Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12
Liked This Beer
4.12 w/ 841 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

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Ratings: 841 |  Reviews: 386
Photo of maxk
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle stamped "Bottled July 2011" into a snifter style glass. Consumed lightly chilled.

A: Very dark brown, bordering on black. Light only gets through the beer around the edges. There is a nice looking one finger, mocha colored head with loose, tiny bubbles.

S: Raisin, coffee and a smoky, burnt wood smell. The burnt wood is undoubtedly the whisky casks and is actually very complimentary to the coffee aroma. The raisin-y sweetness serves as a nice backdrop.

T: Very interesting flavors in this one. I get whisky and roasted malt initially. The whisky is a relatively prominent flavor, bringing out smoke and peat with a tiny bit of whisky astringency. It goes very nicely with a bit of the malt sourness which is noticeable. Coffee is very subtle here, along with a bit of sweetness which ties all of the flavors together.

M: Creamy and rich mouthfeel, somewhat like what a good stout or porter should be. Well carbonated, which adds to the creaminess.

Overall, this is a very nice beer. I would drink it in place of a stout at times. Right now as I drink it, I notice it has some of the warming qualities in my chest that I get with whisky. It makes a great brew for enjoying on a cold, winter day.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of ShuliShake
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of bigdaddypolite
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tumbler.

Had a chance to grab some o' this stuff earlier today, so I figured I'd strike while the iron was still relatively hot. It pours a murky black-brown topped by about a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises raisins, mild peat char, light roasted malts, tobacco, light vinyl, black pepper, milk chocolate, and a touch of vanilla. Man, this stuff comes off as all-over-the-place, but in a good way. The taste holds notes of candi sugar, caramel, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, very light peat smoke, clove, figs, and light steak. The body is a limpid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a slightly swampy feel. Overall, a very nice brew, one that shows how cask-aging can really create an artistic beer.

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Photo of goalie33
5/5  rDev +21.4%

Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of UnknownKoger
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought from The Bruery Provisions in Orange, CA. An ale matured in Highland Park barrels? Sounds like a winner to me.

The pour is jet black. I mean there is no light coming through it. The head pours coffee brown, thin, and quickly dies off. The aroma from the pour is definitely interesting. The peaty scent of the whiskey casks actually comes through. Now for the taste...

Very interesting! It has a great smokiness to it. Unlike porters or stouts where you're sometimes hit with roasted grains, here the smokiness is way subtle and must come from the scotch barrel aging.

The real surprise is the mouthfeel and drinkability. Very light bodied. In spite of a thick, black look, it goes down very smooth. This makes it very drinkable.

For me the ultimate test is whether or not I would buy this again, and I definitely would buy this again. Great stuff.


Revisiting this brew on 11/9/11...almost a year later. Bottled in July 2009. Let's see what two years of age does to this. Poured into Bruery Tulip

Appearance is that of motor oil. Jet black. Fairly vigorous pour yields mild carbonation which quickly dies. Foam head settles down to a ring around the glass

Smell is scotchy. Highland Park isn't super peaty, so it's not overwhelming. Still smells pretty boozy. The smell actually kind of reminds me of Parabola

The taste is pretty interesting. The smokiness is still there but it doesn't beat you over the head. Same with the scotch notes. It smells boozier than it tastes which I like.

Drinkability is still quite good. Mouthfeel is still great.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised with how this has aged. It's a fantastic beer that has mellowed and developed quite nicely. I would still buy this (and age it) again. My rating stands

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.39/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330 mL bottle. labeled bottle #26041, July 2009.

appears black, with frothy tan head that fades to thin covering. no lacing.

bold aroma - raisins, booze, burnt sugar, tobacco, oak. most of those flavors show up in the taste as well. base flavor of roasted malts, with the whisky notes apparent but not overpowering. rich & complex. mouthfeel is not overly thick, medium carbonation. fairly smooth.

overall - a well crafted beer, just a bit pricey.

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Photo of Bubba83
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #4165, bottled in August 2010. Poured from a 330ml bottle into snifter at around 50 degrees. The body is a rich dark brown, nearly black. A one finger width head creamy looking light tan head rests on top, and tiny bubbles can be seen supporting it up the sides of the glass. Mellows out into a thin lingering film on top that retains decently for a barrel aged beer and leaves decent lacing. It's very nice to look at.

The aroma is a nice big mixture of prunes, dates, raisins and figs. Also present is a touch of alcohol and tobacco leaf, slight tangy yogurt and hints of vanilla. Some cocoa character in the background as well, but it's not as prevalent as the fruit character.

