Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12
855 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: 855 |  Reviews: 391
Photo of dgilks
3.61/5  rDev -12.2%
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 +7.1%
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 +0.2%
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 +7.8%
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 -28.2%
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 -0.2%
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 -2.7%
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 -1.9%
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 +9.5%
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 +16.8%
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 +8.8%
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 -13.4%
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 +10.7%
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 +2.4%
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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Photo of atr2605
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pors a rich black color with a fingerwidth head that has pretty short retention.
S-Coffee, sweet malt, smokey oak from the barrels, subtle chocolate in the background.
T-rich chocolate that leads into the coffee that was in the aroma, a nice soft oak flavor in the finish. Everything that is in the aroma pulls through delicately yet rich in the flavor.
M-full bodied
O-Excellent beer. So complex and flavorful while not overwhelming the pallet. Each flavor leads into the next and is very enjoyable to drink. My only complaint is the price, but it's worth it.

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Photo of loren01
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an oily looking black color, no head.
S: Smell is sweet and malty. Also smells smokey
T: Nice sweetness at first with lingering smokey flavor. Hints of wood in there as well
M: Thick oily mouthfeel, medium to full bodied beer
O: This is a great beer, very tasty. Full thick sipping beer. Glad I picked this one up.

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Photo of abraxel
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottled Sept. 2007, opened July 2011.

A - Super dark ebony, not a glimmer of color or light shining through. The head is surprisingly long-lasting, considering the size of the bubbles.

S - Dark fruit and oak, rather tasty. Alcohol is evident, but not overpowering. In all, I'm a fan.

T - Lots of smoke, oak, caramel, and burnt sugar. The smoke is prevalent throughout, from when it first hit my tongue to the lingering aftertaste. The smoke is nice, but almost overpowers some of the other flavors.

M - Smooth, with barely a hint of alcohol, but quite a thin body.

Overall, tasty. Somewhat different from other old ales I've had, but still quite good.

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Photo of Kinsman
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As the name suggests, this one pours with an absolutely pitch black motor oil color and is capped by a dense mocha colored foam which leaves a thick lace around the glass as it slowly fades.

Notable woody sweetness with hints of smokey peat but the scotch note is not a prominent as I thought it would be. Sweet and roasty malt notes also come across with hints of coffee and toffee.

Strong malt backbone stands up with flavors of roasted coffee and some bittersweet chocolate and molasses which are paired with a heavy dose of scotch flavors. Vanilla and oak notes start things off before the distinct peat and slightly smokey flavors come along as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is robust with a velvety smooth texture but feels just a tad bit too hot at this relatively young age (this bottle is about 6mos old). Overall, I'm thoroughly enjoying this beer and look forward to trying the 16 and 18 yera versions.

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Photo of Klym
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown that seeps into black just off the shore of the glass. A tan foam with a decent head and curtain lacing. I was a little worried about the weakness of the head given the 8%, but the lacing was perfect.

S: Spicy bourbon (I know it's whisky barrels but honestly what I get in the nose) hanging over the smell of a simmering pan loaded with cocoa and vanilla beans. A wafting sweetness helps lift and enhance the smells.

T: Savory spices are upfront followed by high quality cocoa with the creamy sweetness of a warmed, sugar and condensed milk solution. The kick to this beer is the heavier hit of the whisky-esque alcohol, which with all of the great flavors going on comes across as a bit of a coffee bite. Tastes go together very well, this is such a quality blend.

M: This spreads in the mouth well and goes down easily. Thinner, but soothing to the throat and carbonation dances on the tongue but dies off. The carbonation, I think, fights some of the creaminess of the flavors, which adds some drag to the overall experience.

O: This one caused me to shake my head in disappointment-- not at the beer, of course, but at the lack of recognition for the quality beers that are being released or have already been around from places outside of North America. A beer like this is such a pleasure to drink and gives such a multi-faceted, dynamic, delicious beer drinking experience that stands up easily to the likes of things like BCBS but on north american forums you'll almost never hear a peep about it. If you have access to this and you're wondering what a top-notch beer tastes like, grab it. This one almost certainly won't disappoint. That being said, for those who have had some of the generic greats of north american barrel aged stouts, this beer will take you to a less familiar place by playing with things like whisky in successful fashion.

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Photo of RedSpecial1
4.97/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a thick, dark black out of the bottle with only a little tan head.

S: Malty sweetness backed by Scotch smokiness. A hint of yeast almost seems to be present as well.

T: Immediate sweet and smokey flavors followed by a long, pleasant smokiness that lingers all the way in the back of your throat.

M: The mouthfeel is surprisingly light and thin for all the flavor packed into this beer. This definitely is a plus since it makes the beer much easier to drink, and enjoy.

O: This is an excellent, and complex ale. Its smokey character is reminiscent of a rauchbier, but this is balanced against the sweet maltiness characteristic of scotch ales.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.89/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours deep dark and evil looking. Big dark tan head that drops slowly to a film.
Smell is amazing. Malty, rich and full of dark fruits.
OMG this is good. Rich, malty, dark fruits, hints of wood.
Full-bodied, rich. Low effervescence and decadent. An absolutely wonderful brew. Can I have another please?

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Photo of WeedKing4
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with a decent amount of carbonation into a brandy snifter. Smells nice and roasty as well. Tastes of chocolate notes with a nice roasty, smokey finish. This is definately a porter, and not an old ale. Mouthfeel is beautiful. One of the easiest drinking 8% beers I have ever had. Wish I had easier access to this beer. 16 year is up next.

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Photo of paulozanello
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful presentation on this bottle from july of 2009.

It pours a very dark brown, almost black opaque color. Subtle amber notes around the foam cap when looked against the light. Head lasts for about one minute and has chocolaty-brown color. Retention and lacing are nothing to write home about but given the style I'm happy with them.

Aroma begins on a very powerful bitter chocolate/cocoa note followed by roasted malts and some dark fruits. It finishes with wooden, vanilla and whisky tones intermingled with some alcohol.

Taste starts out with wonderful sweet malty flavors like roasted grain, mollasses, caramel and chocolate. Very complex and filling. The wood and whisky notes then appear lasting to the very end of the sip. Some residual sweetness as well as some tart coffee/roasty notes show up again in the aftertaste complementing the whisky boozines. A nice vanilla taste hovers over everything if you look for it.

Carbonation is moderate to high, I feel it could be a little smoother. Body is heavy but not nearly as heavy as some imperial stouts aged in similar barrels. Alcohol is very well-hidden behind the roastiness of the grain bill and wooden notes.

Amazingly complex beer. I guess you can't really go wrong when you age a huge malt bomb on a oak barrel taken from one of the best Scotch Single Malt Distilleries in the world.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nov 2008 Bottling

Poured into a tulip glass. Pure blackness with almost no head save the lace on the edge. Still, impressive blackness.

The nose is all dark molasses with some alcohol and malt.

The tongue has biscuit, molasses, wood smoke and a little alcohol. While it seems simple, the combination and balance are incredible.

Thin and crisp body and low carbonation. Seems strange for this type of beer.

Overall, very easy to drink. I was expecting more body for a cask aged beer, but I enjoyed it more this way. Not as bold as other cask aged beers, also not as obnoxious.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle #28538
Pours jet black with a light brown head.In the aroma, roasty malts and just a hint of whiskey. In the taste, roasted malts, earth and chocolate notes and a faint whiskey taste lingering underneath it all. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry chocolate and mellow whiskey aftertaste. Not as whiskey barreled as thought, nice chocolate presence and mellow for a bigger beer.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 855 ratings