Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
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Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom
English Stout
Ranked #8
Ranked #5,084
4.13 | pDev: 9.93%
Jan 22, 2024
Feb 15, 2008
This beer is 8% ABV in bottle, 10.5% in cask and keg.

Ola Dubh (pronounced ‘ola-doo’ and Gaelic for ‘black oil’) was conceived in 2007. It was the first ale to be matured in whisky barrels from a named distillery and, with traceable casks and numbered bottles, it is a beer with real provenance. To make Ola Dubh 16, we take our Old Engine Oil (amped up to 10.5%) and age it for up to 6 months in casks that previously held Highland Park 16 Year Old single malt. And it is ready only when our head brewer, Stuart, deems it ready!

Aged in oak casks formerly used to mature Highland Park 16 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, our thick, gloopy base beer takes on distinct whisky notes, perfectly complementing its roasty, toasty bitterness.

Like the others, Ola Dubh 16 pours out jet black, with a small mocha-coloured head. There’s plenty to enjoy on the nose which is a classy blend of whisky, sweet roasted malts, earthy woodland and vanilla. The flavour is rich; loaded with sweet-roasted dark malts and coffee. And just at the finish there’s nice, smoky peat hints with just a touch more bourbon than the 12.

HOPS: Galena, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles
MALTS: Roast barley, oats
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Photo of kitch
Reviewed by kitch from Hong Kong

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
A 330ml black foiled and capped bottle, bottle no. 15872, bottled in March 2022, and a best before end date of March 2025. Poured into a snifter glass.

Appearance: Dark brown in colour with a half finger beige head that dissipated fairly quickly to a ring around the glass, while leaving some nice lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malts, chocolate, sweet dark fruit, whisky, caramel, and maybe a touch of smoke.

Taste: Dark fruit sweetness, light roast, chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, whisky, toasted wood, with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with soft carbonation.

Overall: Clean, balanced, aroma and flavours.
Jan 22, 2024
Photo of AzfromOz
Reviewed by AzfromOz from Australia

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Purchased from Plonk in Fyshwisk, Canberra, in August 2023 and drunk in December that year.

The bottle, immaculately presented like all Ola Dubh variants, indicates this is the 2021 version of this beer.

L: In the glass, it shows a solid hunk of impenetrable black beneath a thin, coffee-coloured head. Densely packed streams of tiny bubbles can be seen near the edge of the glass.

S: Bitter, dark chocolate with molasses, blueberry and umami savouriness, and wood and creamy whisky notes.

T: Absolutely delightful. While the beer is still relatively cold, the scotch whisky cask is dominant, with a creamy vanilla and wood and a slightly peaty whisky note. As it warms, the barrel backs off, and a roasty, bitter, chocolaty note takes over, with subtle hints of orchard fruits and berries, particularly late in the swallow. Mouth, tongue and throat are warmed from the alcohol, which is nonetheless expertly hidden.

M: A beer that's made for slow sipping demands a thick, full mouthfeel, and this beer delivers. Carbonation is low, but there's a definite prickle as it gowns down.

O: Overall, this beer is good when it's cold and even better as it warms. The changing nature of the taste profile kept my interest in the beer from the first sip to the last, and as that last drop was drained from the glass, my immediate thoughts were to the next chance I had to sample this excellent beer.

Dec 03, 2023
Photo of GreesyFizeek
Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
This one pours a very dark black color, with a small head, and a light fluffy head.

This smells pretty roasty, with some vanilla, oak spice, bitter wood, dark chocolate, and lightly peaty smoke.

In lesser hands, these beers could be smoky and peaty monstrosities, but they always manage to be well balanced and super drinkable. Scotch barrel aged beers are such a dicey proposition, but the dice landed favorably here. There’s a lot of barrel – oak, vanilla, cedar, spicy whiskey, and a touch of smoke. There’s lots of chocolate and a hearty roasty backbone.

This is medium bodied, slightly creamy, and not really all that boozy.

These are some of my favorite beers from the UK, and some of my favorite scotch barrel aged beers taboot.
Nov 13, 2023
Rated: 4 by Shenk87 from Pennsylvania

Sep 15, 2023
Rated: 4.25 by shigg85 from Japan

Aug 13, 2023
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Reviewed by drmeto from Germany

4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
-pours the darkest of brown with ebony tinges and a quickly dissipating,small,foamy,beige head
-malty,coffee,caramel,vanilla,coconut,spicy,light peat smoke
-Follows the nose + rye bread and a toasted finish
-low-to-medium carbonation
-light-to-medium body
-alcohol lightly noticeable
Another great BA stout from Harviestoun.Deep with flavors and light enough to be drunk in warmer weather, unlike many other BA Beers.
Can't reach the Ola Dubh 12 though.
May 20, 2023
Photo of Rug
Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Bottle 01001, February ’21

