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 Radcpa
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Light brown appearance with little head but just the right amount of carbonation. Complex aroma with a slight nutty coffee hint. Excellent nutty flavor.

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Photo of sokol_1993
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had one on Jan 1st. Happy new year!
Look: pitch black, with little head but good lacing.
Smell: Molasses, burnt sugar, some malty taste.
Taste: Dominantly molasses, but also some spiciness, licorice, with a distinct burnt malt bitterness. Creaminess. Little hoppiness. Very chewy and viscous.
Feel: viscous and luscious, full body. Great after taste.

Excellent brew, I'd rate it higher than its brother Ola Dubh 12.

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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 Schimms
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: Poured into a large snifter - no head whatsoever. Inky black.

S: Smells of faint whisky and roasted malt.

T: Subtle peat, roasted coffee, sweet dry plums. Interesting how the whisky is more prevalent than other ales. Great roasted flavor at the end. Juicy up front with a large burst of flavor. Little to no alcohol burn or flavor.

F: Dry, thin to medium.

O: A great whisky barrel aged ale. Great for anyone that loves the roasted malt combined with whisky!

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.11/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- Pours a chestnut brown color with super fine bubbles that make up the thinly covering head.....the only real unfortunate part of the look. Lacing is oily in nature....overall not a hugely impressive look but it will do.

S- Semi sweet dried fruits, such as figs, and slightly of raisins, alongside burnt brown sugars, bitter chocolate, oat flakes, coffee, licorice root, vanilla, and some mild smokiness!

T- The flavors follow the aromas closely with plenty of toffee/molasses stickiness and a bonfire wood flavor about it....like a mild version of liquid smoke, dried prune/raisin/fig...rich and mature, bitter dark chocolate, creamed coffee, vanilla smoothness, some nuttiness, deep cane sugar, honeyed oak...the finish is robust and lingering on the palate like a smoked meat...very nice!

M/O- This is a very smooth bodied, with tight carbonation and this really does have its' own unique character. Drinkablility is good, but after one bottle I am good and ready to move on....well balanced overall and the alcohol is well hidden....I would recommend this with an old cheddar and/or dark chocolate on a cold evening!

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin head that dissappears quickly, but leaves light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, molasses, brown bread and light smoke. Flavor of dark, lightly toasted malt, chocolate, molasses, smoked peat, hints of oak and dark dried fruit. Finishes with lightly peaty mellow dark malt. Medium bodied with slight creaminess and light carbonation. Flavor is dark and complex, but relatively subdued and mellow. Dark malt with chocolate is the dominant flavor, with only hints of fruit. The peat from the scotch barrels is mild at first, but creates a nice lingering light finish. A classic old ale that well balanced and smoky.

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Photo of daydesiang
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma: roasted dark malts, bitter chocolate, peated. Appearance: black color and beige head. Taste: low herbal bitterness, bitter chocolate, peated, bonfire, smoked notes, burnt malt, quite dry. Palate: medium body and medium carbonation, peated finish. Overall: It is a really good stuff, amazing peated notes, smooth and complex. **Copied

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Photo of Offa
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a great old ale. I had a bottle from Aug. 2010 and drank it on 10 Dec. 2012, reviewed here from notes in an effort to deal with some old backlog.

Black, smallish tan head soon thinning to frothy ring and wisps.
Aroma - strong whiskeyish, rummy stewed very dark prunes, dried figs, sour chocolate.
Taste - bittersweet dry chocolate, dry roasty woodiness, nice rummy fig/raisin sweetness underneath. Overall, fairly dry and roasty, lightly sour, lightly smoky, great.

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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 Jimmys
2.74/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

11.2 fl oz bottle. bottle no. 05410. Sept 2007.

A: pours still practically. opaque. dark brown, very dark brown.

S: a lot of autolysis in the aroma. really heavy on the soy sauce. trying to find more, but cannot get past this aspect.

T: flavors cover up the harsh aroma. some mild peat, mild char. very mellow but still very present. you can certainly tell this came from a scotch barrel. finish is bitter dark chocolate. I don't think there is a lot of fruit here, bitter dark malt/roast flavors preside.

M: very still, essentially flat. medium/full bodied. slick and thick all at the same time.

