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.
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

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Reviews: 379 | Ratings: 828
Photo of johnnnniee
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

$8 for 11.2oz bottle
Bottled Sept 2007 Sampled Nov 2008

A vigorous pour barely coaxes a head out of this solid black beer. Heavy aroma of vanilla some roasted malts, chocolate and some scotch. I love the aroma its very enticing. Taste is chocolate and roasted malts, faint scotch and ash. Lingering roasted malt bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth. Body is medium Carbonation is adequate. Great smelling and tasting brew. I would have liked the body a bit thicker, but great just the same. Subtle, not over whiskey'd.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid at least $10 for this 11.2 oz bottle from City Beer Store in San Francisco, CA. Poured into a snifter.
As noted on bottle:
Bottle No. 08759
Date: Sept 2007

I am tasting this Nov 2008.

Poured as aggressive as possible, leaving a half inch dark tan head. Black in color. Good thin lacing. Almost no head retention.

Smells of dark, smokey and roasted malts. Some dark chocolate and deep red cherries. A quality, well balanced brew.

A good flavor to this brew. Rather medicinal. The smokiness comes out even more in the taste. Leaves a woodsy aftertaste courtesy of the whiskey casks it was aged in. Well balanced, quality ingredients.

Very easy to drink. The mouth is very pleasant. A very mild creaminess and thickness. Fully body. Almost no carbonation.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle picked up sometime in the last two weeks at the Coop... I paid somewhere in the $7 neighborhood.

poured into my chimay goblet... 1" head from a fairly aggressive pour... tan bubbly cap.. lite lace.. but it is there.. the brew is black.

plummy and some cherry.. but mainly smokey scotch and dark malt.. raisin and fig if I concentrate.

Flavor isn't as boozy as the nose lets on... earthy and smokey.. sorta beef jerky.. salty.. roasty and oaky.... body is lighter than expected.. so is the carbonation.. reminds me of a cigar..

sorry.. I know this is complex.. but I just am having a hard time enjoying it.


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Photo of thirtysixbelow
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Barack Obama is president! Good enough occasion for this baby.

a - almost completely opaque. A very thin creamy dark tan like head. It almost looks like a cup of hot chocolate on top.

s - smokey, nutty, caramel, sweet, and chocolate

t - Sweet, smokey, chocolate, nutty, and caramel all come to mind right up front. A definite wood character that really makes this one special. The alcohol comes through with some charred notes which leads to a bitter dry finish.

m - very full and smooth

d - This is a fantastic brew with a few things I havn't found in any other beer. Mostly the charred and wood flavors. The bitterness was a little high for my liking, but nothing too catastrophic. I have to take off a few points somewhere and this seems like the spot. There are other beers that give a solid experience for much much less money. This beer is very good yet I don't find myself coming back due to price. If it was the best beer I have ever had I might enjoy it on special occasions but it just didn't quite make the mark. Definitely worth the try, but If I come back it will be for the 16 or 30 :)

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

drank this with all three reserves side-by-side, the 12, 16, and 30.

Bottle 20110/Sept 2007

A - pours a motor oil, RIS-esque black, with a thick caramel colored head, that fades into a retentive ring (Same on all three)

S - more non-alcohol related sweet notes in this one than the other two, dark chocolates, caramel, toffee, and some slight whiskey notes

T - very bitter chocolate taste, like the darkest of dark chocolates, some woody resiny notes, not as sweet as the aroma hinted, some distinct coffee beaniness

M&D - thinner than its friends, but far more bitter than expected, almost to an unenjoyable extent, definitely my least favorite of the three

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Photo of midaszero
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number 28488 September 2007

A - Opaque black with one finger of tan head and good lacing

S - Chocolate coffee and molasses

T - Smooth and creamy taste with smokey highlights and vanilla, tobacco mixed in. Sweet after taste. Hides the alcohol well.

M - Medium body with light medium carbonation

D - Very enjoyable and easy to drink. If it wasn't so expensive I would get it more often

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: snifter. pours an abyss-like black. nice dark tan head. decent retention rate and mild lacing.

S: some sourness in the nose. tons of roasted malts, coffee, toffee, and some cocoa. some fruit hints, berries mostly.

T: a lot of dark berries, some peat flavors. dark roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and some toffee. some whiskey qualities.

M: medium to heavy bodied. low carbonation level. very mellow.

D: very smooth ans enjoyable. solid wood aged beer. well worth getting the first of this series. it was aged a year in the cellar as well.

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Photo of ccrida
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

33cl bottle (#27221/Sept 2007) poured into my Deschutes snifter, Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 is an pitch black with a light brown head that settles to a thick collar and leaves decent lace.

Smell campfire, vanilla, chocolate, cured fruits. Good, and more complex then the taste.

Taste is also rather smokey, a bit charred to the point of dominating the rest without being overwhelmed. Some chocolate, a hint of waxy phenols, the alcohol is most noticeable on the sides of the tongue, prickly and dry. Otherwise, just some dark malty notes and a little lactose like sweetness, with the oak and scotch coming through on the aftertaste, more so as it warms from cellar temp of about 55F. I was expecting more depth, and although it's good, I don't feel it's worth the price of admission, when I could get a whole bomber of Alaskan Smoked Porter for about the same price ($6.99 IIRC).