Coming off of the 14 from the other day (my least favorite to date) we’re moving on up to Ola Dubh 16. Hopefully this one fares better, but any Ola Dubh is good as it is. Let’s crack it open and see what it’s all about

Pours completely pitch black with a finger of light tan head that fades to a ring and leaves minimal lacing

The aroma isn’t heavy per se, but there’s a nice depth to it. I’m picking up on aromas of peat smoke, raisin, milk chocolate, brown sugar, dark bread, caramel, light baked apple, and vanilla

The cliché scotch-dervied bandage flavor I experienced in the 14 is present here too, but ever so slightly, it really blends in with everything else in the swallow and works out into something nice. On the front end of the sip I’m tasting fig, milk chocolate, toffee, peat smoke, toasted oak, nutty malt, and light black cherry. The swallow brings notes of peat smoke, cocoa powder, black cherry, dark toast, caramel, brown sugar, dates, toasted oak, and the slightest note of bandage

A medium body pairs with gentle tingling carbonation, resulting in a smooth beer. Finishes a bit sticky but dries over time

I dig this one too. I think I’m learning that these are consistently nothing amazing, yet always interesting and pretty good. Onto the 30 next
Oct 16, 2022
Rated: 4.25 by TylerJ from Iowa

Mar 14, 2021
Photo of laketang
Reviewed by laketang from Arizona

4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
deep brown or even black with a bubble ring.
Has nice barrel notes as expected, a li so char notes.
I get chocolate and roast, the whiskey gives a smooth edge.
Thin mouthfeel, a really enjoyable sipper.
Dec 19, 2020
Rated: 4.04 by EMH73 from New York

Mar 24, 2020
Photo of mothmanscott
Reviewed by mothmanscott from Georgia

4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
From notes 1/6/13: Pours ebony producing less than half a finger of short-lived, coarse, mocha head which leaves behind only a few small motes of lace as it recedes. Aroma is dark roast, caramel and chocolate malts, burnt pumpernickel, booze, smoky peat, oak/vanilla, candied nuts, a hint of orange peel and faint hops. Taste is chocolate and whisky forward (but less than expected), burnt dark bread, biscuity malt, caramel, molasses, candied walnuts, oak, some dark fruits. As with Ola Dubh 12 there is more burnt flavor and hop character from mid-sip through finish and into the aftertaste than in the nose. Finish and aftertaste are nicely smokey but is short-lived. The 8% ABV is well hidden. Mouthfeel is full throttle FULL bodied with medium-low carbonation, smooth and creamy but leaves behind a slickness on the tongue.
Nov 10, 2019
Rated: 4.19 by harsley from Massachusetts

Feb 11, 2019
Photo of AdmiralOzone
Reviewed by AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
Pours as black as night with a thin tan head that falls away rapidly with minimal lacing. Aroma is dark roasted malt, smoke, peat. Flavor follows the nose with little barrel character (bottle date May 2014 is almost five years ago), but it's there. Feel is thinner than I thought it would be. Medium bodied, low carbonation. Overall a nice enough beer but not one I'd seek out.
Jan 10, 2019
Photo of HardTarget
Reviewed by HardTarget from Texas

4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Bottle hand labelled showing bottled on date of 2014 sometime, it soaked off in the cooler.

Appearance: Black glass, opaque save for a thin brown ring along the top. A thin halo of tan tiny bubbles form what little lace it can show.

Aroma: Smoke, peat, earth, wood, whiskey. You have my attention.

Taste: All the above with a sweet toasted bread base that makes all the fireworks of peaty smoke and whiskey enjoyable instead of harsh. There is a slight burnt rubber, and a hint of brown paper bag, but it all is in the mix of the big flavors going on and just work.

Mouthfeel: Medium heavy, not crazy chewy but hard to call it light. It finishes very clean making it seem lighter than the obvious weight it throws around.

Overall: Special beer. I don't think I'd enjoy this on a daily basis, but for a New Year's Day it's a proper pint. Big hairy flavors but a soft heart. Worth the money.
Jan 01, 2019
Photo of woodychandler
Reviewed by woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
This one hearkens back to March 2017 & one of the worst f**k-ups of mine in recent history. I had placed a bottle each of 16 & 18 in my reefer to chill, but when I opened the door, I heard a rattling, followed by an unsettling CRASH! 8=( I may have overfilled my reefer, but I prefer to think that it became despondent & committed suicide. 8=( Imagine my elation when I was able to procure a replacement bottle! Yay! 8=) Welcome to the closing ceremonies of Late Night New Beer Sunday (LNNBS) (Week 711)!

