Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12
856 Ratings
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ola Dubh (or "Black Oil") is so named because it is gloopy and viscous. This limited release has been matured in casks from Orkney's award-winning Highland Park distillery to add complementary whisky notes to what is already an amazing brew. It is chocolatey with a roasty, bittersweet aftertaste.

Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky was awarded a Double Gold medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007; it lends balance, smoothness and subtle smoke.

Added by Bitterbill on 02-17-2008

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 856 |  Reviews: 392
Photo of Holderness
3.1/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

L -- Deep clarified reddish amber with a quickly dissipating rocky tan head produced with aerated pour. No retention or lacing
S -- Molasses, peat, hint of booze
T -- Molasses, brown sugar, just a hint of scotch barrel character and dark chocolate
F -- Quite limp and watery for the ABV. No silkiness or viscocity to speak of. Surprising
O -- Not quite what I was expecting. Not much different from your run-of-the-mill scotch ale, but the barrel aging does add a bit of a unique character


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Photo of Knickfan3
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of NolaHopHead
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Tucquan
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2018-03-29 in Columbia, PA from a 11.2oz bottle # 06453 from 2014.

A - Opaque dark brown with just a hint of ruby. 1-finger light brown head and very good lace.

S - Chocolate malt and peaty scotch. A unique aroma for sure, and one that is quite appealing.

T - Very-well-toasted brown bread with some char on the crust, which has been slathered with original Nutella and consumed while simultaneously sipping a dram of the very-peaty Highland Park Scotch while also doing expresso shooters. Finishes with oak tannin and roasted bitterness but the peaty malt hangs in there too.

M - Medium-heavy body and light carbonation. Creamy but also astringent from the char bitterness.

O - I wouldn't have guessed this combination of flavors would work so well together. I like peaty scotch and nuts and chocolate and beer so this works for me! Pretty cool.

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Photo of Bf_89
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of patre_tim
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown to almost black with a ruby tinge. Topped with 3 fingers of creamy, beige head.

Smells of whiskey, cream, toffee, and slightly smokey.

Deep and roasted notes but extremely smooth with hints of whiskey, toffee, coffee and caramel. A touch of oak barrel is in there too.

Very light and frothy texture, that totally covers the ABV. Slightly oily, but lightened by the carbonation.

Got this in Toronto a couple days ago, drinking at Lake Muskoka Jan 21st, 2018. Excellent, top of the line brew.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.62/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - very dark brown and clear, with zero head.

Aroma - strong rich malt, sweet molasses, oak and light whiskey,

Taste - Bitter coffee, woody, hints of whiskey, almost a little smoky

Mouthfeel - surprisingly thin but OK.

Overall - after cellaring 7+ years and waiting to try out the series, I was a little disappointed. Good for an old ale but I expected more from the buildup.

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Photo of travelguy
4.48/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of StormAles
4.41/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Tomesco
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of steverx8
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of beeragent
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MattSn
3.59/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Cramshawbar
1.96/5  rDev -52.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

This well constructed beer will essentially hinge on one important question: do you like whiskey or not? It's that simple, because the whiskey taste is obviously overwhelming, even within this 12 year association (I can imagine the 40 year).
My answer is: I really don't like whiskey at all.
I knew this going into this $6 bottle (330ml), but I had to try it, because I will try practically anything.
I utterly hated this one. So very gross to me, that I had to pour most of it down the drain.
Sorry whiskey lovers.

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Photo of Tony210
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: pours thin, black but not impervious to light. Minimal head with large foam bubbles.

Smell: some molasses, a little vanilla and whiskey, yeast.

Taste: sweet, roasty, chocolate malt , bittersweet chocolate, roasted espresso. Slightly bitter finish.

Feel: surprisingly thin

Overall: had to try it, very underwhelmed. Pricy for a 12 oz.

12 oz bottle
3.5 rating

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Photo of Darwood77
4.65/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of paulish
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Borzov1982
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm not a maximalist, but it's taste, aroma, style, alcohol, which you open once every 10 years and less often. I really liked it.

