Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bitterbill on 02-15-2008

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Reviews: 295 | Ratings: 622
Photo of JamesS
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
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 that the 12. Absolutely freaking fantastic.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.92/5  rDev +19.4%
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.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a clear dark brown color from an 11.2 oz bottle (Aug 2010, bottle # 9989). Once in the glass it was absolutely pitch black with no light penetrating whatsoever. Lives up to the name 'ola dubh'.
One finger mocha colored head that dissipated very slowly.
Aroma is just fantastic. There is so much going on in the nose, upfront you get the scotch notes. Lots of peat, smoke, char with vanilla (and some wood phenolic components) and hints of alcohol sweetness, caramel malt notes intertwined with dark fruit, some chocolate and licorice notes. The aroma is strong, complex and at the same time it isn't overwhelming.
Taste compliments the aroma almost to a tee. The peat and smoky character is evident up front. Wowzers !!!
Coats the palate completely; rich and silky mouthfeel. This is just fantastic on the palate. The balance is almost close to perfection. The Old Engine Oil by itself is a fantastic beer, aging it in barrels used to age Highland Park scotch for 16 years just elevates it to a completely different level.
There was almost no alcohol burn considering there were hints of it in the nose; the alcohol is very well masked.
I don't think there are enough words to describe how good this beer is, suffice to say that I will not be forgetting this beer for a long, long time. Definitely worth a try, and is highly recommended. Slightly expensive, but it is worth every penny.
It's a complete package; attractive packaging that holds a stellar product.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle # 04466- Bottled in September 2007.

Damn, this pours out like an Imperial Stout! This is jet black with no head at all... Its just thick and black...

Lots of different aromas present in this brew... Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, vanilla, sweet roasted malts... Its all there...man, I'm excited about this...

This is just f*#king ridiculous... Chocolatey and rich, loaded with sweet roasted dark malts and coffee, and just at the end the scotch peeks out beautifully... I'm in awe..

Seriously, this is one of the most delicious brews I've ever had. Its perfect in almost every way.. Easily the best Old Ale I've ever had... Easily...

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Photo of yelterdow
4.84/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle #07670 from 2007, I'll be serving this beer at cellar temperature in a Chimay chalice with crackers and havarti cheese. Much like a fine piece of heirloom furniture, the bottle is signed off on by the head brewer and master of wood. Impressive start.

Appearance- Much darker than I expected, this chocolately brown ale glugs out of the bottle and supports a brown, creamy finger-thick head that reduces slowly to a thin coating. Dots of lacing sporadically adorn the inside of the glass.

Smell- Almost a blend between a rich, decadent Imperial stout and a superbly aged whiskey... the nose is of chocolate, peat, dark fruit, and malt. Just sitting here with my nose immersed in this beer is a joy.

Taste- Immensely huge and complex, the barrel aging infuses a glorious Highland Park whiskey middle and finish that complements all of the flavors here... initially bitter chocolate, and then a more complex fruitiness. I am loving the peaty wood character that envelops the overall delivery... and the fabulous hop bitterness just seals it. What a great beer.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- A prickly beginning quickly eases and becomes more frothy. It never inhibits or overshadows the masterful array of flavors, rather it fades into the shadows. This is so rich, so deep with complexity that I would love to have more of these on hand for a random nightcap. The havarti cheese pairing proved to be absolutely perfect... one of the best beers in recent memory.

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
4.82/5  rDev +17%
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.

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Photo of sfoley333
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 330 ml bottle. Poured a jet black color with tan head with great lacing. Smell is incredible mixture of peat, chocolate, dark fruit, and oak. Taste is incredible also with more chocolate, coffee, tobacco, vanilla oak, and just an amazing scotch like iodine aftertaste. Mouthfeel is full body with a creamy carbonation level, my only criticism is that I would liked a thicker stickey mouthfeel. The drinkability is a perfect sipper with the alcohol well refined. If you love single malts scotch and beer than this beer is for you with a great influence of imperial porter mixed with the smokey peaty single malt overtones departed by the time in the scotch barrels.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Saint Somewhere wine style glass. Label says bottle date July 2011.

A- Pours a deep opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains slightly before fading to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Crisply textured lacing that slides slowly down the glass.

S- Roasty nose with heavy dark chocolate and a hint of oak. Slight whiff of alcohol and a tad sweet.

T- Flavor starts out roasty but makes an abrupt turn to a bold but smooth oak taste and finishes smokey. The old lady refers to it as a burnt flavor, but it's so much more complex than that. Notes of chocolate, peat, and faint whiskey. Alcohol? Barely noticeable. Not as sweet as in the aroma. Lingering smoke in the aftertaste.

