb, but it didn't quite open up and develop like I'd hoped... still, a fantastic dark brew! (1,362 characters)

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. (1,976 characters)

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. (325 characters)

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing from notes after drinking on 4/11/14. Enjoyed out of a 330 mL bottle with a black foil sleeve around the neck and cap. The label reads that it was bottled in February of 201?--unfortunately, the final digit has been obfuscated by the label being slightly ripped. That said, based on where I bought this bottle, I'm going to take a wild guess that this is a 2013 bottle, rather than a 2014 bottling. But really, who knows? Poured into a large snifter style glass.

Appearance - Definitely imparts the appearance of the base beer's name--engine oil--but the kind that you remove from your engine, rather than put in. Dark brown that looks black in the glass. I only know it's brown based on the coffee coloring that I can see in the stream of liquid as I pour it into the glass. An aggressive pour yields just a bit of head--a half finger at best of mocha colored suds that dissipate to a ringlet around the edge of the glass and a swirly film across the top. Lacing is nonexistent.

Smell - Wonderful blend of aromas, with notes of dried dark fruits like dates and figs combining with sweeter elements of salted caramel and molasses. There is also a fair amount of subtle bitterness that takes the form of baker's chocolate and roasted malts. Behind the sweet and bitter components, there is a more peaty characteristic, with some leather and light smoke--but nothing even close to approaching what you'd expect from a smoked beer. Just some wisps of char and spice.

Taste - Continuing where the aroma left off, the taste brings in notes of dark caramel, bittersweet chocolate, more dark fruits, and smoke. The molasses and toffee are still there, and I'm a little surprised at just how sweet it is, though I suppose I shouldn't be, based on the aroma and flavor profiles that are working together here. Some strong impressions of port wine come through on the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full bodied, with low carbonation and a viscous feel on the tongue. Lingering sweetness is the predominant aftertaste.

Overall, just a fantastic beer, especially for those who like scotch and sweeter beer offerings that lean towards the port wine side of things. That said, it's classification as an Old Ale is curious to me, especially since the base beer is a porter. Perhaps it's simply one of those beers that truly defies classification. Either way, it's delicious. (2,373 characters)

Photo of heygeebee
3.89/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From Leura. BB Feb 2014.... Yep outta date.

A - pitch black, oily, head fades quick to leave a ring film and spotty lace. Not so good.

S - tons of vanilla, hint smoke, spirit.

T - all malts, roast, smooth, vanilla, choc notes. Somewhat dry in finish.

M - smooth, little alcohol,

O - Harviestoun doing what they do best, well made traditional BA dark ales. Would love to do a 12/16/18 comparison. I really do not know how tho stands up in that regard, tho certainly not way above. (485 characters)

Photo of khmel
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: A black, opaque pour with a bit of translucence around the edges. Pours a dense, tan head that dissipates fairly quickly to a ring. Doesn't have the "thick" look.

S: Smokey malt, hints of whiskey.

T: Smokey malt, leather, definite whiskey flavor in the finish. Really nice. 4

M: Incredibly smooth and creamy. A whiskey slippery almost. Medium to light body but glides down. A little alcohol warmth in the finish, but not dry. The mouthfeel is the highlight of this beer. You don't even want to swallow it it's so nice.

O: Really great! This beer is solidly outstanding and will be greatly appreciated by whiskey lovers. (627 characters)

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
93 out of 100 based on 130 ratings.