Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
649 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 649 |  Reviews: 310
Photo of RemyLeBeau
1.6/5  rDev -61.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I bought this beer today as a part of a custom six pack at Kahns. I was very excited because I like dark, rich, big beers and from the description I had read I thought this one would be right up my alley. Wrong.

I poured it into my favorite Sam Adams glass and thought the color looked nice. Ola Dubh translates into "old oil" i think, so I got what I expected from the look of it. The smell was very woody and smoky.

On first sip I was disappointed. Slight whiskey flavors and a touch of peat and a lot of molasses. But the most overwhelming flavor was that of sausage. Thats right. This beer tastes overwhelmingly like salty smoked sausage. Which is a flavor that I like, in meats, but not so much in a liquid form.

I had to force this beer down

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Photo of xk6m6m5x
2/5  rDev -51.6%

Photo of DamienI
2.25/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Photo of alcstradamus
2.27/5  rDev -45%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed from notes

Pours black with a small head that disappears rather quickly. Smell is straight up armpit funkiness and chocolate. Not appealing.

The taste is more of the same. Only the armpit is now charred. Wow, this is just a mess. Great mouthfeel so the overall score will be higher than it should be. I haven't really cared for any of the 3 Ola Dubh beers I've tried, so I won't bother seeking out the 40 year.

EDIT: After posting my review I read another person's who claimed they tasted "sausage"...that flavor was definitely present but I didn't identify it on my own. Perhaps I should have paired this with a cheese platter and some Ritz crackers?

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Photo of rdooley
2.5/5  rDev -39.5%

Photo of YvesB
2.55/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Photo of Overlord
2.73/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I really enjoyed the 12 and 30 year old editions a year or two ago, so I figured I'd give this one a try. Wish I hadn't.

Folks, watch out. I don't know if there are new, bad batches, or if the old ones aren't aging well, but this was ... not good.

Pours very black, with a dark brown crust. Almost no bubbling, but it's not an overly thick beer. Perhaps the first warning sign.

Smells of whiskey and some faint notes of roasted malt and coffee. Really not a strong smell, and I remember the other ones having a vivid aroma. Warning sign number two.

Taste was borderline unpleasant. Some soy sauce notes, a whisky/sherry burn, and a pungent aftertaste that wiped out a lot of the nuance. I don't know what happened. Mouthfeel was pretty nice and viscous, too bad the beer isn't that great.

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Photo of Jimmys
2.74/5  rDev -33.7%
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 jrep21pr
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%

Photo of beerandcycling88
2.84/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Bottling date August 2010.

A Pours out black topped off with a mocha head.

S A very strong smokey peat with some faint chocolate. By far the best part of the beer.

T Some faint chocolate and a bit of roast are present however the strong peat character of the scotch dominates.

M A very thin watery mouthfeel.

Overall this is an ok beer that isn't worth the price. The base beer is completely dominated by the scotch barrel and it is incredibly thin almost like water. Overall this one is not worth trying at the price point its at.

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Photo of AgentMunky
2.95/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a Glencairn whisky glass. Bottle number 08590. Bottled(?) September 2007.

A: Dark, opaque, and brooding, with little to no head. Good lacing.

S: Blackberries, blueberries, loads of fruit. Cobbler. This reminds of 1999 JW Lee's Harvest Ale. Deliciously sweet.

T/M: Mehh. Stale, flat, but full of boozy fruit. I don't get much whisky, certainly no Highland Park. As it warms, the quality lessens. I suppose the end taste has a touch of molasses and merest whiff of smoke. Disappointing.

O: Not a very good beer. Certainly not worth the money. I might drink it again, but I would certainly never seek it out or recommend it.

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Photo of oso
3/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of TimH
3/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of seedsofchaos
3.03/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On a recent trip to our local bottle shop, a buddy and I thought we should get a few "special brews" for a NYE toast at midnight. Among three bottles, we were recommended Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16. At $17 a bottle we figured that an Old Ale aged in 16 year scotch barrels would be pretty phenomenal. At $17 a bottle, we expected much more.

Pours much darker than an Old Ale. Think more Imperial Stout. Black with little carbonation. With this type of color I really expected more viscosity. Relatively thin in body...

Not much of a bouquet to speak of... There's a little oak, some bourbon and roasted malt. Not much else. The aroma is dominated by more of a fresh (green) wood smell if you can even use the word "dominated" with such a weak smelling beer.

Ola Dubh under-impresses on the tongue as well. Thin. Fresh oak. Alcohol is hidden fairly well but there is a hint. A bit of smoke and a bit of salt.

Eventually, I'm glad we had some BCBS for a midnight toasting as well because Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 was more of a ticker beer than a memorable toast to a new year.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.15/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. I'm not entirely sure how to judge this beer since it is classified as an old ale but I believe the base beer is an English Porter. July 2009 bottling

A: Pours very dark brown with just a hint of light going through the edges of the beer. About a half a finger of very large bubble light brown foam appears above the beer. It recedes rather quickly. Looks nice.

S: Licorice, milk chocolate, and peaty scotch.

T: Fortunately, the scotch and milk chocolate take over (I don't like licorice). It's almost like I poured a shot of scotch in a glass of chocolate milk. I get some oxidation flavors, which fortunately mix fairly well with the milk chocolate I taste.

M: This is quite thin to a point of being distracting. I think a thicker body would complement the flavors much more.

O: If this was a bit thicker I think it would be much more enjoyable. It could also use more depth, especially as an old ale.

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Photo of Rchap1
3.21/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found this at Sam's on Clybourn in Chicago...not a cheap bottle, $12 apiece.
A: Dark as dark could be. There wasn't a speck of light coming through this thing. Head was very minimal, just a thin dark haze at the top of the glass. Left very fine lacing along the way.
S: Pretty smoky, lots of peat and alcohol scent to it, unsurprisingly. Think I was picking up a hint of cheddar cheese in there as well, but it could've been the smoke overpowering my nose.
T: There's that cheddar cheese, guess I was right! strong alcohol up front, heavy malt taste, not overly hoppy but it'd be hard to tell with how agressive the whisky flavor is in here. The finish didn't impress me, seemed overly bitter and way to strong on the smoke.
M: Very full, but nothing special.
D: This is a sipper for sure. It had a good up-front taste, and you can definitely find the whisky notes you want in there, but I had to take this one way slow.
All in all, a decent if not somewhat gimmicky beer.

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Photo of carlitos92
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Photo of Hellpop65
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Photo of ParlayHard8
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Photo of impending
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%

Photo of Adammleonard
3.32/5  rDev -19.6%

Photo of Goldorak
3.33/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to 3Vandoo for poping the awesome bottle at our last tasting! Bottle 08083/Sept2007

Appearance: Surprise! It's dark, which I didn't expect. It's pretty much pitch black in fact.

Smell: Iodine was the first thing that came through in the nose, something I pick up when I'm sampling a dram of Scotch. Funny, from memory, Highland Park didn't smell like that. Enjoyable smoky and vanilla effluves as well.

Taste: Salty and acidic, it tasted like Tamari sauce, with a side of ashes. Light body, you can tell that the barrel aging stripped the Beer of some of it's 'soul', something I find a bit deplorable. I enjoyed, but this seems to be a case of a Beer not exceeding the sum of it's parts.

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Photo of fredmugs
3.33/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Slightly better than the 12 version.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 649 ratings