M- Creamy and lush with an amount of prickliness from the smoked malt. Medium carbonation and a full body.

O- So complex and enjoyable. Easy to drink with a delightful melding of dark beer and scotch flavors. Even better than the 12 year which was considerably less smokey. I don't enjoy overly smokey beers but this one has a striking balance. Damn near perfect.

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Photo of Lupe
4.79/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle No. 05732 - Sept 2007

Color is almost completely black, with just a bit of brown at the top when held to the light. No head or lacing at all.

Dark malt aroma with a healthy dose of Scotch and wood. Hints of dark chocolate truffles and smokey peat. Rich, full, and inviting.

Flavor is similar to the aroma, but with less of the Scotch coming through. Dark roast malt with chocolate and coffee. Hints of smooth Scotch, smoke, and dark fruit. Has a nice balancing hop flavor and bitterness that doesn't get in the way, but keeps things in check. Finishes with toffee, cocoa powder, and a touch of char. Incredibly balanced and a amazing melding of the flavors.

Medium bodied, smooth and rich with very little carbonation. Alcohol is barely noticeable which is surprising for a barrel aged beer. Impossibly smooth tasting - this is one easy drinking beer that is a struggle to sip and savor.

I love the Scotch character. Not overwhelming like some barrel-aged beers can be. More memorable for me than the 12-Year, and now I can't wait to pop open the 30-yr. Excellent.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.79/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: snifter. pours a dark rich brown, practically black. a light tan head on top and a low retention rate. light lacing.

S: coconut, cherries, vanilla and roasted malts, chocolate and caramel. light coffee hints. huge peaty whiskey aromas.

T: tastes like heaven. outstanding old ale, best yet IMO. coconut, vanilla, cherries, bourbon/scotch flavors. some light chocolate and toffee. hints of coffee.

M: medium body, low carbonation. huge roasted and barrel aged palate. so intense.

D: i could literally drink maybe 3 of these, but a dozen is my goal....absolutely delicious. worth getting...you better believe it!

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Photo of Dentist666
4.77/5  rDev +15.8%

Poured into english pint
Opaque jet black beer. Only a ring of tan froth dissipating to some bubbles on a surface. Smell of whiskey, tobacco, chocolate, wood. Taste is smooth, solid, chocolate, liquorice, tobacco, bnice whiskey finish. Outstanding brew.

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Photo of milkbaby9
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle (#39710 bottled July 2009, drank 9-2-2010) into Duvel tulip. 1 finger tan brown head reduces to a thin layer of bubbles. Looks opaque brown black in the wide balloon tulip, on the pour it looked like soy sauce.

Aroma was initially a hit of soy sauce which disappears after it warmed up a little whereupon raisin takes over, then roasty malt, then alcoholic scotch whisky and a creamy smell, probably vanilla. Taste begins with a sweetly malty entry, then dark chocolate, vanilla and scotch, sweet dark raisin and dates, and finishing with a gentle bitter roastiness. Sooo smooth!

Very low carbonation, medium bodied mouthfeel, maybe a tad lighter than I expected. The long finish was a nice mix of tangy espresso roastiness, light vanilla, scotch whisky, and sweet malt and crusty biscuit.

Though Ola Dubh is based on Old Engine Oil, I much preferred Ola Dubh, maybe because I was somewhat surprised how smooth it compared to what I feel is a certain sharpness or harshness in Old Engine Oil. Not sure I would drink two or more bottles of this at a time, but it's relatively expensive and really, it's probably not meant to be a drink-mass-quantities kinda beer. Complex but everything comes together well and results in a supremely smooth drink. Awesome!

Note: I had the Special Reserve 12 later and enjoyed this 16 more. However, the 12 was bottled 7 months earlier than the 16 and maybe that was part of the difference...

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Photo of Spadoof
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Name: Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
Brewery: Harviestoun
Bottled on: July, 2009
Purchasing Date: July 2011
Purchased From: Williams IGA (Vienna, Ohio) [$8.49 per bottle]

Origin: 12 oz bottle
Serving Glass: 22oz sniffter
Serving Temp: 60F

*Tasted before the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40.

Appearance: Pours a viscous, jet-black body with a 1/4" mocha cap. Completely opaque, except around the very edges where wisps of dark brown can be seen amoungst the black abyss.

Smell: A beautiful scotch whiskey scent permeates out of the snifter as soon a pour. Upon further examination, a robust mixture of vanilla, oak, lush milk chocolate, roasted malt and slightly fruity alcohol esters meld together in one incredible nose. Wonderful!

