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: 294 | Ratings: 617
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 utopiajane
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Pours dark and beautiful with a creamy head of mocha colored foam. Nose is malty, chocolate. Creaminess, roast. Hint of vanilla, some earthy peat and a bit of scotch whiskey. Taste is lovely. Broad and bitter raost. Dry bittersweet chocolate. Suppl;ea earth and peat a smooth hint of vanilla. The malt is smooth and supple. Smooth coffee. Viscuous soft body. A mouthfeel like heaven on this beer. Woody, cherry sweet black earth. Velvety. A light boozy warmth. Mild scotch whiskey flavor. Crisp dry finish.

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Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

Let me describe this brew for you. It first looks very ominous. Very dark brown body almost on the verge of being black, yet it possesses an eerie glow around the body. Very interesting. The aroma speaks to me saying, roasted malts that bring forth warming caramel. Also some cocoa nibs with a touch of molasses sweetness. There is also a wood aspect very earthy and calming. Very nice on the nose. Now for the taste. Semi sweet malts that help to showcase the whiskey part of the brew. Molasses and roasted malts that are trying to compete with the whiskey. Very balanced. In the aftertaste is of toasted marshmallows and a nice pipe tobacco flavor that is dissolving into a faint vanilla. The finish is dry slightly bitter very elegant. The feel is Medium-light with soft carbonation.

Overall: Hands down this beer is delicious! Everything seems to meld together in a sophisticated manner. This beer is very light for being an 8% brew. Drinkable beyond belief and very balanced. This brew is recommended.

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Photo of woemad
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2oz bottle that was bottled in July, 2009, according to the label, and aged in oak barrels that previously contained Highland Park scotch for 16 years. I bought this at Enoteca in Post Falls, Idaho, several years ago.

Poured into an Iron Goat sinfter, this was an impenetrable dark color, with about a finger’s worth of mocha-colored, bubbly foam that subsided somewhat quickly, though it left a foam ring that hung around for a while. It looked quite a bit better than I expected when I popped the cap and was greeted with the most anemic “phht” I’ve heard from a beer for a long time.

Big woodsy and “whiskey-ey” nose to this. I also get some dark fruit, but the booziness stands out.

A smooth booze-beer flavor to this. I was afraid that this would be all boozy heat, but I’m happy to report that it’s better balanced than that. The boozy, oaky flavor is what hits first, but it’s restrained enough to blend with figgy and brown sugary notes. There’s also some tobacco-like flavors in the background, leading me to wonder if this might stand up well to a good stogie (for me, cigar smoking is definitely a spring and summer sport, and after about a six month layoff, I’m feelin’ the need to get me a quality smoke)

Thick, velvety mouthfeel. A little low on carbonation, as I expected when I opened it and heard… well, almost nothing, but it actually works well here.

I didn’t know what to expect from this, and my heart sank with the thought of an expensive drainpour when I popped it’s top, but I’m rather pleased with this. My only wish is that I had saved it to be a dessert following a rich meal

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Photo of beergoot
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A brown pour that fills the glass to a nearly opaque black appearance; thin yet creamy mocha-colored head. Chocolate, coffee grounds, grapes and figs comprise the aroma. Milk chocolate sweetness in the flavor, well-tempered with a whisky edge at the finish. Medium-heavy body; smooth and rich mouthfeel.

A fine dark ale that delivers depth and complexity with bold malt sweetness tempered with Scotch whisky undertones. Seems similar to a Russian imperial stout in many ways. Intriguing and rewarding and should satisfy any lover of big dark ales.

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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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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 617 ratings.
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