Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
657 Ratings
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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Ratings: 657 |  Reviews: 316
Reviews by harsley:
Photo of harsley
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

More User Reviews:
Photo of woodychandler
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!

 4,520 characters

Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This is almost as dark as their Engine Oil with a tan but slightly less lively head.

Smell – There’s some dark roasted malts to this nose and little sugar even after an hour opened up. The aroma though is exceptional and now I’m also getting a hint of espresso.

Taste – The espresso comes out a little more at the taste and the sugars, closer to raw then anything else, are much stronger on the tongue. The roastiness is passionate but quiet.

Mouthfeel – This Old Ale is close to full-bodied and incredibly smooth in the mouth, probably one of the smoothest OAs that I’ve ever had.

Drinkability – It’s efforts like this that make me fall in love all over again with this uncommon style here in the US. I would love to throw 10 of these in a cellar and open one a year for the next ten years.

 826 characters

Photo of MadScientist
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle No. 69110
& date: July 2011

A: The beer is inky black, not letting any light. The head is a persistent thin cap of medium tan creamy bubbles.

S: The aroma is dominated by a moderately-strong aroma of scotch whiskey and moderate oak that is somewhat cinnamon and vanilla. The scotch bring peat and some alcohol characters. There is light aroma of the complex malt you find in an old ale but it's in the background to the scotch and oak.

T: A medium sweetness with a great scotch whiskey flavor. There is a good complexity to the malt with moderately-light chocolate and and dry roast aftertaste. The hops bitterness is moderately-light with no hops flavor. The balance is somewhat sweet which helps to balance out the whisky. The finish is towards the sweet and the aftertaste is of scotch peatiness and a roasted grain dryness.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Moderate creamy and a light alcohol warmth.

O: The beer serves as a nice palate to carry the scotch flavors. The underling beer is a bit had to see under that but with the chocolate and the roast I'm apt to call it a stout and not an old ale. An enjoyable sipping beer.

 1,152 characters

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the proper use of scoth in beer. This interpretation is neither like sucking on a tree nor sipping a glass of single malt. The scoth wonderfully compliments the dark ale. The pour is a nice deep black with moderate single fingered white head. The body is smooth and in fine balance with a wonderful nose and lack of pungent aftertaste so typical of scotch barrel aged brews i have had in the past. Koudos to Harviestoun for doing this right, I only wish that I cold afford to drink more of these.

 505 characters

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into my glass a deep black with dark brown accents and a small dark tan head that quickly fades. Not as viscous as I was expecting. Aromas start out with dark roasted malt mixing with some licorice, bitter chocolate and coffee. Dark fruits move in and meet up with a smokey peat aroma. Hints of wood, tobacco and molasses on the back end. Maybe even leather? Quite deep and complex overall.

First sip brings roasted malt quickly moving into chocolate and dark fruit flavors. Licorice, raisin and molasses roll across. The peaty scotch smokiness comes through rather strong with a slightly salty accent. It flows down with notes of wood and tobacco. Not as smoky as the 12 was, quite complex and a good sipper overall.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly more viscous than the pour lead onto. Still, this is not overly heavy and about on par for the viscosity of your standard stout. Well placed, fine carbonation, this one goes down rather easily. Makes a good after dinner treat. Overall, I've enjoyed this one and I'm glad I made the purchase.

 1,058 characters

Photo of merlin48
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle, #04722, bottled Sept 2007. Pours into a snifter deep dark brown and viscous. Small khaki head leaves some nice sheets of lace.

Complex aroma has charred oak wood, vanilla, dark chocolate, some almond nuttiness, and prominent notes of Scotch whisky. Nice!

Mouthfeel is thick and full bodied. Some whisky essence with the low carbonation.

Taste opens with dark roasty chocolate maltiness, quickly joined by the nuttiness from the aroma. Vanilla, charcoal, and oak tones add depth. The Scotch whisky character is prominent.

Really well done. A wonderful sipper. I'm going to get a few of these to put away for some aging.

 639 characters

Photo of jondeelee
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ola Dubh 16 lets the imbiber know from the first whiff that something extraordinary is about to happen. There are, of course, several beers that boast having been aged in used whiskey/wine/scotch/rum/etc. casks, but few of those beers smell so intensely of the cask's former contents. Old Dubh's nose is a mixture of near-black ale, with dark caramel sugars, chocolate malt, peat, coffee, and tobacco aromas, mixed with the scent of aged whiskey and charcoal.

On the tongue, the ale is so immediately dark and foreboding that it's hard to imagine this was made out of grains, and not crafted directly from ash. Huge tobacco and coffee flavors dominate the taste, as well as peat and black malt, and a continuation of the whiskey charcoal from the nose. A good sampling of heavy sugars, port wine, and dark fruit esters (banana, fig, raisin) complement the bitter malts, barely balancing the brew. The aftertaste is a joy of tobacco and coffee, and lingers much like good whiskey. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is light.

Overall, while I can't say this beer is going to appeal to everyone--in fact, I doubt few will be able to enjoy its extraordinarily intense flavors--it is an amazing accomplishment. I doubt it's possible to cram more flavor into a bottle.

 1,285 characters

Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank this as a nightcap last night and I really enjoyed it.Poured into a nonic a deep nearly opaque black with tight craterous mocha colored head,a little ruby showed thru when held up to the light.Deep complex aromas, some vanilla from the barrel aging really showed thru as well as some dark fruit and caramel and a touch of smoked peat wich was more pronounced in the flavors.I couldnt find a single flaw flavor wise just awesome and complex to the hilt,starting out sweetish with caramel and vanilla tones melding into a woody-smokey finish that lingered nicely.The only flaw and its not major is the body was not as full as I would have liked but it was by no means thin.A great after dinner brew,one to savor for sure.

 725 characters

Photo of beerhunter13
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of DanGeo
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of Tiernan
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of dolivaw
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of tbryan5
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of ajkiser12
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of -DF-
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of FadetoBock
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #38219
Bottled July 2009
In a pint glass the beer was a viscous black with a tiny tan head.
It had a raisin bread aroma, as well as some whiskey.
Tasted like raisin bread soaked in whiskey. A little peaty.
I thought the alcohol was a little on the intrusive side, but still enjoyed this.

 294 characters

Photo of R_Kole
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of SmellsofMahagony
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%

Photo of aquazr1
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of Mugenlude
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of goatxpower
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pitch black with thin beige head.

S- scotch, with some vineous overtones.

t- Big malt, peat, honey, chocolate, roasted coffee. Nice smokeyness but not too blatant. Slightly fruity.

M- thick and sticky. Lasting peat smoke.

D- I liked it a lot, but don't see myself buying it again anytime soom.

 300 characters

Photo of magictrokini
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shockingly, under the "is some is good, more is better" theory, not as good as its younger cousin, the 12 year old version. Same black pour with a ring of tan bubbles. Harsher aroma with more peat and alcohol. Taste was similar, with a good blend of malt, chocolate, and oak. There was more whiskey taste which gave it a salty bite. I enjoyed the scotch flavors with this beer, but liked it more in the subtle 12 year old version. An excellent beer, nontheless

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 657 ratings