Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

836 Ratings
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 836 |  Reviews: 384
Photo of cowboy83
2.5/5  rDev -39.5%

Photo of fionn13
4.75/5  rDev +15%

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.28/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter. Bottle #25,160 from September 2007.

3.0 A: Black color. Maybe a quarter finger of frothy light brown head that quickly fell and left no lacing. I'll cut it some slack since it's so old.

5.0 S: This may be the strongest smelling and booziest of the series and also the best smelling. Tangy caramel, loads of chocolate, light coffee, vanilla combine to form a creme brulee type aroma. Molasses, a formitable earthiness, and peat and oak from the whiskey and barrel. Supple roast underneath. I wouldn't ask for a much better nose, but if I did, I'd ask for a little more sweetness.

3.0 T: The frailty of the base beer is quite apparent in the taste. Aside from roastiness and some chocolate, the taste is dominated by the whiskey instead of the whiskey playing complement to the base. Most of the flavors found in the nose are still there, but in vastly reduced amounts with chocolate, molasses, and caramel taking the biggest hits. Still a decent amount of vanilla and oak from the barrel and peat from the whiskey. Earthy mineral from the water.

2.0 M: Light to ligher medium body. Whatever the descriptors, it's too thin. A good bit undercarbonated, but not quite flat. Lacking creaminess.

2.5 D: These beers smell great, but then ultimately disappoint. The base for these is weak and the barrel overshadows it by far too much. Only the 18 year to go, then I'm done with this unsatisfying, overpriced series.

 1,438 characters

Photo of eriktoyra
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle bought in 2009. Aged for 3.5 years.

A: Pours a black colored liquid which is more like dark brown around the edges if hold infront of a light. Almost no head. No visible carbonation.

S: Burnt oak wood, tar, leather and smoke. I can also find some salty tones and dark roasted malts. Complex and nice!

T: Starts off with a lot of oak casks, liquorice, burnt peat, some salted and smoked charcuteries. I can also find cacao and some spicy hops. For a 8.0% ABV beer the alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Lightly carbonated. Feels "round" in the mouth. Smooth and elegant.

O: A beer that you definitely should take your time to drink. The smells and tastes are its strengths.

 682 characters

Photo of xdefeatsy
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of beertraveldude
1/5  rDev -75.8%

Photo of jibbyvonjibb
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black opaque with brown edges if put up to a light. Small off-white head.

S: Strong smoked meat smell. Caramel.

T: Sweet toasted malts. Slight tang. Slight balancing bitterness from roasty malts and earthy hops.

M: Medium-heavy body. Pretty viscous. Light carbonation.

O: Nothing spectacular really. Just a fancy label. Couldn't taste much of the barrel flavor because it is overdominated by smoked malts.

 413 characters

Photo of shleepy
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought at Whole Foods in Berkeley, CA. Served from small bottle into snifters.

A: Black, with small-medium off-white head.

S: Burned prunes. I.e., smoky / roasty, carameley, and a bit fruity.

T: Oh, yeah. Definitely like drinking liquified, burned prunes... or so I imagine. There's a fairly high level of bitterness all throughout. None of the usual vanilla flavor from oak... but I think that's where the smokiness is coming from.

M: Body is on the heavy side, but not to the point of the beer being a very slow sipper.

O: Worth a try, perhaps, but not worth buying again, especially at the price point. Actually, I wouldn't buy it again at half the price. Too roasty/smoky and does not have enough complexity to redeem itself.

 734 characters

Photo of heygeebee
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger head, black n tan. Head has coarse bubbles, fades quickly.

Aromas a heady mix of chocolate, roast malts, raisin, in a complex and wonderful mix.

Taste is a smooth blend of all the above. Add in some wood dryness and caramel and toffee hints. Chocolate aromas turn to coffee taste. A little bitterness to balance.

Mouthfeel very full bodied.

Good beer.

 374 characters

Photo of DCgolfpro
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of akorsak
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle, number 12,513 from September 2007.

A: Black oil indeed, a thick viscous stout-like ale, pitch black curiously with no head whatsoever. It's not that the ale isn't carbonated, it just doesn’t visually manifest. After a few minutes, a wispy white band appears.

S: Dark chocolatey stout aromas, coffee in tow. The Highland Park whisky adds a softer, peated aroma - oak barrel with a bit of a kick. The aroma isn't overpowering, just sweet and soothing. Wooden strength finishes the nose off - the barrel comes through nicely.