Taste: Deep smoke, mellow and smooth scotch whisky, vanilla and oak. Finishes with an awesome whiskey/alcohol flavor that scrubs the residual malt notes of the palate leaving a pleasantly smoky finish.

Mouthfeel: Spot on! Low carbonation, allowing the lush and viscous body to shine. Thick and delicious.

Overall: Well done! I could drink this all day, everyday! Well crafted would be an understatement. Would be great as an after dinner, nightcap or cigar beer. Glad I came across this one!

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Photo of corby112
4.67/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a thin .5 finger brown head that quickly fades into a lasting ring. Not much in the way of lacing, just some sporadic small spots.

Strong roasted malt aroma with a decent amount of malt whiskey that doesn't overtake the other aromas. Dark chocolate, roasted coffee bean and roasted nut notes. Again, the aroma is dominated by a deep roasted maltiness but there is a good bit of oak and whiskey to balance things out.

Again the flavor is dominated by a deep roasted maltiness with lots of complexity and bitter dark chocolate flavor. However, they whiskey presence is much more prominent in the flavor than in the aroma. Lots of hot whiskey alcohol warmth but fortunately the other flavors still shine through. Not one-dimensional at all. Plenty of roasted coffee bean, burnt toast, hazelnut and dark chocolate notes. Sligthtly sweet because of the strong alcohol, whiskey and chocolate malt components but is overall nicely balanced with even some subtle hops, resulting in a big beer that is quite drinkable. Recommended.

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Photo of kinnaird
4.65/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 07961 / September 2007

After a vigorous pour, it yields a 1 finger, cappuccino colored head that looks chocolate milk delicious. The color of body shows a completely impenetrable opaque black. After several minutes, the head settles down to a ring with several larger, soapy like bubbles.

It smells of rich vanilla and roasty oak with subtle hints of bittersweet chocolate and dark fruits; not unlike a strong stout.

At the tip of the tongue, there are fruity esters followed by a smooth and mild bitterness showing on the flanks. After the swallow, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla really shine through the nasal cavity with a trace of earthiness from the hops. If another sip is not immediately taken, a faint hotness is detected from the alcohol.

The feel of this delectable treat is near perfect. Medium bodied without a heavy coating left in the mouth.

This is a fantastic beer. From beginning to end is an experience that is a pleasure each step of the way. It's classified as an Old Ale, but I would compare it more with a barrel aged stout. The subtle nuances of the single malt really add to the excellent qualities of the beer to make it more than the sum of its parts. If you haven't tried this yet, definitely seek it out. Recommended.

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Photo of erosier
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a deep black color with a medium to tall sized thick tan colored head that laces the glass nicely on the way down.
S: Smells of peat, oak, scotch, sweet roasted malts, hints of caramel, toffee, and chocolate.
T: Tastes of a very nice scotch mixed with a really good beer. Oak, peat, and scotch flavors dominate only slightly over a sweet roasted malt base, caramel malts, toffee, chocolate, and a bit of smoke followed by the scotch flavors at the end.
M: Rich, smooth, warming, perfect amount of carbonation, kind of heavy, but really nice.
D: Overall not a very drinkable beer, but it was a damn good sipping one. Excellent flavors mixed very well made it worth every penny.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was served in a wide mouth goblet. The beer was served lightly chilled.

Appearance: Once more I am a sucker for dark beers. The beer is straight black in color. No ruby opaqueness to light. The head was very thin even with a hard pour. The head is a thin cocoa coloration. Nothing in the way of lacing on the glass.

Smell: This beer has a strong scotch aroma. The scotch aroma is very dominate. The aromas under the scotch are definately subdued by the scotch. Dark roasted malts combine with brown sugar,vanilla, oak, a bit of burnt caramel. The scotch aroma grows greater as the beer warms.

Taste: The flavors of the beer are a bit better combined with the scotch. The beer is a very pleasant combination of brown sugar, molasses, dark well roasted malt. The beer really never hits chared or burnt tones. A bit of dark fruit in the flavor oak, vanilla and an excellent scotch after taste. Yeah its good!...

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The body of the beer is very smooth. The carbonation is low but not problematic. The flavors are long lasting. The beer leaves my glass at a dangerously fast pace. I had to force myself to slow down.

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Photo of KettleBellFreak
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Couldn't have been happier with this beer. Bottle from 2012.

Black as night. No head.

Great coffee, scotch and malt aroma. Bitter chocolate and almonds were there as it warmed.

Scotch character but no boozy burn, smooth malt and bitter chocolate. Sourdough bread and nutella.

Slick as hell, very drinkable.