Mouthfeel is oily but not as thick as it looks, it actually has a lighter body for the size, and is rather smooth, drier.

Drinkability is ok, a tasty beer, but for the price and rarity, it's pretty much one an done. Still, a good one.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black with minimal head.

Scent of cocoa, peat, some malts, and oak.

Taste is smokey and somewhat sweet with more peat and some bittersweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel is clean and smooth.

I love a good scotch and a good beer, so this one was a nice treat for me.

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Photo of AMo
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 12 Reserve pours a medium dense opaque black. There is an intial brown fizz of a head that quickly dissipates to a black glossy top. First smell is moderately strong with a malt whiskey like aroma. I find the smell very pleasant for a malty dense like brew and it boldens throughout the drink. Taste is mellow with a flavor range of coffee, bitter chocolate, and a slight harsh whisky note. Mouthfeel has little carbonation and is moderatly dense. A slight sticky residue resides with some lingering whisky character. Overall this was a good black brew. There was a lot of good flavor in there but it just didn't come out strong enough to make it great.

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Photo of requiem960
1.06/5  rDev -74.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

It's not often that I find a beer I find to be undrinkable, but the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery managed to be one of those beers.

My bottle was received at my beer store on 3.12.2008 and is from the Sept '07 batch. It poured dark, pretty much pitch black, with no head. The appearance looked like coffee with very limited carbonation and had a smell that was bland.

Ola Dubh's taste had no whisky notes, which came as a shock and a disappointment; yet the beer reminded me more of a very bland chocolate bock-type beer. Imagine a horrible, less carbonated and watered down version of the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, and you'd be getting near the resemblance of Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12.

This beer had zero drinkability, and half of a $9.49 beer went down my drain. There was no redeeming factors to this beer and I'd highly advise steering clear of it. It's not often I find a beer I can't finish, but here it is!

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Photo of SilentSabre
4.54/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$7,99 for an 11,2oz bottle at Arbor Place Beverage in Douglasville, Ga.
Poured absolutely black with no head. When held to a lamp, no light passes through, not even the edges. Smell is spectacular. Molasses, caramel, muted coffee, brown sugar, very faint smoke and whisky, as the label states it's aged in old whisky casks. Flavour echoes much of the same. Dark roasted robust malts, a very faint tobacco profile, a bit of smoke, some charred wood, and again, whisky, are all detectable. Mouthfeel is certainly full and solid, but honestly, I'd have liked to see it a little heavier. Given the style and the fact that you're going to sip this one, I'd say it's highly drinkable. This on a cold Winter night, a fire, your favourite blanket in the house, and a good book would be a winning combination, for sure! Hands down, the most complex, wonderfully crafted beer I have had in a very long time. Period.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #05654. bottled Sept. 2007, sampled August 27, 2008 in memory of John Schnieder. Aged in Highlands 12 year old single malt whiskey barrels.

A: A viscose pour yielded a dark, near engine oil coloring with a bare surface. Dark ruby highlights line the rim of the glass.

S: The nose had a beautiful roasted barley, dark ripe fruit (prunes), fresh black coffee with hints of dried cherries. A light fresh tobacco leaf and earthy roasted bitterness round out the aroma.

T: silky smooth roasted barley, with some charred oaky woodiness. A smooth campfire minearlity and whiskey tones are detected as well. On the fade was a wet charred woodiness, black coffee and burnt bacon. An earthy/soil bitterness with dark ripe prunes also highlight an already great flavor with hints of sugary creamer sweetness laced throughout. The whiskey flavor contributed by the barrel really comes through nicely here combining beautifully with the dark rich roasted nature of the malting.

M: light, extremely silky smooth with a very nice feeling on the tongue with a soft carbonation.

D: Drinkability was incredibly smooth, silky with a well balanced roasted flavor making for a great slow sipper filled with an earthy bitterness and campfire minearlity.

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Photo of champ103
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a pitch black color. A small tan head forms, but recedes to a ring. Light lace is left behind.
S: Like all Ola Dubh beers, this has a huge malty aroma. Coffee and chocolate dominate. Light peat aroma. Not as much of a whiskey character as I was expecting, and seems a bit reserved compared to the others. None the less, extremely enjoyable.
T: Coffee and chocolate again. A very light peat flavor. A chocolate bitterness that is more pronounced than in the other versions.
M/D: A full body that is very creamy. Smooth and easy to drink. Deceptively easy to drink.

Like everything else in this series, a world class beer. Tracking down all the Old Engine and Ola Dubh beers have been a treat. It is almost impossible for me to choose a favorite. This has the lowest score of the series for me, but that is relative to the rest of the amazing beers. It is like choosing between The White Album and Abby Road. All are masterpieces.

