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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.
United Kingdom (Scotland)

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: 289 | Ratings: 606
Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 12 ounce bottle into a teku.

A- Finger and a half of dark khaki-colored head, frothy and thick. Persists very well and leaves abundant lace. Body is pitch black and opaque.

S- Oak, some smoke, deep roasted dark malts, peat, dark chocolate and creamy vanilla. I get a smoky barrel smell most prominently.

T- Call me crazy but I'm getting some saltwater and ocean flavors here. Peat, smoke and some oaken flavors too. My brain keeps telling me I'm getting a salted caramel flavor and I have to agree with my brain there. As the beer warms, I get more chocolate, chocolate and scotch actually.

M- The body is surprisingly lighter than I expected. It borders on thin, but there's enough creaminess and malt that I'm not disappointed. There's a smoky, peaty character, as well as many other scotch characteristics, but I don't get any alcohol heat. It drinks smoothly and I'd have to be careful not to throw back too many of these. Oh wait, it costs about $10 a bottle so I couldn't afford to anyways. Hehe.

I really enjoy the salty, briny, oceanlike characteristics of this beer. It's a good one. I'd certainly have again, although for the price, I feel I could get bombers of bourbon-barrel aged beers at a better value. Just a thought.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

(bottle no. 04712, FEB 2012 - purchased at Old Philly Ale House)

A: jet black liquid - revealed later to be only deep brown... 1/4" tan head, keeps some scattered islands of bubbles 'round the outer edges... no lace, no legs

S: fairly bold, unique bouquet (those first whiffs are always the best, no?).... dominant vanilla scent with some touches of old wood.... sweet cream, a chocolatier's shop....overtone of wildflowers (or lavender?)....background roast, molasses.... leather armchair

T: bitter chocolate and ash up front.... finishes with faint charcoal, dark chocolate, and a late hit of molasses.... bit of a newspapery oxidation which blends in nicely.... no real "whisky" notes.... late, lasting leathery note... perhaps some toasted raisin in there as well

M: starting slowly during the sip, a subtle alcohol warmth develops and spreads out as it goes down.... slight powdery effect... quite silky-smooth with a faint drying in the finish... minimal play from carbonation

O: very tasty and ridiculously moreish.... a notch or two better than the Ola Dubh 12

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Photo of BradC
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet oily black with very little to no head, slight lacing.

Smells earthy, oaky, burnt wood

All kinds of Flavors here, bitter chocolate, dark burned fruits, peat, oak, not much of an alcohol presence.

Very little carbonation, beer is full bodied but not syrupy, very easy drinking.

Overall, a very nice complex beer. This one was bottles July 2011, so it already has a couple years on it.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

$10.99 for 11.2 oz. Bottle #0835, bottled on 2/2012. Purchased on a business trip and drank in my hotel room. Poured into a highball glass.

A truly unique beer, but disappointing. 3.5

A – Pours black with a half-finger tan rocky head, opaque, not at all viscous, average lacing. 3.75

S – Dark fruit/raisin, sweet but not cloying, metallic (-), grape preserves some smokiness, port notes 3.75

T – Roasted malt, but not too bitter, no whiskey flavor, no noticeable alcohol. 3.5

MF – Medium bodied, semi-dry finish, thing by my expectations, slightly metallic 3.25

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Photo of wogreen
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A- thick, black motor oil..no head
S - Oaky, earthy aroma with hints of chocolate
T - warm, thick, malty, chocolate bitter flavor
M - small amount of effervescence present in the back
O - very smooth scotch ale. i expected a stronger hint of whiskey but it is well balanced. great warmer for a cold day.

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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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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled in 7/2011. Pours nearly opaque dark brown color with a small dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, brown sugar, raisin, peat smoke, wood, tobacco, leather, toast, light vanilla, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and deep complexity of dark/roasted malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, brown sugar, raisin, peat smoke, wood, tobacco, leather, toast, dark bread, vanilla, light clove, and roasted earthiness. Lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, brown sugar, raisin, peat smoke, wood, toast, tobacco, dark bread, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice flavors with deep complexity and great balance of dark/roasted malt and scotch barrel flavors; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a moderately creamy, smooth, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barrel aged old ale. All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and scotch barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Roguer
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a surprisingly strong, solid, 1 finger tan head. Brew lives up to the name, being oily and black. Head retention is excellent for the style, and lacing is nice.

Aroma is scotch followed by chocolate malts, cream, and wheat. Everything is balanced and gentle.

Whoa, the flavor is a huge surprise! Roasted barley and burnt black coffee immediately hit you with a dry bite. The scotch adds an impressively smooth smoky sweetness underneath and on the back-end.

Mouthfeel is thinner than I expected, but balance is superb. Little sting, medium foaming. The feel is what really separates this from a BA stout. A little alcohol heat on the back-end.

This is a surprisingly delicate brew, and it was well worth the high price tag for a try. I don't think I'm going to pick it up often at this price, but I recommend you give it a try.

Bottled February 2012, so it's a 13 month old batch.

