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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30
425 Ratings
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Every bottle of this extremely limited Ola Dubh 30th Anniversary Ale has been individually numbered. Our ale has been aged for up to six months in first fill sherry butts, formerly used to mature Highland Park's award-winning 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. These hand selected butts add subtle whisky notes to what is already a complex ale with its chocolatey mouthfeel and distinctive bittersweet finish. The high ABV has been deliberately created to stand up to, and blend with, the intensity of flavor created by the infused wood.

Added by rallison on 02-23-2008

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 425 |  Reviews: 230
Photo of bmf0
1/5  rDev -76.5%

Photo of ptykozoon
2.9/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Lacing, no head. A very dark brown borderline black.

Cocoa, caramel, faint bourbon, oak, molasses, burnt offerings and just an overall sweetness.

Much more subdued than the scents. Bitter chocolate, coffee beans; all sort of watered down and not terrifyingly complex.

Decent mid-range mouthfeel density.

Nothing to write home about. Clearly not worth the price in my book.

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Photo of beerexplorer1973
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of Damian
3/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Drank from a boxed 11.2 FL OZ bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westboro, MA
BOTTLE No. & DATE: 15428/Sept 2007

Poured a rather thin looking brown/black color with a bubbly, one-finger, light tan head that faded to a lasting ring. Small, spotty drops of lacing stuck along the glass.

The aroma was quite unpleasant initially, as the oxidative notes were really overwhelming. The first thing that came to mind was "wet dog." As the beer warmed however, the aroma improved considerably. The nose turned semi-sweet with notes of brown sugar and maple syrup. Whiskey, oak and molasses were apparent as well, along with a hint of smoke. Frankly, I have never seen such a dramatic change in the aroma of a beer.

The flavor profile was thin overall with the oxidative notes once again dominating. Malty and woody up front. Very acrid. Roasted malts and whiskey came through in the center. The finish was hugely acrid, bitter and surprisingly hoppy with the oxidative notes becoming even stronger. Whiskey was also apparent (a touch hotter than expected). The lingering aftertaste was quite oaky and dry.

The mouthfeel was super thin and watery with a fine, yet intense carbonation. Airy and light on the palate.

Drinkability was average. This beer was low on overall flavor yet quite acrid (and bitter). Furthermore, the 8% ABV was rather apparent (I would have guessed it to be around 9-10%).

This beer was a real disappointment overall, especially when considering its $15.95 price tag. Highly overrated in my opinion.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of Texasfan549
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of mhaugo
3.06/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle decanted into a snifter. 8.0% ABV. Served at 55F and allowed to elevate to room temperature.

Appearance: The color of a deep porter. No head, virtually no carbonation. Visually, it lives up to the name “Black Oil” (3.75/5).

Aroma: Sweet whisky, oak, and damp mustiness. Molasses and licorice. Very rich and interesting (4/5).

Taste: Very dry and oaky. Nicely attenuated. Smoky and charred. But fairly one dimensional. It’s like drinking a nice whisky, but after the tumbler has been sitting out for a while and all the ice has melted. Where’s the beer flavor in this beer?

Mouthfeel: Thinner than expected. Flat and heavy on the tongue. A lingering astringency from the wood (2.75/5).

Overall: Well… this was kind of a letdown. For almost $20, I would have expected something that tasted more like beer and less like diluted whisky. Too thin, too woody, too little like beer (3/5).

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Photo of jwinship83
3.11/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle that comes in a box drank out of my samuel adams perfect pint glass. this is my first time trying any of these ola dubh beers. this was a christmas gift from a non BA. bottled in mid 2009.

A- this one pours out of the bottle a completely opaque black colored body with little to speak of as far as a head goes. only a tiny crown. no lacing is left behind.

S- the first thing i can pick up in the nose are dark roasted malts and smoke. pretty stout like. there is also a distinct fine whiskey odor that is pretty strong. the evidence of being in a barrel (vanilla/oak) is harder to pick up.