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Photo of russpowell
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review based on notes

Pours black as night with a smidge of brown head. Nice viscous look, a bit of head retention & lacing

S: brown sugar, a whiff of smoke & some oakyness

T: Smokeyness, chocolate, vanilla, & oakyness up front. Smokeyness, charred oak & caramel as this warms along with raisins, plums, & dates. Finishes dry, fruitty, almost tastes like raisinettes with a bit of smoke. Almost pulled a 5.0

MF: Rich, chewy & oily

Drinks fairly easy for the style & ABV

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as black as other dark beers. Btthis dos havea heavy blck colo with brown and garnet highlighs. Only a flash in the pan head and a few spots of lacing with each sip. The aroma is a nutty coffee and smoked peet aroma. Maybe a little heavy cream too. The peet, wood, and mi of toasted an roasted malts spash the tastebuds first. The smoke and whskey grains start to some trough in the middle. With a very creamy coffee and oakey finish. The palate is smooth and warm. This beer was made for the snifter an constant swirling. The combo of whiskey, oak, and old ale are a very unique combination. The first of the three Ola Dubh beer. I wonder what the other two wll taste like in comparison.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick black color with some dark brown hues around the edges when held to light. About a finger of tan head. Aroma is of roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and a bit of smokey scotch.

Taste is very roasted like espresso, along with some smokey peat, a bit of oak, bitter chocolate, licorice, finish is dry with a touch of cinnamon powder. Mouthfeel is a little thin, though as it warms it becomes more full. Pretty good beer though, Im not sure its worth the price tag.

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Photo of Duffman
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours just like its namesake, black oil, with a thin coffee-colored head that quickly fades. Smells like a syrupy sweet. Some peat and heather honey notes from the highland park casks are present. Some caramel, coffee, and oak tones too. Focused and sharp. You can taste the highland park, which is is fine harmony with the natural flavors of the stout. Cream oaky honeyed palate. Some nuttiness and very mild smoky notes. Body is oily and grips the mouth seductively. A protracted and clean finish. A splendid collaboration with the highland park distillery oin the part of harviestoun. Though I've had the HP 12 year old before and can locate some of those falvors in this beer I wish I had some know to match them up.

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

An Old Ale they say, we thought it was an Imperial Stout because it was so dark and molasses.
Dark with some red hues, very shy lace, no head at all, not much to say "hey I'm here!"

Smell is deep roasted coffee, notes of alcohol with some shy maltiness.
Taste is with some acid tannic with some kind of cold coffee flavour, some saltiness with shy milky notes.

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Photo of doubleipa
3.84/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearaance: on einch, frothy, light brown head. Black. Aroma: burnt, peat, charcoal, licorice, cola, and cask wood. Heavy bitter finish and very dry finish. Nothing like I've ever had before. Can really taste the charcoal from the cask. Couldn't drink more than one of these. Would go great with a Maduro wrapped cigar.

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Photo of JamesS
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a great pitch black in color with a great tan (if bit small) head, and just a little bit of lacing. It has a wonderful scent, part coffee, part whiskey, part malt, part hop, a near perfectly balanced scent that ends with a sweet note. Wonderful taste, the whiskey flavor is there, but not overly dominant like so many other such beers; it has a great slight coffee start with a wonderful dark, malty, old ale flavor, a nice sweet finish with a bit of hoppiness to tone it down. It goes down wonderfully smooth for such a bold beer. Absolutely freaking fantastic.

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Photo of JMBSH
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle says that it was bottled September 2007 and is bottle #5613.
Pours very dark. Looks black but is really a very dark amber/ruby color. I can't see or detect any carbonation. Almost no head from a fairly hard pour. Smells lightly of whisky.
A very good flavor. Notes of molasses and dark chocolate are detected. Coats the tongue and mouth very nicely. The whisky flavor is not overpowering, it just adds a nice addition to the beer. There is a hint of the "heat" that you might find in whisky but this beer is only 8% ABV. Very good beer. Recommended.

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Photo of grub
3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lupe hooked me up with this one as part of the 80s BIF. thanks jason!

11.2oz bottle topped with black foil. bottle #05064, bottled sept 2007. sampled beside the other two ola dub beers july 19/08.

pours dark brown, nearly black, thick and viscous. the only sign of a head is a few big brown bubbles around the edges and a few spots of lace on the way down the glass.

aroma is good. nice whiskey and vanilla character. bit of caramel. bread. lots of biscuit.

taste is nice. light alcohol. vanilla. bit of oxidation. bread. light roast. dark chocolate. medium bitterness level. touch of caramel. bit of a letdown after the aroma.

mouthfeel is ok. a touch on the thin side. low carbonation level.

drinkability is pretty good. nicely balanced, just not that exciting overall. my least favourite of the three.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

so, I go from the 30 to the 12 leaving the 16 to end the series. No reason other than whim.

A - rich dark brown, black color with a nice dark tan head.
S - smokey, smoked wood, peat, sweet malts, vinous aspect
T - very strong woody peaty smokey oaky (is that enough words ending in Y for one taste sentence?) notes with underlying dark sweet malt body.
M - medium bodied, smoothly carbonated, smooth finish
D - the smokey whiskey aspects say sip and savor as it hides the 8% well. To do so however would be to miss the point on this brew.

much more character than the 30 but not as smooth or as subtle.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.12 out of 5 based on 828 ratings.
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