Taste-wise it's actually quite a bit different than it smells, which is something that differentiates this from many of the beers I've been reviewing lately. That raisiny character is there initially, but then quickly the tobacco leaf character takes off into its own complexities and takes off with some cigar-like qualities. There's an earthy, nutty quality as well as some definite oak and cedar. A bit of roasted barley and leather comes out of the finish and last far after the swallow. Throughout the sip cocoa and vanilla interweave with each other but that's all going on in the background.

Despite the flavor being rich and complex, the mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side from what I would expect. This could just be somewhat a result of it only being an 8% beer, when many of the other barrel aged beers I drink are considerably bigger. Then again, they could have added something to beef up the feel that didn't also add more sugars, like more flaked oats. The carbonation is spot on, it's got just enough zip but not enough to ruin the smoothness of the feel.

Overall I really enjoyed this one. I ate a piece of Babybel Bonbel cheese between sips, which was a nice pairing. I also think this would be a great beer to enjoy while smoking a nice cigar. I think the malt backbone could be beefed up a little more and the feel could be a little chewier. Additionally, there was a bit of alcohol heat present, but it didn't detract too much. Looking forward to drinking the 18.

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Photo of dgilks
3.61/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown with mahogany highlights. Creamy, dense, tan head.

Slightly roasty malt aroma that gives way to light frutiness and plenty of oak. Actually somewhat unexciting.

Wow, this starts to get exciting. Ashy peat smoke and some sweeter malt notes. I've never though of Highland Park being this ashy so that surprises me. The oak is also quite thick on the palate. Interesting.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Nice enough.

I find this beer a little odd. I normally quite like Dark Barrel Aged beers and I'm a big fan of peated malts but something about this fails to come together for me with that barrel character really dominating the beer for me.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours a nice deep deep Mahogany colour with a two fingered head that retains well.

S - Nice aromas of expresso, chocolate, vanilla and smokey malts. Very pronounced.

T - Up front some nice sweet vanilla flavours quickly followed by some nice chocolate flavours. The finish is very woody with slightly burnt malts. The Sweetness of vanilla balances this brew out so very well and makes it a very high quality brew. Absolutely no hint of booze.

M - Medium to full body with low carboantion and oh so smooth.

O - This is a high quality brew and is thoroughly recommended. The balance of this beer is of a very high standard.

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Photo of wcintula
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tasted the whisky before trying the beer, and I did love it, also tasted the 18 year whisky.

I feel a bit spoiled after trying the whiskys and then trying the beer as a feel the whisky flavour is very subtle. I must get ahold of an 18 year Ola Dubh as I enjoyed the 18 yr whisky considerably more as the flavours were more pronounced.

The beer after poured looks a bit like soda, the head falls fast. I've seen gloopier looking beers. Drinks more like a stout than an old ale with nice whisky after notes. Not as intimidating as it can potentially be.

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Photo of angelogarcia3
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Harviestoun's Ola Dubh 12 year reserve that I had was bottled August 2010. The bartender at Casellula Cheese & Wine Bar poured this beer into a pilsner glass with an excellant dark tan two finger head. In the glass it is a very dark mahogany color that allowed only a smidgen of light to pass through. On the nose this beer has aromas of roasted malts, smokiness, and cellared oak. In the mouth it is very syrupy and creamy with smooth flavors of smoked malt with a hint of bitterness. An awesome beer!

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Photo of fostachild
2.95/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

bottle date: feb2010

pours a pitch dark colour, with lots of bubbly dark tan head - decent retention.

smell had coffee, chocolate, milk, malt - was nice.

slight smoky taste. earthy, wood. was okay but not the best drinkability.

overall it was kind of interesting but perhaps not my style as i didn't find it to be overly enjoyable. glad i decided against buying some of the higher special reserves.

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Photo of wnh
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Sept 2007, consumed Sept 2010.
Bottle #14035.

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep, rich chestnut brown, completely opaque, topped with a short-lived fizzy dark tan head. Looks a little thin around the edges, perhaps the effects of age. Has some legs, even at 8% abv.

Big, rich nose. Aromas of fleshy fruit (grapes, figs?) and creamy milk chocolate dominate. The chocolate note has a richness to it not found even in most chocolate-infused beers. Mildly roasty, and a bit earthy, perhaps peaty. Almost cloying.