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Photo of broken22
4.62/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my favorite beers. Some of my other favorites are the 12, 18, 30, and 40. I remember the first time, second time,....I had this beer. So lets get to it.

After taking off the fancy foil cap I pour this dark goop out. A little mocha colored head forms but not enough to keep you from drinking and if you wait a minute it is all but gone. This beer smells great. Smells like roasted chocolate. This beer tastes a lot like it smells and more. At first you get the roasted almost smoky chocolate flavor. I can taste the subtle alcohol characteristics from the whiskey casks. The mouth feel is good. This beer feels lighter on my palate than what it appears it would based on its dark color.

I really like this series of beer. They are all very tasty all through the different ages. The base from which they start is really good without the ageing in the whiskey casks so the whiskey really adds that extra character that makes this an award winning brew. If you like dark beers then you owe it to yourself to try this one.

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Photo of Saviour
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a snifter.
L - opaque black with almost absent head.
S - really rich aroma including wood, tar, chocolate and toffee notes.
T - almost the same as smell with a tobacco aftertaste.
F - full-bodied and low carbonized, great aftertaste.
O - what can I say? Another masterpiece of brewing, for sure.

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Photo of harrymel
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From review verbatim on 11/9/10
Bottled: 1/8/2008

A: Pours dark, deep brown with pecan foam head atop this ale. Nice.

S: Praline, oak, hazelnut, cocoa, mocha, vanilla, roasty. Can't say enough!

T: Wow. Roasty, coffee with lightly oceanic tones. I feel weird, but I can really taste the peat in this!

M: Velvet tickles my tongue as it rolls over the mouth convincing me that beer can be superb! Lower carbonation - possibly because I'm constantly agitating to get the most out of the nose.

D: Wow. Amazing beer! So, so good. Want more.

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Photo of acevenom
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter glass. The beer pours dark brown to black with no head. There's some streaming carbonation that is visible on the side of the glass, but there isn't a lot of it. There are aromas of dark roasted malt, oak, vanilla, and some alcoholic character from the scotch. There's some sweetness from the malt as well as the alcohol. The taste follows the nose for the most part. There's a nice malt backbone that has some dark roastiness and toffee sweetness that mingles with the oak, vanilla, and scotch. Those oak characteristics really blend nicely with the flavors. The body is medium to full with light carbonation. The beer is smooth and drinks pretty well for a bigger beer. This is an excellent beer.

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Photo of optiontwo
4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz. poured into tulip

Appearance: A vigorous pour results in a quarter inch tan, bubbly head that dissipates quickly. The color is black as black can be.

Smell: Plenty of complexity here, first there is a sweetness that I relate to cherries, but still somewhat sour. Then there is a strong smokiness that imparts licorice like aromas. Roasted malt and brandy scents dance around together to close out this performance.

Taste: If it's anything like the smell then I'm excited. The strong smokiness mixes perfectly with the dark fruit flavors and roasted malt. Every flavor balances the other out in a very harmonious way. Sweetness is countered quickly by a bitter hop bite and flavor; nothing too radical, but noticeable nonetheless. Finally it finishes clean and smooth with just the right amount of bitter. Each sip instills the desire for another.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with proper carbonation. Hugely flavored but not overbearing, love it.

Drinkability: For such a delicious, cask-aged brew you'd think it'd be higher than 8% ABV but luckily it is not. I could definitely enjoy another bottle directly after this one, if I had it.

Overall: Simply put, amazing. For a whisky barrel aged beer this is quite refreshing and not too cloying. All the right flavors from the barrel aging are intertwined with the already delicious recipe. This is definitely one to seek out and I will most certainly be trying the other offerings from this brewery.

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Photo of g_rat
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look: jet black, opaque, thin brown head with moderate lacing

Smell: sweet malts, caramel, honey, vanilla, and oak. Possibly the best smell ever!

Taste: tastes like coffee with fresh milk creamer, notes of vanilla, almond, and hazelnut. Finishes with a charred oak and whiskey aftertaste with a slight burn that is not overpowering at all.

Feel: fairly thick and sticky, minimal carbonation.

Overall: Bottle No. 14936 Dated May 2014. Amazing beer! It's a great stout beer as a base with just the right amount of whiskey aftertaste an the right flavors to make an excellent balanced beer.

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours near pitch black with a scant head. Slight brown highlight near the rim if my chalice when held to light.
Chocolate twizzler, some date/ fig.
Taste follows the smell here. This is a great beer. Dark fruit takes center, malt is sweet but just right, and the burning whiskey lurks behind just right. Smooth sipping. Nice chocolate whiskey-like aftertaste and slight burn.
Medium and slick, low carbonation.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 622 ratings.
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