T- the taste starts out with dark roasted malts and whiskey and quickly opens up to a smoky, peaty, whiskey-like beer. there are some of the typical fruits youd expect from an old ale (raisin, plum, cherry), as well as a little bit of the vanilla/oak from the barrel. a little bit of coffee at the end.

M- the mouthfeel is a little light for something like this. the alcohol shows too much for something of this strength. the carbonation is really low, which i liked.

D- this was a gift, so i didnt have to spend any money on it. at the same time i know that its about $16 a bottle. i dont see myself ever dropping that kind of coin on this. glad to have tried it. its something ive always wondered about. id love to try it on tap or cask.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.12/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at O'Brien's.

Looks deep brown, no head or bubbles except for a razor thin ring. Smells like thick grape juice, slightly peaty and some dry oak. Like a peaty version of Welch's. Taste is mostly raisin and plum, again some smoke/peat, scotch, and leather. Pretty dry overall. Mouthfeel is medium body, flat, but at least no alcohol is noticeable. Overall, not a bad beer but pretty one note, and the flatness really limits the drinkability. I would pass on this if offered again.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.23/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Comes in a fancy black box, the bottle itself has black foil around the cap and neck, a little medallion hanging from underneath the foil. Pours out an intense dense opaque black, quick splash of creamy loose mocha head.

Immediate aroma of sweet raisins, green grapes and apple juice, along with earthy wood and sweet alcohol. Enjoyable except for the apple juice character which stands out and seems out of place.

A far cry from the beauty of the 18 Reserve, the flavour is thinner, milder and far more subtle in comparison. Mild wood and alcohol up front, earthy carob and cocoa builds in the middle, spicy warm alcohol on the finish blending with more cocoa into a long-lingering yet mild aftertaste.

For the price and the final product a bit of a let-down, especially in comparison to the Reserve 18 and 12. Pretty easy drinking considering the strength of it, but still too shy for the style as well. A sad pass on this one, there is better from this brewery to explore and discover.

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Photo of mvdillman
3.25/5  rDev -23.5%

Photo of Jspriest
3.25/5  rDev -23.5%

Photo of kojevergas
3.31/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

"Harviestoun 30th Anniversary Ola Dubh." Limited Edition Special Reserve.

11.2 fl oz brown glass bottle with black foil-ed over branded silver pry-off pressure cap and an accompanying pendant came packaged inside a cardboard box, in a manner akin to good whiskeys. This elaborate presentation helps evoke a classy Scotch-like beer. Let's hope the beer lives up to the packaging...

Bottle No & Date: 07233. June 13.

Served cold into a snifter and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: None. Just a weak floater ring about the edges of the top of the body which recedes within 10 seconds. No lacing.

BODY: Weak dark black. Not an opaque ink or jet black; I can see the logo of my snifter through the top of the beer; this has shocking transparency for its darkness. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a generally appealing whisky barrel aged ale, but it's far from unique or special. We've all seen far better. Average at best.

AROMA: Sherry wine, wine-soaked dampened wood, marshmallow, cranberry, pomegranate, raisin, chocolate, chocolate malts, and of course intricate whiskey with a bit of warm welcoming booze and slight almost gingery spice. Brandy soaked fruit, milk chocolate, a kiss of citrus, and a hint of peat.

The barrel notes melt seamlessly into the base beer, and the sherry is a real stand-out, as is the marshmallow and pomegranate. The barrel character is striking, and far more intricate than what I usually come across.

As it warms, some dark grape emerges, along with impressions of fig and plum. It grows more leathery, and I find hints of dark bread and robust dark malt.

This is an intricate rich aroma suggestive of a delightfully complex and subtly executed ale. I'm deeply interested in trying it. Aromatic intensity is moderate.

No hops, yeast, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Hm. The taste is substantially less intricate and subtle than the aroma, to its detriment and my disappointment. The barrel character is a bit mundane; it's not spicy enough to evoke whiskey, not wine or grape-evocative enough to suggest sherry, and not vanilla-laden enough to satisfy bourbon cravings. Dampened wood dominates, with the faint beginnings of wet cardboard that suggest this beer will be terrible as oxidation grows - and may even be over-aged already. The base beer is uninteresting; I get some sticky thick sugars, marshmallow, chocolate malts, and dark malts - but little else. Light burnt characteristics add more bitterness to an ale which already has severe sweetness/bitterness balance issues.