Unexpectedly roasty and chewy on the palate. Dark chocolate up front with a moderate dose of peat midway. Finishes with a lingering alcohol warmth. Very lightly fruity. Dry finish with a bittersweet chocolate character.

Deep and contemplative, smooth and drinkable. This could go a lot faster than it probably should. Smoky character comes through as the beer warms, a reward for slowing down. Well-rounded; I'm betting three years in the bottle has done good things for this beer. I'm certainly looking forward to the 16 and 30 year versions on deck.

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

Bottling Date: July 2009.

A-Pours dark maogany with 1/2 inch of dense milk chocolate colored head. Leaves rings of lacing down the glass with each sip.

S-Milk chocolate, roasted hazelnuts, whiskey. Very appetizing.

T/M-Again, milk chocolate. The body is almost identical to high quality milk chocolate in terms of texture and density, with a subtle, delicate touch of barrel character. The whisky is unobtrusive, adding only a round vanilla tinged sweetness. Medium bodied and smooth, with almost no carbonation.

O-Good stuff.

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Photo of ADZA
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle number 01990 and it pours dark as night hue with nice carbonation that leaves a two finger creamy head that stays and leaves sporadic clingy lacing here and there,the smell is chocolate,raisins and oak,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy with tastes of tobacco,dark chocolate,cappicino,oak,roasty malts and finished with a milky chocolate bittersweetness and overall a nice drop with oak being subtle in the background and allowing the other tastes to shine through cheers.

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Photo of seanyfo
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

33cl bottled poured into a Grimbergen chalice

Bottle number 03897 Nov 2008

Best before Jan 2012

A- Jet black body with no light penetration. Tan 2 finger head that reduces quickly to a crown but this is persistent. Lacing is average.

S- Light dark fruit sweet malt, peatiness of the whisky casks comes through subtlely too.

T- Delicate sweet malt quality which makes way for the peatiness of the whisky cask. Neither flavours outdo each other. It has a single cream note - not sweet, just a savoury thickness, hard to describe.No suggestion of alcohol hot, very smooth.

M- Low to medium carbonation, perhaps a little chalky in the finish. I think this comes from this single cream consistency quality im getting.

D- Very nice, nice malt quality of a Scottish ale combining with the peatiness of Scotlands national drink (not Irn-Bru). Neither qualities overpowering. A lovely sipper.

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Photo of erosier
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

L: Pours a thick deep black color with a short and thick tan colored head that laces the glass a tiny bit on the way down.
S: Smells of scotch, a fine scotch, dark roasty malts, hints of chocolate, caramel, peat, and some alcohol.
T: Tastes of scotch, roasty malts, some chocolate, caramel, but mainly oak, peat, and scotch.
M: Rich, Thick, Heavy feeling, perfect amount of carbonation, warming.
D: Overall it's a sipping beer and it is a damned good sipping beer, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Brabander
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this was a real treat i got a few months ago from my buddy Zimbo. Thanks tor this bottle Craig!

We had a beertasting yesterday and i wanted to share this bottle with two of my best friends.

Poured this wonderfull beer in a small Westvleteren chalice. Pitchblack and oily. Small head. Hints of roasted malts and some chocolat but most of all the smell of whisky barrels. Taste is dito.

Very balanced strong beer which we liked very much

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Photo of rudzud
3.56/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up on KJ Baarons on a whim. I love scotch and figured this would be interesting. Looks like a love it or hate it beer.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a deep dark brown pour with a beautiful one finger mocha head that fades to leave a thick halo and cloud.

S - Nice dark roasted malts, super slightest chocolate. Nice oak notes and smokey peat. Definately scotch.

T - Yikes. I just cant get past all this smoke. There are some light malt sweetness, maybe even some chocolate, then its a tidal wave of peat and smoke. Some oak notes, but this is mostly a peat/smoke bomb on my tongue. A little bit of salt too...

M - Nice smooth mouthfeel on this one. Very good.

O - I really enjoy this beer. Well, every aspect except the massive overpowering smoke/peat flavours. I'd like to try the other years and see how they stack up. Not impressed with this "scotch".

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a luscious opaque sable with a respectable pale tan head that leaves a little lacing. Strong aroma has an overtone of honey and hints of caramel, wood and malt. Flavor has caramel, malty and woody tones with nutty, woody and honey hints and a touch of yeast. Texture is thick and smooth and just a little tingly, but still pleasing and beer-like.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 87.9% out of 100 with 841 ratings
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