Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
United Kingdom (Scotland)

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

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Reviews: 371 | Ratings: 811
Reviews by OSUBeerStudent:
Photo of OSUBeerStudent
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date August 2010, into a snifter.

A - opaque brown/black. Starts with a fairly thick tan head, which slowly dissipates to a decent-sized ring and a patch of foam in the middle. Inviting.

S - lots of molasses and dark fruit. Smokiness from the whisky blends really well with the beer notes. The aroma is still very clean, however. It actually lacks some of the strength I expect in a beer like this, which is my big complaint.

T - starts with heavy molasses and dark fruit, but not syrupy sweet at all. The peat and whisky is definitely present and binds it all together at the end. The peat adds a bit of an acrid note to the sweeter malts. Tastes like it would be quite good without the whisky aging, but the barrels add some depth for sure. Quite tasty.

M - Very nice. Reasonably carbonated and on the thinner side for the style, makes it easier to drink than a lot of the bigger examples that are definite sippers.

Overall this is a very nice old ale. The sweeter molasses and fruit is nicely balanced by the whisky barrel. It has a nice complexity from this. The barrel would be interesting if it was integrated a little more with the rest of the beer, but it's very good as-is, regardless. Good beer and worth a try, even at the very high price ($9.19 for 11.2 oz for me).

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More User Reviews:
Photo of stakem
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently decided I have been holding on to this 2007 bottling for too long. Drank along side a bottle of Ola Dubh 30 from the same time period. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip. It appears black in color with a tan finger that fades to a thin ring. Some spotty lace sticks to the glass.

The nose is pete smoked with slight soy-like oxidation. Roasted and smoked chocolate blend into an overall feeling of camp fire. A very mild indication of anise and tangy raison blend out the back.

Flavors of chocolate and roast with earthen appeal and fruity raison. The smoke is mild with earthiness and coffee-like bitterness. Mild alcohol warnth in finish along with a sensation of savory umami.

This is medium in body and lightly carbonated. Nice flavor, not too smokey and displays minimal oxidation that doesnt show its age for being 8 years in the bottle. In comparison to the 30 year, this 12 had deeper layers of complexity but was showing oxidation much more than it's counterpart.

 982 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 03059/Sept 2007. Ola Dubh is Scottish for Black Oil... and that is pretty much what this brew looks like. No highlights are seen along the edges of the snifter. A barely audible escape of CO2 on crown cracking was followed by a slim slice of caramel colored foam that looks pretty good. Barrel-aged beer is rarely a head and lace stunner.

The unmistakable (and wonderful) scent of Scotch whisky is easily appreciated with a single sniff. Too bad it isn't bolder, but that would probably put off those who aren't in love with the peaty, seaweed-like tang of the world's finest spirit. The base beer could be more aggresive as well, and might get there as room temperature approaches.

Old Engine Oil is lovely stuff, so why wouldn't that beer combined with Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky be wonderful too? Answer: no reason at all because it is. It bears repeating, if you don't like Scotch, then you won't like this beer, because it's a prominent member of the flavor profile.

A relative shortage of malt for the ABV is typical of English ales, so I'm used to it by now. The brewers still managed to wring a ton of flavor out of this (obviously cellerable) old ale. Specifics include dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, black licorice, raisin paste and a few peat fire's worth of tangy smokiness. Warming succeeds in turning the intensity knob up another half turn. Don't worry about sweetness because it's at a low ebb.

My love for viscous beer will only let me cut the mouthfeel so much slack. It's too thin and doesn't have even a hint of the creamy, silky, chewy, sticky oiliness that it ought to have. Age might have taken an excessively large bite out of the body. Carbonation is on the subdued side, even for someone who likes them calm, cool and collected.

Whatever Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 12 Reserve cost, it was worth it. Unfortunately, a measly 330 ml is nothing but a tantalizing treat. Then again, I still have Special 18 Reserve and Special 30 Reserve to look forward to. Mmm mmm good!

 2,037 characters

Photo of beerhunter13
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of DanGeo
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter.

LOOK: (5.0 / 5) Pours a very, very deep mahogany brown. Because of the dark color and its opaquity, it looks jet-black unless held to the light on a shallow angle. A dark-tan, rocky head rises to about about two or three fingers; it falls slowly, leaving great lacing and eventually reduces to whisps of foam. The head is extra-impressive given the higher alcohol content and the aging.