T: The whisky hasn't left too heavy a hand on the ale, allowing the old ale's stout-like flavors to come through. Chocolate and burnt malts, even more caramel, add to the malt flavor. The wood adds depth but the whisky doesn't have the gravitas of Ola Dubh 30. Instead, a soft boozy sweetness comes from the whisky, a nice pairing against the old ale. Good.

M: Dry on the finish, the barrel doesn't completely take over the ale. The pairing for flavors is nice though, a sweet nightcap.

 1,031 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It has been 4 years since I consumed a Harviestoun product, and I have not set my foot in the Ola Dubh series. Well, let's end that streak. This is bottle number 13710, with a date of September 2007. On to the beer:

It doesn't pour like thick black oil as the name would suggest, but the color certainly looks like it does. Just deep black, and a pretty contrast to the gold lettering of the Double Bastard Ale glass. No head is formed oon top, though a few spots of lace cling. The whisky component is big in this beer's aroma. Just whisky and smoked peat, and then you get some old ale character.

In the taste, the whisky to beer ratio is more balanced than the aroma, resulting in a delicious drink. But make no mistake, the whisky character still makes a great deal of the overall share. Toffee, fruit, chocolate raisins, smoke, tobacco, wood....somebody grab me a cigar! A slight whisky booziness sneaks in towards the tail end. The body is nearly full, with carbonation that is very low, but present.

With little doubt a good introduction to the Old Dubh series. Fans of scotch are sure to love this beer too.

 1,120 characters

Photo of KevinSP
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of shand
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a snifter.

It pours out a deep brown, small head. The aroma is sweet, with the scotch jumping right out at me. Dark fruits and roasted malts are hanging out underneath. The taste is very nice, with the dark fruits and roasted malts of the old ale coming through first, but an excellent whisky taste coming through at the end, with a touch of peat and smoke. Very good. The mouthfeel has a nice amount of carbonation, and the drinkability is actually quite good. A great barrel-aged beer. Recommended for the scotch fan.

 553 characters

Photo of Stocean1
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a one finger rootbeer head upon a deep brown body, not much retention with some patchy lacing - nice bottle

Scent is peaty whiskey, sweet molasses and vanilla

Taste follows the nose with choclate and molasses notes - some dark fruit in there as well - perhaps figs and raisins - what is unique is the sweetness - it seems to dominate even the whiskey - reminds me of dragon stout from jamaica

Mouth is medium with some carbonation - nice amount of bitterness with some obvious sweetness - not overly dry - silky as it swirls in your mouth - the alcohol is noticeable but luckily I enjoy booze

Overall a neat brew that I really enjoyed - was not sure about the sweetness but by the end of the brew I got it

 716 characters

Photo of BCash
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Photo of traumaqueen
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of flyingpig
2.56/5  rDev -38%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A strong, opaque black colour with a thumb sized, brown and foamy head that seems to hold well. It very gradually reduces in size but leaves some good lacing on the glass and eventually settles to a thin & patchy, soapy lacing.

Sweet and with touches of whisky are quite noticeable to begin with along with some peat and a burnt wood finish. There is a strong, roasted malt aroma as well and a lot of alcohol on the nose.

Very whisky like in flavour with a lot of peat and alcohol upfront. It has strong, burnt oak and very, rich dark chocolate flavour with some dark fruits. It had a few different flavours fighting to be noticed but it is the whisky taste that comes across strongest, and far to strongly for my liking sadly.

Medium bodied and with a slightly chewy feel to it. There is a massive alcohol taste and burn at the end and a lingering malt flavour. Carbonation is very low with this beer.

Complex beer but sadly not one that I enjoyed, I felt the whisky aroma was too strong for me to enjoy the beer. I found this beer a huge struggle to finish. The whisky was too strong with this one.

1001 Beers Blog:

 1,158 characters

Photo of szmnnl99
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of beerexplorer1973
3/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of dipso123
3/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of Snowrs
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of rhhjr
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Photo of goblue3509
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown cola like color with little to no light escaping when held to the light. The beer starts with a one and a half finger off white head which recedes immediately and leaves sticky lines on the glass. The aroma is of dark chocolate and then a nice big whiskey barrell aroma. The taste has a dark chocolate and coffee taste up front which gives way to a slight dark fruit sweetness. There is then a slight vanilla flavor before the taste of whiskey takes over and finishes the beer off. The mouthfeel is mildly carbonated and sticky. Overall this is a great beer, it is an easy drink despite the high alcohol. The whiskey barrell is very pronounced in the aroma and flavor.

 687 characters

Photo of mitchellaneous
5/5  rDev +21.1%

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.13 out of 5 based on 836 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.