D: I stumbled upon this and a couple other Special Reserves all at once. purchased the 21 and this to do a side-by-side, got home and then realized one was 7 years older than the other, not to mention 9 years old from now. not that that is going to stop me from drinking this! unfortunately, past its prime with the high level of autolysis. however glad I am still getting some aspects of the delicious Highland Park barrel.

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Photo of Zythophile
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle Date: May 2014
Palate Contaminants: none

If it looks good, buy it. Unless you already have too much. (Note from later: I try to be optimistic.)

Appearance is very dark, and there's not much lacing in the glass, either.

Smell is pleasant for such a dark brew. If there's one thing that could roll it all up into one, I'd say semi-sweet, fresh rye bread.

I had high hopes with the smell, but the taste isn't nearly as nice. I'm under the impression that this is one that should age okay, so I can't just write it off; it's one for the record. It's palatable, but I won't be looking for more. Basically, start with your basic Guinness, make it a little thinner, add a little bitterness, and then a heaping dose of charred barrel. This might make a great marinade.

At least, this is my bottle. Your mileage may vary.

Feel is thin for a dark beer.

Here's hoping my bottle of 18 is better.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

May 2014 bottle into a Teku at cellar temp.

Look: dark brown, but light peeks through around the edges. Minimal light tan head.

Smell: smokey and sweet. Hint of alcohol heat.

Taste: smokey and sweet. Strikes me as richer and more complex than the 12-year I had a while back. Light-roasted coffee, strawberry, cream, vanilla, char, and kiwi/grass are all notes I get.

Feel: medium/thick, with low (but stylistically appropriate) carbonation. Leaves a strange sort of dryness.

Overall: I'd lowered my expectations for this based on the 12-year, which was fine but nothing special. However, I enjoyed this considerably more. Will contemplate picking up another bottle, even at the steep price.

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Photo of Brolo75
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours dark brown, almost black, with ruby red around the edges, no head retention, no lacing, low carbonation, looks pretty good.

A: Vanilla, toffee, picking up some dark fruits like raisins, no alcohol on the nose, not getting any of the barrel notes, reminds of a barley wine.

T: Sweet toffee, caramel, vanilla, oak and barrel come through in the aftertaste, lingering oak, wood notes, hints of raisins and figs, alcohol is well hidden. Picked up some dark red wine notes as the beer warmed.

M: Medium bodied beer with low carbonation.

O: This is really solid but I think it's overpriced at $12 for a single bottle, doesn't pop with as much flavor as I was hoping, pretty subtle flavors and aroma. It's very smooth, drinkable, and balanced.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle number and date: 08676 / Sept 2007

Appearance - Pours black with a cluster of bubbles that find their way to the edge of the glass and slowly pop away.

Smell - Slightly sour notes, along with traces of charred oak, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste - Dull, distant flavors that follow the nose. Mostly old, earthy oak. A hint of smoke, vanilla and chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with almost zero carbonation. Slick, smooth texture with a slightly dry finish.

Overall - I got this for a Christmas present. I hadn't noticed the bottling date until now. Nearly 9 years old, yeesh! I'd say it passed the optimal age quite a few years ago. What's left is remnants of what I can only imagine was a pretty darn tasty treat during it's peak. This is one I'll have to keep an eye out for and review again.

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Photo of spacecake9
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Was happy to find this on a local shelf.
A - Pours black with a small white-ish head.
S - The aroma is sweet and smoky.
T - The flavor is smoky, woody, perhaps some caramel.
M - Thick with little carbonation.
O - I allowed this to warm to room temperature before tasting. But I did not get the complex flavors I was hoping for. Not bad but does not justify the price.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle, served in a thistle glass. Bottling date of April 2013. Bottle number 07462.

Appearance: Very dark brown approaching black. Thin light tan ring of foam. An occasional strand of lacing that would very slowly slide back down the glass.

Smell: I had to let this warm all the way up to room temp to really bring out the aroma. Molasses, toasted malt, whiskey, charred oak.

Taste: Lots of flavors going on here. In no particular order: buttery toffee, caramelized malt, fine scotch whiskey, oak, and at the finish, a bit of smokiness blended with sweetness. The smoke gets more peaty and lingers a bit past the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Nice thickness, lightly carbonated. A bit sticky on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: A fine sipping beer, and one that you need to let warm up all the way before drinking - it's much better warm. Not as smoky / peaty as I was expecting from the description, but good none the less. One is enough though at the price. Not amazing enough for me to get again but definitely worth having once.

