Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18

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365 Ratings
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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 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 thierrynantes
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer bottle (33 cl.) purchased from Le comptoir Irlandais, and tasted in 2014.

Appearance : dark brown color with a tan foamed head.
Smell : roasted and chocolate malty aromas.
Taste & mouthfeel : sweet and roasted malt flavors with notes of whiskey, alcohol presence in finish.
Drinkability : a nice beer in the English style Old Ale.

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 beerdrifter
3.71/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up at a great little beer store in Arlon, Belgium, Miorge Mihoublon. An aggressive pour yields a deep dark brown, nearly black body with a quickly fading caramel-colored one finger head with decent lacing. The nose is very sweet and malt forward initially with hints of caramel, molasses, dark chocolate, and mocha. As it warms, subtle hints of smokey peat emerge. The taste is much more peaty right from the start. Also getting hints of espresso, mocha, caramel, dark fruit, cola, molasses, and prunes. The mouthfeel is slightly thin for the style with light carbonation and a syrupy sweet finish. Overall, this was kind of disappointing. It wasn't as flavorful as I had expected and the peat was too overpowering for my taste.

Photo of FLima
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep black color with a thick caramel head with medium retention but leaving a constant lace.
Aroma of coffee, whiskey, caramel and dark fruits.
Delicious flavor of vanilla coffee, whiskey, nuts, oak, peat and dark chocolate. Dry and bitter aftertaste with a residual taste of whiskeyd coffee.
Full body with low carbonation of tiny bubbles and a creamy sensation. Alcohol of 8% abv is well hidden.
Superior beer, tons of flavors for pure pleasure. A highly recommended classic.

Photo of ludachris
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ah, the first truly black body of beer which I haven't seen in awhile. One finger of creamy tan head gradually turns to a ring rimming the edges of the glace.

Ripe plums, toffee, and caramel come through in a big fashion. Gooey raisins make an almost equal statement. The smoke and the peat of the Scotch barrels are just as soft and silky as the vanilla that accompanies them. Despite all of these big flavours and aromatics going on, the nose remains distinctively rounded. A truly exceptional smelling beer.

The raisins and plums are almost as pronounced in the taste. A scoop of cocoa is coated on top of them. More roasty than smokey towards the back but both are soft and unobtrusive. Chocolate stays on top of the tongue with plum skins as the peaty element with a boozy stripe folds over top.

Medium bodied, slick and smooth with a rounding creaminess. The roasty quality helps to dry out the finish and the carbonation

Oh so rounded and oh so tasty. Another great example of how some beers can benefit so greatly from barrel aging. 30 is next!

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

Incredible complexity, masculinity and refinement oozes from the bottle of this regal elixir. Its backbone of Scottish Ale is expounded upon by 18-year scotch barrel aging and the quite calm of patient aging.

The dark ale pours dark tawny brown with mahogany low lights that provide a ribbon of dull light to pierce through its dark clarity. A creamy off-white shallow head slowly builds on top of the beer giving it a characteristically cask ale appearance. Light on retention, but the head regenerates after a gentle swirl of the snifter. Light on lace, sparse islands of foam cling to the sides but its pattern is quite random- preferring a more brandy-like type of legging.

Strong aromas start with black-strap molasses and layers of burnt toffee, caramel and malty sweetnesses. These weave into the alcohol notes to provide savory port, sherry, fresh-hung tobacco, vanilla, cured leather, chocolate and booze-soaked aged oak. Dark pitted fruits of plumb, dates, figs and raisin continue to build upon the unmistakable notes of peated earth and strong campfire.

Not as powerful as you'd think, its taste is rich with malty sweetness and barrel flavor but not as intimidating as these succulent aromas would suggest. As the molasses and other malt sweetness wraps around the tongue, the bulk of heavy sweetness seemingly floats effortlessly above the tongue, allowing the dark fruit and aged wine character to slip in between. Its finish of smoky chocolate, prune, and tobacco offers a type of complexity that port and sherry can only hope for.

Deliciously decadent, the ale surprisingly lifts from the palate shortly after the initial sip. Its wood aged powdery texture keeps the ale lightened somewhat and keeps its drinkability high. Wood spices offer a slight bite rather than relying on hop dryness for a semi-arid finish of scotch and umami.

The ale really hits home with the signature flavors that the Wee-ish of Heavies exude. Its a tremendous beer with impeccable balance and an arsenal of complexity that changes dramatically as the palate acclimates to its power and as the ale releases secret after secret as it warms.

Photo of Dope
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle 07117, Feb 2009

A: Really dark brown pour but not quite black. Good sized fluffy light brown head. Fades quickly but a really enduring minimal head sticks around. Decent fluffy swaths of lacing left behind.