It's nowhere near as enjoyable as I hoped it'd be, and really disappoints in terms of complexity and subtlety. The pomegranate fruit is a highlight, but even that is relatively weak. It's actually a somewhat shallow depth of flavour. The flavour intensity and duration are both average, if not below average.

I do like it for what it is. But it drinks boozier than 8%, and doesn't bring the whiskey barrel as much as it should.

TEXTURE: Weak, thin, sticky, unrefreshing, smooth, wet, and undercarbonated. Not the creamy silky soft mouthfeel I hoped for. Execution is subpar.It should be chewier.

OVERALL: The taste fails to fulfill the promises of the aroma, and the result is a real letdown of a beer. I hoped for so much more, especially at this price point. I'd caution friends from pulling the trigger on this and frankly I prefer Harviestoun's less expensive offerings. This won't age well and I wouldn't want a second bottle. I'll finish this, of course, but it's not the decadent exquisite brew I thought it might be.

I don't smoke, but I imagine this beer would pair well with a fine cigar, an old armchair, and a good book.

Low B-

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Photo of Reagan1984
3.35/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

With an aggressive pour into my snifter glass I get about a ½ finger of tan foam.. This fades almost immediately. The beer is a dark brown color with lots of light getting through. No lacing in the glass.

Aroma is of oak, peat and of course, scotch.

Well, if you enjoy scotch you'll be pleased with this beer. If you are really in the mood for a beer, you may be looking for your next bottle. Lots of peat and oak. Very dry finish.. Could use a touch of sweetness to round out the flavor.

Dry on your tongue and a touch thin. The slightest carbonation.

It's ok, but the dryness wears on me.

 595 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
3.36/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, mostly black. Head is a nice beige, just bubbles around the surface - at its most dense have a nice crema look to it. Lace is decent at first but doesn't stick around. Not bad at all.

Smells pretty boozey. Dark, yeasty, almost vegemitey aroma with a touch of peppery spice, dark chocolate and burnt toast. But yeah, very yeast-extract kind of organic aroma all over the roasty grain. Not that impressed, to be honest.

Taste is not as boozey as I expected at all; in fact it's quite uneventful. Quite dry, with light notes of caramel, some bisscuity flavour, just grainy and slight vanilla notes. It's really quite drinkable, but primarily because there's not a whole lot going on there. Decent, though, just not very exciting. Largely sweet, but enough to balance.

Very thin and empty on the feel. Definitely lets it down here, because some more presence on the tongue would make up for some of the palate's shortcomings. Amazingly not hot for 8%, but there's just nothing really to it.

Drinkable, fairly unexciting beer. Sessionable as hell for a dark 8% beer though.

 1,097 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
3.38/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A--Pours black with a thin layer of head, although I poured into a 25 oz. snifter so that was definitely a factor

S--Whiskey, chocolate, toffee. This one smells a little hot, kind of burns the nose. I hope the taste is more balanced.

T--The palate definitely is more balanced, the flavor actually is not near as bold as I was expecting. Nice blend of whiskey and toasted malts, not a whole lot else though.

M--Medium bodied, a little too thin maybe for this type of beer

D--This just didn't interest me too much. I'm glad I only bought two because at the $13 price tag I would have been very upset if I had bought more.

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Photo of mtomlins
3.4/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Number and Date: 21830 in September 2007.
Poured: September 2014 (7 years old)
Thanks to tbadiuk for the bottle!!

120 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.41/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque, dark brown body capped by a small, bubbly, tan-hued head.

Smell: Wafts of smoke and spirits with a scent of dark malts and minor notes of old wood and peat contributed from the barrel aging.