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Photo of CurtFromHershey
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and very dark ruby with next to no carbonation. Extremely viscous. Nothing spectacular but nothing wrong with it either.

Smell is unlike any other beer I've had. Boozy, smokey, vanilla, and maybe a hint of soy sauce.

Taste is a bit heavier on the soy sauce than the smell, but it doesnt detrscg entirely from the wealth of other flavors going on here. Definite peated scotch, licorice, and a savory flavor i cant pin down.

Mouth feel is thick and slick. No sugary stickiness. Low carbonation.

Overall this is a very complex beer that I'm glad I got to try. Probably not a style I'm crazy about, but the quality is there.

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Photo of roblowther
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Bottled April 2013. I didn't have the patience. Well, I've never had it so I'm not investing aging space on it....taste....untasted? Whatever the flavor version of sight unseen is. Looks like used motor oil. Very little carbonation, pitch black, syrupy and with the barest hint of a fleeting dark caramel froth. It smells of old places. Fruitcake, wood, hay, it just makes me picture an ancient house in the English countryside somewhere. The taste is fantastic. It is very subtle given the way the beer looks and pours. It is light and dark, if that makes sense. Dark chocolate, carob, wood, it manages to balance all of these really, really well. It masks the alcohol well and just is really surprisingly easily drinkable for a black, viscous brew. Mouthfeel could use carbonation. Probably not stylistically but it would break things up and add a little levity to this serious beer. Overall, really, really nice. Not as challenging as some old ales can be, with a lot going on and it manages to remain very approachable. Its like that physics professor you had in college who was so smart it drained your calculator battery when he entered the room but he managed to be so entertaining that you never forgot him. You know the one.

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Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated August 2010. 3 years old.

A: Pours a rich dark brown with an enormous and frothy chocolate milk-colored head. Head fades quite slowly; great retention. Minimal lacing, just little specks here and there.

S: Rich peat and a little smoke. Chocolate abound with a decent amount of char too.

T: Up front you get some peat from the whiskey. Sweet chocolate follows it up. Touch of acrid smoke in the middle, just briefly. Finish is bittersweet chocolate and hints of peat with just a touch of vanilla from the oak.

M: Medium bodied, ultra smooth.

O: Another nice version in the venerable Ola Dubh lineup. Not as mild as the 12 year but not as strong as the 18 which had quite a bit more whiskey character. Really a good middle ground having said that. Tasty and drinkable. Not as much chocolate as the other versions oddly enough. I enjoyed it a lot regardless. Nice balance and it goes down super easily.

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Photo of beeragent
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter from a bottle.

A - pours a deep brown, appearing black in the glass and thick enough to prevent any highlights.

S - whiskey, sweet malt, and a hint of vanilla.

T - smooth whiskey, wood and vanilla, and caramel malt comes through the strongest. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M - not as heavy bodied as expected, more medium but with good carbonation. Mouthfeel is very smooth and clean.

O - great flavors and aromas with this one. Above and beyond what I expect from an old ale.

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Photo of stumac
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This little bugger jumped out at me! Drinking this with my corn dog. Pours up black with zero head. Nose is brown sugar, chocolate, smoke, peat, vanilla bean. Taste is all of that wrapped into a little tortilla. Medium body, mild carbo. What a tasty brew. Hail Scotland!!!

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Photo of mick303
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vertical tasting, from notes.
A - thin whispy lacing, thick black colour 4
S - coffee, plummy esters, fragrant berries, rich vanilla, raspberries. 4.25
T - more rich coffee, salt, lot of wood character, dry vanilla, very flavourful and tasty. Salty nute, dry woody finish. So complex and rich. 4.5
M - dry, some dry alcohol spice, no carbonation, thick and rich feel. 4
O - a dry berry and fruity character, no harshness, some earthy spice. Nose is is very rich, taste has smooth sweet coffee, light bitterness, toasty and honey, dry bitter coffee grounds on finish. 4.25

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Photo of heygeebee
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - black 'n' tan one finger head clingy lace

Smell - vanilla, roasts, choc.

Taste - dark chocolate, roast malts, vanilla, hint brown sugar.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, moderately oily

Overall - delighful beer, well balanced, and moderate bitterness. Just like dark chocolate in a glass.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to GRG1313 for gifting me this one.

Bottled 1/2009. Bottle # 06435.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that fades to nothing. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, molasses, smoke, wood, whisky, and some oxidation aromas. Taste is much the same with dark roasted malt, cocoa, and whisky flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness and a very slight tang on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with some complex aromas that I am enjoying slightly more than the flavor.

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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 stephenjmoore
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Dated August 2010

A- Pours a very dark brown and settles into the glass as an oily black. Frothy tan head that lingers around for awhile.

S- Baker's chocolate, boozy scotch with hints of vanilla, oak, caramel and smoke, roasted malts.

T- Big roasty malts up front, huge flavor. The big roasty flavors give way to lots of oak and vanilla about half way through, which stays around until the finish.

M- Mostly smooth, with just a hint of sharpness towards the end. Slightly boozy, but very drinkable.