S: Lots of umami and smoke in this one. A bit of peat too in fact. Seems to have a lot more barrel character than the 12 I had recently which was the same age.

T: Yes, definitely more barrel character than the 12. Notable peat and smoke up front. Decent chocolate, buried a bit under the scotch. Some caramel throughout and some vanilla in the finish, all to sweeten it up and balance out the peat and smoke.

M: Nice medium body. Very smooth and mellow.

O: Interesting. Lots of scotch in this one, really cranking it up compared to the 12 year version. The 12 was very mellow, this one is a lot more barrel-forward. Stronger flavors in this one as a result. Has the same smooth body that makes it surprisingly drinkable. Nice sweet chocolate, caramel and vanilla to balance it out too. I don't even like scotch and I enjoyed this.

Photo of Roman5150
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

bottle into tulip, bottled 2011

appearance: black with half finger slight off white head, not much lacing

smell: roasted malt, aged whiskey casks, oak, pepper, chocolate, espresso

taste: oak, burnt roasted malt, dark chocolate, a little more watery than expected, slight coffee taste

mouthfeel: medium carbonation, thick full bodied

overall: damn good, like an aged stout, alcohol is completely hidden and there are also some rauchbier qualities present. Very, very good beer for special occasions.

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 mick303
4.36/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vertical tasting of the range, from notes.
A - a dark black colour, thick, with great whispy lacing. 4.25
S - rich aged red fruit, super rich, and interesting complexities. 4.5
T - plum, raisin, shellfish, some acidic rosemary, aged vanilla taste, oak, coriander, lemon, creamy roast malt, dry smoked meat. 4.25
M - super smooth, rich caramel sweetness, very rich and tasty, dry tannic, woody finish, creamy with very full body, big and heavy. 4.25
O - smooth mineral taste, salt and green tea, salty caramel and some aged woody vanilla smoke. Very well put together, amazing beer all around, complex, dynamic and demands your attention. 4.5

Photo of bobhits
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Very clean and lacking strong aromas. Light oak and sugars vanilla and butter scotch elements. Very clean through the smell.

Carbonated but bubbles eventually are only around the brim of the glass and faded. Looks high abv though all bottles are 8%.

Very clean flavor much like the aroma and even look. This is much like you’d expect an 18 year scotch. Clean and smooth flavors, but unlike an 18 year old scotch this isn’t scotch. Beer looses flavor when it is simple and smooth. Ultimately this is lacking in character from the 12 year and greatly lacking in flavor.

The lack of carbonation here is really hurting this beer. It’s almost flat and it isn’t flavorful enough for this lack of carbonation.

A good beer but it needs more barrel or more sweetness. It lacks both.

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 StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at the bull and bush cherry creek. listed at 11% abv, not 8%, it pours flat black into a 10oz. chalice with several inches of chalky off white head. the nose is really interesting, deep dark chocolate notes, really scotchy from the barrel, whiskey heavy for sure, with charcoal and peat, as well as vanilla all bombarding the nose. alcohol is well hidden, I cant pick it up too much even when this gets warm. nice woody flavor complimented by dark roasted barley and char from the barrel. tastes more like a spirit than a beer, especially in the finish. very complex, almost no sweetness, very well done brew. the carbonation is slight but its ample, and the body is a full as they come. bitter finish is interesting here, sort of contradicts the whiskey flavors, but its something new. overall a real fancy beer that I was happy to pay 9 bucks for twice. a treat to get stuff like this on tap in the usa.

Photo of cvm4
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled Feb 2012, #5043.

A - To me, the 12/16/18 all seem to look alike once poured. Deep black, not overly thick k looking with a tan head & good lacing.

S - Peaty, smokey and roastiness with a slight sweetness.

T - The taste pretty much follows the nose. Love love love this scotch in my beer.

M - Full bodied, creamy & low carbonation.

O - IMO, the 12/16/18yo are all interchangeable. Just subtle differences the older you go.

Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Dark brown. Looks silky and juicy. Tiny rim of bubbles, similar to a quadruple.

S: Coffee.

T: Coffee. Butterscotch. Some caramel. Tiniest hint of whisky. An espresso like smokiness, like that ashtray flavour you get in coffee sometimes, which really works well here.

M: Amazingly smooth, velvety and juicy.

O: This is the Harviestoun house style on steroids.

Photo of Jimmys
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 fl. oz. bottle. bottle no. 10264. date Jan 2009.

A: a deep, dark brown. walnut wood finish. head is a brownish hue. retention is minimal and a bit disappointing. some sparse lacing.