Taste: Earthy, smoky chocolate flavor with not more than a hint of malt sweetness. Fire-charred dark fruits. Exceptionally drying wood component with, regrettably, only a thin taste of peaty scotch. Minor return of the dark malts, but they've got to contend with the unceasingly wooden taste. Dash of still mineral water. Finishes dry and somewhat abrupt.

Mouthfeel: As with the bottle of 12-Year I had previous, the beer just doesn't quite reach medium-bodied. Medium-low, soft carbonation. A tad lifeless.

Drinkability: Not unpleasant, but, for me, it comes up a bit short in terms of both body and flavor. The only really stirring part of the Ola Dubh experience is the jarring price tag.

 906 characters

Photo of enelson
3.49/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JamLand
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of EricTheRed
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of markgugs
3.52/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.57/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. Bottle #10696, bottled Sept. 2007. I looked up how much the 30 year costs and the cheapest was just north of $300. And to think I thought this bottle of beer was expensive at $14.99.

3.5 A: Black color. Just over a finger of frothy light brown head. Retention was mediocre and no lacing was left. I gave this an extra half point since it's getting rather old.

4.0 S: The base beer delivers roastiness and a hint of chocolate. Nothing too crazy. The whiskey, however, is enchanting. So well integrated that it smells silky. Coffee, creme, caramel, oak, vanilla - creme brulee basically. Light well tanned leather. Almost flowery with melon, peach, and apple fruits.

3.5 T: Taste is much like the nose. The base beer is just there to facilitate the barrel aging. Roastiness is the main contributor. The reason that this doesn't score as well as the nose is because the whiskey is less intense in the taste. Still, there's some vanilla, oak, and leather, but much less of everything else.

3.0 M: Wimpy light to lighter medium body. Carbonation is good for how old it is. Reasonably creamy for how light it is.

3.5 D: This suffers from the same problem that 50/50 does. The base beer is weak and the barrel aging is forced to carry the product. However, in this case, the bourbon seems to have faded a lot from the taste. Oh well. I'd love to try this fresh.

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Photo of Cavery
3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Small bottle shared with Klym, poured into Stone Nonic.

A: Retro pen ink with a slightly off-white filmy ring head. A speckled constellation of lacing that disappears like stars in the wee hours of the morning. The film really seems to last, at least in terms of maintaining the ring formation. Completely opaque, no light is getting through the black void.

S: Dark fruits with a bit of a barbecue character. Barbecued (or at least seasoned/dry-rubbed) figs and charred medjool dates really come forward. Spices touch on a light offering of nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, and peppercorns. A strong whiskey sweetness penetrates through the subtleties to create a challengingly spicy/boozy finish. Smells like quite a refined offering indeed.

T: Really sweet barrel character with no heat at all. There really is a lack of alcohol that is a bit perplexing. The barrel is totally apparent, and the sweetness well integrated; but alcohol escapes the flavor. Dark barbecue oaky-wood chips without too much smokiness, and sweet charred tomatoes There's just this generic-charred sweet fruits aspect that is notable; but at the same time a bit vague. Specific notes take a backseat to the process of brewing this beer.

M: A really typical barrel beer mouth feel with an ephemeral sizzle. There's a bit of a hole in this beer here, and it's illuminated by the mouth feel. There are a lot of very good to great beers that have this same mouth feel; but where that unbelievable flavor would be exists a bit of a whole. A standard solid mouth that survived the barrel, but also points out the short comings of the flavor.

O: I think the mouth is a very revealing part of this beer. There was an aspect to it that I couldn't quite figure out, until I focused on the mouth. This beer is akin to a block of Swiss cheese; it seems to be the work of an artisan, but there are some holes and gaps. There is a canvas here for great pronounced flavors. However, they never really seem to come. There is a bit of a buildup in the nose and initial taste, but a bit of a weak follow through. Noticeably, there is a gap in the middle. Coincidentally, this reminds me a great deal of British food. While I love peas and potatoes; I could never stomach those vinegary mashed peas they serve with their deliciously rustic potatoes. It somehow leaves the overall feel of this beer to be incomplete.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.25 out of 5 with 425 ratings
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