O- Very good beer with lots of flavor complexity. Big roast, oak and vanilla.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this is a very interesting beer, superior in some ways to the 18yr, oddly. the pour is a matte black color, deep chocolate brown, fairly thick, and with only a thin finger of tan bubbles. the nose is raw cocoa and scotch, its musty and oaky, and the malt is about as black as it can be without being bitter and burnt. the alcohol smells are beautiful in this beer, the barrel has obviously done quite a bit to this. the flavor is surprisingly unsweetened. there is some vanilla and toasted coconut, but none of that is sugary. the alcohol adds flavor without burn, and it actually has a very mellow feel. dark chocolate and bran muffin are the dominant flavors in the finish, in addition to the scotch whiskey. full body and a smooth feel, maybe a little chalky, but the finish is long and complex. there is much to appreciate about this special brew, a very different tune to this than the American barrel aged beers. there is something particularly well refined about this, polished and calculated, intentional, as opposed to the sometimes random chance barrel offerings from this country. very impressive.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Review taken from notes(winter-early December 2012)

33cl brown bottle with classy Harviestoun Mouse logo just above the Highland Park style label. Info is all there with brewer, year and bottle number: 63833. Poured into a tulip style imperial pint glass.

A -Basically black in color. I suppose it's true color would be extremely dark brown. Small off white head fades quickly leaving a small ring of lace with virtually no stick.

S - hints of caramel and vanilla with some bigger molasses notes. Dark fruit mixed within. Good smokiness in the aroma. A few waves of smokey Scotch flavors. Faint sweetness in the background while keeping its roasted character.

T - Dark Fruit flavors paired with blasts of Scotch flavor done neat. Roastiness blankets the caramel and vanilla sweetness. A nice smokiness throughout. Touch of Scotch booziness in the finish.

M - oil like texture that does a wonderful job of coating the mouth. Smooth feel and very enjoyable.

O - man are these Ola Dubh style old ales good. A great brewery paired with a great distillery is what any geek dreams of. Ola Dubh is just that. The 12 was pure class and the 16 may be even better. Next is the 18 sitting in my fridge. These ales are a must try and something I'll definitely have again.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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

Bottled in 09/2007. Swiss wine snifter used. Nearly 5 1/2 years old in the bottle, over 6 total.

Pours black with very little carbonation. A slight ring around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is powerful. Scotch is easily apparent. Sherry seasoned oak, "peat smoke" (I have never smelled peat but have drank enough scotch to understand what the term means for beverages), char, wood, and vanilla notes all meld together. In addition, there is a significant presence of aged dark beer that takes the form of oxidized port wine and savory meat aromas. This should be interesting.

The flavor is much less oxidized than I thought it might be from the nose. The smoke is much lass "peaty" and is more pronounced. More like a smoked piece of meat. No grain flavors are left, and the savory aspect is apparent. A touch of old dark fruit and a little sweet makes an appearance, but the smoky flavors dominate. I can't say that I taste "scotch" itself, however this certainly tastes as if it was aged in scotch barrels as opposed to bourbon or just oak. I do believe I can pick up a little sherry-seasoned oak, but that might be my imagination.

The mouthfeel shows little carbonation, but a thick medium-full body. Age may have proved a weighty opponent, but this beer must have had some serious body to begin with to have this much left now. nice overall feel that stays nice as it warms.

Conclusion: I love old beer. And I love it more when it still tastes this good! Not exactly what I expected, and all the savory flavors are a bit disappointing, but overall this is a fantastic 6 year old beer. I have wanted to try this for a long time. Now I want to find a fresher bottle!

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Photo of cvm4
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled Feb. 2012

A - Pours pitch black dark with a dark tan head. Not much lacing to speak of.

S - Picking up smokey, peaty, roasty and slight metallic.

T - Oaky, smokey, peaty and vanilla. A very scotch like finish with dark fruits & light chocolate.

M - Very smooth & creamy. ABV is well hidden. Not a thick or chewy beer by any means.

O - Pleasant & enjoyable... If you like scotch, then give this series a whirl.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours black as hell with a small mocha head with no light penetration. No lacing is left as well.

S -Molasses, peat, vanilla, white chocolate, alcohol.

T - Bourbon, white chocolate, peat, slight molasses. Surprisingly no burn from the aging in the Whiskey Barrels.

M - Body seems a bit watery. Seems decently oily with a medium amount of carbonation. Overall pretty lacking in this department.

O - Overall, I thought this was pretty spot on for an old ale. This particular one was bottled in July 2011 so it's about a year and a half old. I'd definitely have again.

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Photo of Odysseyalien
4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The difference between old ales and English barleywines often get blurred. This one is no exception. Has a mouthfeel not unlike a porter but with a malty sweetness, albeit soft and subtle, like a barleywine.

My first couple of sniffs exclaimed "licorice, anise...". Not a fan of licorice but it works with this brew. Thin mouthfeel and pours black as the darkest midnight.

I'm apparently a sucker for pricey beer. I'll have to add this one to the rotation...and age a few as well.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 606 ratings.
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