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Photo of tronester
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear very dark brown, with almost no head. Smells of molasses and some smoke. The taste begins with a bit of scotch whisky, then some chocolate, followed by peat, and finishing with a earthy bready flavor. Mouthfeel is good. Overall an excellent beer. I aged this one for years, and it was no worse for the wear.

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Photo of JackieKu
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Best before 2015-08.

A: opaque. No head.
S: Roasted. Salty. Coffee. A little woody.
T: Herbal: mainly thyme. Cocoa. Low bitterness. Nearly dry and dry finish.
M: Full bodied.
O: Interesting and flavorful oak aged stout.

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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 Jeffo
3.4/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one in Bodegraven. Drank this one, then the 18yr and 21.

From a 33cl bottle into a snifter
May 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.

SMELL: Some peated whisky, aromas of leather and some dark chocolate on the nose. Medium strength. Nice, but not overly impressive.

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.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body and medium levels of carbonation. A bit watery, unfortunately. Goes down fine and finishes somewhat sticky.

OVERALL: This is pretty nice, but for some reason, it's nowhere near the 2010 bottle of Dubh 12yr I had about a year ago. This one had some nice earthy and peated whisky characteristics going on, but it just wasn't nearly as black and decadent as that 2010 bottle. Still, a fine brew worth checking out.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a lovely black that you can not see through with a tan head that laces the glass as you drink. The smell was full of coffee and wood with a sweetness of dark chocolate as well. The taste was heavy in the front with caramel and chocolate coming through with bitter espresso and the wood from the scotch barrels coming through on the finish. Not overly thick but had a good body to it. One to keep an eye out for.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

As black as midnight on a moonless night, no head, great aroma.this is a really complex beer, chocolate,caramel, whiskey and dark fruit....gets better the further down the bottle you get.overall an absolutely superb beer, ive got a 30 to try next.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black oily pour with a really small tan string of foam, leaving a nice curtain as it recedes.
Mildly peated Scotch and roast on the nose, rich dark chocolate, oaky vanilla, burnt sugar, faint dark fruit.
Nice clear dry Scotch in the start, but not boozy at all. Rich roasted malts, with a touch of dark bread, light chocolate and some burnt sugar. Woody towards the finish, with a bit of smoke and peat, touch of vanilla, faint coffee bean. Dried up by a bit of Scotch, just mildly warm.
Aftertaste is bready, bittersweet, with nice oak barrel notes. Medium to light body actually, low carbonation, just a tiny bit sticky.
Not as robust as Engine Oil, not as complex as Ola Dubh 30, but it's a really huge show for whisky barrel aging. Easy to drink, clean and tasty.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Rich, smoky aroma has a strong overtone of fine whisky and a hint of caramel. Pours a deep, warm sable with a thick, fine-bubbled tan head that leaves some good lacing. Smoky mocha flavor has a firm whisky note and hints of caramel and molasses. Firm-bodied texture has a good amount of tingle, and leaves a smoky, syrupy finish. Most worthy.

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Photo of matt_duthie
4.57/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to try this for a long time, of any vintage barrel, decided on the 16-year at the same price as younger barrels...

A: Poured nearly opaque with the edges a dark translucent brown, but only barely. Two finger dark khaki head, very nice looking beer.

S: Exactly what I'd expect Old Engine Oil that's been sitting in a single-malt barrel to smell like: roasty, big whiff of scotch whiskey, hops come through a little bit, but a solid barreled porter. Excited to taste it.

T: Oh so good. The whiskey is subdued, but certainly there. Char/peat, coffee, chocolate, some indiscript dark fruit in there somewhere, slight bitterness without any distinctive hop flavor, but a balanced sweetness about the whole thing. 11.2 oz. may not be enough.

M: Full but not overly thick. Low-medium carbonation, begs to sit in your mouth a bit before swallowing. Wonderful.

O: Can't wait to try other iterations on this excellent base beer, aged in seemingly perfect barrels for it to take on additional flavor and complexity. Can't believe it's taken so long to suck it up and pay the premium for what is clearly a beer worth its price.

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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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