From the bottle: "Ale matured in Whisky Casks"; "Aged in selected oak casks, formerly used to mature Highland Park's gloriously rich and smoky 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky"; "[Undersigned:] Head Brewer: (JS Cail) Master of Wood: (George Ervine) Bottle No. & Date: 03981 June 2014".

I am SO stoked to drink this one! When the first one shattered, I became despondent of finding a replacement, but I was successful, albeit spendy. It came with a black foil wrapper over its cap & down its neck, which I carefully removed FFT Kris Witman for her art. There was also a small card on a string that gave the series' deets & I likewise removed that & set it aside. Now, it was time for a Pop! of the cap. I prised it open slowly & gently to preserve it for Ms. Witman. Success! Next, a slow, gentle pour that was so slow that a sloth waved to me as he raced past. 8=O Time for some "Black Oil"! My pour had not allowed for the creation of any head, so I employed the Bartender's/Server's Trick & gave it a vigorous in-glass swirl. This raised ~ two fingers of dense, foamy, deep-brown head with great retention, leaving loads of lacing in its wake. Color was like spent motor oil - Back & Opaque (SRM = 44). Clarity? Good luck, pal! Lemme get the duty mechanic to help you with that. Nose instantly reminded me of why I like Rye over Scotch & Bourbon. Bourbon smells like corn silage & Scotch can be so peaty as to be overwhelming. This smelled like we were standing in the middle of a peat bog, harvesting peat squares to be dried as a peat bonfire burned upwind of us. 8=O Smoky, boozy, big, viscous … I feel like I should be sporting a kilt with my tackle hanging loose in the breeze as bagpipes play.

Digressions Alert!: I was a plankowner on the U.S.S. Normandy (CG-60) & during one of our frequent visits to France, we heard of the Scottish bagpipers coming ashore at Gold Beach. Apparently, the sound scared the shite outta the Nazis & they retreated southward to Omaha Beach! My headmaster at the private school which I attended for eleven (11) years was a Scotsman & I hear his burr now: "Right, laddie, now what's yer disconnect with Math? We'll get this sorted out right quick!" 8=O I am currently reading the third of Malcolm MacKay's "Glasgow Crime Trilogy" - "The Sudden Arrival of Violence", preceded by "The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter" & "How a Gunman Says Goodbye". I have read much of the Akashic Noir series, including those set in Scotland & I am a huge admirer of Irvine Welsh so it is all fitting.

Mouthfeel was indeed viscous. 8=O Oil pumping into my gawping yap! The taste was more smoky and peaty than outright whisky. Thank f**k! That previous one was a baseball bat to the rear of my cranium as it were. This was a more mellow booziness, more subtle, like a cudgel swathed in velvet. Yeah, it still came with a cudgel-like ferocity.

More digressions: I was awaiting the Staten Island Ferry one night, half-asleep on a bench inside the ferry building when I caught the most painful feeling across the soles of my feet. I darted up, only to be confronted by one of Manhattan's Finest, a copper of Scottish descent wielding a cudgel! "Oy, hurts, doesn't it, lad? On yer feet! Let's see some I.D.!" F**ksake, it hurt to stand! I showed him my active duty card & he explained that laying down is prohibited due to the homeless. 8=( We exchanged war stories since I had a year + as a cop & he told me that the best way to roust a sleeping drink is to whack them across the soles of their feet. 8=O He went on to impart that he disliked unleashing the then new PR-24 since it required an incident report and billy clubs & truncheons were a thing of his father's & grandfather's past. His cudgel was of his own fashioning & it was highly polished & whittled to fit his hand. Lesson learned. I made my own after that & routinely used it on Shore Patrol.

Phew! Wotta beer! This oughtta come with a warning label. Finish was dry, bitter, smoky & definitely of Scotch Whisky. Phew!
Oct 08, 2018
Photo of josanguapo
Reviewed by josanguapo from Spain

3.06/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
From Saveur Biere. In Teku glass. Playing Avernum 4. More or less the same as the 12 years version. This wood excess saturates me a bit but isnt unpleasant
Aug 15, 2018
Photo of Holderness
Reviewed by Holderness from Massachusetts

3.4/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25
Very deep amber body with some retention and minimal lacing. Much smokier and peatier than the Ola Dubh 12, which adds a bit more heft to the flavors and makes the mouthfeel a little less limp and watery. Still not getting that whole "gloopy and viscous" marketing tag.

Jun 01, 2018
Rated: 3.97 by DodgerLove from California

May 27, 2018
Rated: 4.38 by MO1978 from North Carolina

May 07, 2018
Rated: 4.1 by steverx8 from England

Apr 07, 2018
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 668 ratings