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Photo of puck1225
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Very dark brown with a slight head and decent lacing. Smell and taste of licorice and dark chocolate. Nice spiciness and even a bit of strawberry. Just a hint of the Scotch whiskey. A bit thin, but a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Bdubz94
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle dated Sept 2014. Number 04803.

Pours pitch black color. Thin .5 finger dark tan head. Some retention.

Smells roasty and chocolaty. Some whisky as well. Definitely boozy on the nose.

Taste is like mellowed whisky. Definite booze and chocolate. Sweet with some dark fruit notes.

Feel is thinner than expected. A bit too watery for the style.

Overall an interesting take on the style. A bit too thin for my liking.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle no: 02106 Bottled on: FEB 2014
Opened on 7/23/17

A thick and oily black color. A small, brown foam cap forms, fizzles out to just a thin ring. As expected from a cask aged heavyweight.

The nose has some seriously remarkable aspects, such as: Honey bbq chicken, toasty herbs, toasty coffee, chocolate, oak/woody cask with a boozy effect and vanilla sweetness. Seriously complex.

A thick, smooth and oily body and mouthfeel. Once again, very expected from such a cask relaxed brew and with further aging of three years. A malty wonder, cocoa and dark roasted coffee, oak and vanilla cask and whiskey effects that seem very deep and rich in flavor and texture. Some mild heat rides on for a bit, dark wild berries and wood fire smoke carries on. Old leather, maple bbq sauce with a peaty, earthy and herbal backdrop and base.

This is seriously a righteously aged Scottish ale with rather deep complexity from the high quality oak casks and whiskey charecter. High quality.

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Photo of Chuckdiesel24
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle to snifter.
The appearance was a mostly dark brown close to black color with a finger's worth of eggshell white foamy head that slid off at a good pace. Lace seemed stringy and sliding.
The aroma had some whiskey, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, some earthiness, plums, ash/char, sweet wood/somewhat like oak, and a clean airy sort of red grapes.
The flavor started sweet and developed a fantastic sort of dried dark fruitiness rolling over top of some of that whisky sweet booziness. Aftertaste was malty sweet with the red grapes, oak/sweet wood and earthiness.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a fair sipping quality as the alcohol notes were felt. Carbonation leaned out as expected but didn't bother me (I don't know the date of the bottle, but I do know this is aged). ABV did seem to keep to brewer's projections.
Overall, an absolutely wonderful take on an old ale. I'd love to have again.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(11.2 oz bottle, code 06589 FEB 2014... poured into a teku)

L: tall, two-finger width, tan-colored foam (with green-gray highlights) atop impenetrably black (deep brown) liquid... the foam quietly dies down into a messy, fish eye film, then later disappears, leaving only thin, pimply collar and random webby blots of lace

S: dark, molasses-y, hard-crumb cookie... overtones of sea air and ash... hints of charred, caramelized wood... marginally toffee-like aroma packed into the background... little boozy notes... the apparent depth and grit to the malt is tantalizing

T: aftertaste is charred coffee grounds, rust, dry grass, twice-baked molasses knuckles... immediate flavors are roasted nut, dark cocoa powder... bright but super-delicate, almost grappa-like thread of alcohol hanging in the finish... very little oak or whiskey character coming through, but what's there wraps around the gloriously grimy, gristly malt wonderfully

F: only subtle waves of warmth throughout the thorax, mild acidic tingle in back of throat... the body is moderately thick and dense, but not so much round or sticky-viscous... absolute dream on the palate - quiet, restrained, deadly easy to knock back in big gulps or bitty sips - an example of the magic of aging

O: this bottle had likely been at this particular store since 2014 - light blanket of dust on it and the other ones in the Ola Dubh range stocked beside it - I really need to put aside a rainy-day fund, enough to eventually (hopefully sooner than later) buy all of those bottles that are still sitting there along with the 2-3 dozen bottles of JW Lees Harvest variety on the neighboring shelf - I've at least gotta do a side-by-side tasting of each OD in the range - long over due... one of those beers that makes you re-evaluate the seemingly generous reviews of other beers you've made

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Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 856 ratings