SMELL: (5.0 / 5) A rich and complex malt character dominates. Among the many specific notes present, among the most dominant are: caramel, black-strap molasses, coffee, chocolate melanoidins, some roasted barley, smoke/oak, and very light vanilla. The nose is reminiscent Baltic Porter, but much gentler and better blended. Yeast and hops are not on the scene.

FLAVOUR: (4.5 / 5) the flavor is much more dominated by the dark malts (coffee, chocolate, roasted barley, etc) and the smoke/oak, though the other notes are still there as well but fall more into the background. This dominance makes the flavor a little less complex than the nose. Smoother, rounder, and much more complex than your average Baltic Porter or Imperial Stout.

FEEL: (4.5/5) For a beer with such a bold and smooth flavor, the body is a little lighter than I would have expected. That being said, it was still medium-full on body. Some alcoholic warmth, but it was not particularly hot. Lighter carbonation gives a somethat velvety feel very much like a cask ale - this all acts to very nicely work with the smooth and rich flavor.

DRINK: (4.0 / 5) Obviously - being a beer with a rich and strong flavour and a full body - drinkability is low in terms of sessioning. However, it was a great sipping beer. Something to really enjoy slowly.

I'd probably pair this with some super dark-chocolate desserts. Maybe some dark chocolate with ancho chilli or other spices would be good... but to be honest, it really deserves to be enjoyed on its own.

 1,929 characters

Photo of StoutHearted
4.52/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Incredible flavor! I was a little disappointed in a lackluster aroma, but wow - the taste pops. Smoky chocolate dominates, with a hint of spiciness, like a pepper. Full mouthfeel with a silkiness that eases down the throat. I imagine this going dynamite with a plate of ribs.

Other stats: Color, an inky black; Aroma, meh - as I earlier said. Nothing jumped out. How does this brew hide its flavor?

 399 characters

Photo of Tiernan
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of dolivaw
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of tbryan5
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of SanFranJake
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of ajkiser12
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of -DF-
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle 07805. Pours into my glass a dark black hue with some brown edges and a half inch of tan head that falls to bubbles atop the brew. Aromas start out with roasted, slightly burnt dark malts and a nice sturdy chocolate aroma. Interwoven there are wood, smoke, peat and whiskey notes that flow in and out. A very unique and enjoyable aroma.

First sip brings a roasted, smokey dark malt upfront that leads way to chocolate and coffee accents. A salty twang moves in as wood and earthy peat intermingle across the palate. The smokey single malt hits fairly strong on the finish along with a sort of oily mouthfeel. Nice bitterness and a touch of vinous fruit in the aftertaste. Complex, tasty brew.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a subtle creaminess and mellow carbonation. I thought this would be heavier, but I am happily surprised as the body makes it more drinkable. Overall, this is the first of the three I have tried, still having to sample the 16 and 30, however so far I am glad I purchased this one. The single malt really adds a new element to this enjoyable, sipping brew. Worth seeking out in my opinion.

 1,121 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In a pint glass this beer was jet black in color with virtually no head. A smoky, roasted malt aroma, with whiskey, and a faint sweet aroma. Complex taste. Dark fruit, coffee, whiskey, and a little bit of hops late. Vary tasty. This was a smooth, balanced beer, which I will have again.

 286 characters

Photo of warnerry
3.94/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of DWolf
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%

Photo of R_Kole
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of alienlifeforcecube
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of 1Adam12
2.25/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a blackish brown. No head, no lacing. Smells of malt, soysauce, whiskey, and thats about it. Taste really is not that great. Soy sauce, whiskey, none of the old ale flavors that I'm used to. Mouthfeel is very thin. Overall, man, this was a major let down. I had high expectations for this, and now I wish I could get my money back. Very underwhelming, and just not very good flavors. Too much soy sauce, and little of anything else good. Once was one to many.

 465 characters

Photo of Marius
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of magictrokini
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle from the Pizza Port Bottle Shop. Pours black with a ring of tan bubbles. Peaty, roasty aroma with oak, chocolate, and smoke. Exceptionally smooth taste. Nice roasted malt and baker's chocolate flavors. The peat and smoke compliment the beer nicely without overrunning the taste. Hints of oak, vanilla, and caramel come out as it warms. Worth every penny.

 361 characters

Photo of ImFlyerThanYou
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of kingcrowing
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a weiß glass. Bottled in 2007.

Pours oily black with a very small dark brown head. Nose is whisky and booze it's rich and sweet and malty.

taste is really sweet, smokey and very rich. It's got a lot of whisky flavor to it which is nice. It's really creamy and drinkable.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.13 out of 5 based on 811 ratings.
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