S: nutty and fruity. prunes. a serious meaty-ness to this nose. woody, but definitely not as peated as I expected.

T: a really solid peated flavor. just enough to some, I could certainly use more though. some sweetness follows. a nutty sweetness. combined with the smoke, reminds me of a smoked chestnut or walnut. the finish definitely has a burnt caramel flavor and then turns to yet again more peat flavor. lingering, but not devastatingly so. there is actually more of a sweet, candied fruit in the finish after the peat is gone.

M: super mild carb. a tad over the silky point. full-bodied.

D: I had the option of buying either the 12 year, 16 year, or 18 year and selected this vintage mostly due to reviews on this site. after having this, I would love to do a side-by-side-by-side with all 3 to really pick them apart. one of the most complex English Old Ales ive ever had. I think the time definitely helped...

Photo of Converge
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml into a tulip. Bottled February 2012, Bottle No. 01861.

A - Pours like coffee, totally black in the glass, with a short lived head of tan foam. A thin skiff of head sticks around, leaving bits of lace clinging to the glass.

S - Lots of peat and smokey notes. Subtle roast, and a definite backbone of dark fruits; a little unexpected. It has a nice earthy roast to it that the Ola Dubh series always does, along with some woody notes and blackstrap molasses.

T - Follows suit with the nose closely. Pronounced roast throughout, with charred malt, and subtle hints of unsweetened chocolate and a mild coffee roast. The dark fruit from the nose is gone, and replaced by a more earthy, resinous character. Oak, peat and smoke all come together beautifully in the finish, giving way to a long lasting back palate of smoke. Another home run in the Ola Dubh series.

M - Thick and viscous, but the carbonation brings some life into the body. For my preference, the carbonation is a touch crisp, and I would prefer something a little more smooth.

D - I had thoroughly enjoyed all 3 other Ola Dubh offerings I had tried leading up to this, and this brew was no different. A delicious old ale, with a nice earthy profile that really appeals to me. Great beer!

Photo of Rickythejeweler
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Feb. 2012 Bottle No. 05967

A - Dark brown-black, half finger khaki head, light spotty lacing.

S - Milk chocolate, smoke, Scotch, oak, sweet caramel, roasted almond, vanilla.

T - Dark cocoa, oak, smoked malts, light char and sharpness bordering metallic on aftertaste.

M - Medium body, low carbonation.

O - Great beer, I love Scotch and beer, better than the 30 I had, probably because it is fresher.

Photo of mwilbur
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 330 mL bottle into snifter. Brewed Jan 2009. Bottle # 9938.
A: Pours a very dark brown with faint dark tan head that quickly recedes.
S: Dark dried fruit (e.g. raisin), whiskey, dark sweet caramel, and hint of alcohol.
T: Follows aroma fairly closely, but actually a tad weaker.
M: Medium body, but much lighter than you'd expect from the taste notes. Smooth and slightly oily feel. Not much alcohol burn (I'd expect more from 8%). Very flat with essentially no carbonation.
D: A decent drinking brew, but I'll be honest it was a bit of a disappointment. I was looking for something in the ballpark of Rye-on-Rye, but it ended up being its weakling little bro. Perhaps time has taken too much of a toll on this one.

Photo of jrenihan
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled February 2012, Bottle 10664.

Beer pour black, some slight brown hints. Some tan bubbles exist upon pouring but they start dissipating immediately.

Smell is nice. Peat, smoke, molasses, toffee, chocolate, oak. Very good.

Taste is good, but not as nice as the nose. Peat and smoke, toffee, chocolate, oak. Moderately bitter, with some grassy and earthy hops. Molasses.

Full bodied, moderate to low carbonation. Somewhat sticky.

Overall, very nice. The whisky is nicely integrated into the base beer.

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 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 flagmantho
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 330mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottled February 2012.

Appearance: completely black with just a little brown around the edges when held up to the light. Head poured a finger of creamy tan foam which subsided somewhat quickly. Quite good.

Smell: dank dark malt aroma with a smoky woodiness right up front but with some wonderful depth. Beautiful, intense, profound. Love it.

Taste: rich chocolatey flavor with a nice, slightly burnt, slightly bitter edge. Smooth and tasty.

Mouthfeel: two words: Sha. Zam. This is the creamiest, silkiest, smoothest beer it has ever been my pleasure to quaff. It is truly hard to imagine anything better than this.

Overall: just a wonderful beer. The flavor is good if, honestly, unremarkable, but the aroma and that *outstanding* mouthfeel mean I have to grade this one outstandingly high.

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

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