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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 Sammy
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The best and the most expensive of the trio, all tried in a week. Pours black with small bubbly head. Aroma of whisky, a little bourbon. The taste is rich and complete, how would it be after a few more years?A unique ale with a whiskey character. Above average mouthfeel. Feels more "cooked" or complete than the previous two others.
Had on cask at Cole's and it was the clear winner of the festival. Big whiskey but great, above average mouthfee.

 447 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle # 15,294: This one was my favorite in the series until I got a hold of the 40 year version of this. This beer poured out as a dark black thick looking liquid. The head was thin and brown is color. Not much lacing here. The smell once again was full of whiskey and barrel aged aromas. The taste of the beer was quite good, lots of roasted malts, dark chocolate and scotch on the taste buds. The mouthfeel of the beer was thick and smooth. It coats the mouth pretty well. Overall this beer is a little pricy but I think to have it once it's worth looking into.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of metter98
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short light tan head that quickly died down, leaving a collar consisting of large bubbles around the edge and some delicate lacing on the surface. The entire head eventually completely faded away.
S: Moderate aromas of smoked peat are present in the nose along with hints of dark chocolate. The smell becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Much like the smell, the taste has lots of flavors of peat that linger through the finish. Slight hints of bitter chocolate and toffee peek through in the middle of the taste.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation. The beer really coats your mouth very well. Hints of warming from the whiskey are noticeable.
O: This beer is a lot smokier compared to the Reserve 18 and has an exceptional mouthfeel that has some smoothness and coats your entire mouth.

Note: Bottle No. 00430, June 2013

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A luxurious, asserive Scotch ale that has a rustic, old-world nature along with a finess and sophistication that can't be ignored. Bottle indicates that the beer was bottled nearly a year ago- good amount of age under its belt. The pour brings a solid stout-like color, dark brown and basically opaque. Creamy and rich, the beer brings a 1/2" creamy head formation that retains quite well, leaving nice lacing on the glass. Aromas are quite stout-like as well with medium roasted note with peaty smokiness, grape and anise esters, notes of currants, lactose, nuts, oak, and rich alcohols emit from the glass. Flavors begin to steer away from the roasty stout notes, but begin to favor nutty coffee's, red grapes, plumbs, liquorice, toasted malts, soy sauce, dry woodiness, Scotch whisky, cocoa powder, melanoidin-meaty (similar to dopplebockes) and a mild hit of sorgum. Textures are rich and full, allowing the creamy Wee-Heavy feel to dominate, but also bringing a dry, powdery, woody astringecy to keep the sugars for commanding the drinkability -- a bit schwarabier-like. Finishes with a campfire, scotch-woody, estery blend. In retrospect, the smokey nature may have come from smoked malts-- the flavors are too clean to think they came primarily from the phenolic yeasts. Still, great beer- maybe the best Scotch ale out there. A great beer to pair with a medium bodied, nutty, earthy, pungent, fragrant cigar.

 1,416 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'Tis Burns' Night, and I've nae a wee dram in my cupboard - however - I do have a nice selection of Ola Dubh...best I start with the 'oldest' (read: dearest), methinks...

This beer pours a very dark, dense chocolate brown colour, with cola highlights at the edges, and one finger of creamy mocha head, which settles quickly, leaving little in the way of lace around the glass. Upon jamming my nose into the glass, I'm immediately accosted by that Orkney essence - mild peat smoke, salty fish oil, and iodine - all atop a pretty hefty roasted chocolate caramel malt. The flavour follows suit almost to a tee, but with a tilt towards the chocolate toffee malt, as the barrel characteristics are somewhat consumed, and with an afterthought involving a minor coffee liqueur insurrection. Very little in the way of carbonation, as any resident bubbles were last seen back in the short-lived days of the head. This makes for one smooth tipple, and well, not quite creamy, as the alcohol's astringency tugs at the palate just a tad too much. Last rites are given over to a softening seaside fervour, abutting the persistently loyal Scotch maltiness.

I suppose the 'auld' in this ale comes from the time spent in the Highland casks. And it's a good thing - the nip of the northern islands provide a nice edge to this big malty bastard, which hides its booze like a real miser...

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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 oline73
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of goryshkewych: Poured a deep pitch-black color ale with a medium light brown foamy head with average retention and no lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with distinctive notes of scotch. Taste is a well balance mix between some sweet malt with some notes of scotch with a creamy like texture. The chocolate notes of the regular Old Engine Oil beer are still present. Full creamy body with some good carbonation and no discernable alcohol. I would say that this was good but I would have expected more scotch presence and I am not sure that this is a staple considering the price tag.

 594 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle into snifter; bottle #03946, bottled in 6/2013. Pours fairly pitch black color with a small fairly dense khaki head with decent retention, that reduces to a thin spotty cap of lace that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, oak, raisin, fig, dark bread, light peat smoke, light leather, and roast/oak earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and oak cask notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, vanilla, toast, toffee, dark bread, oak, raisin, fig, peat smoke, leather, and roast/oak earthiness. Slight roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, roast, vanilla, toast, toffee, dark bread, raisin, fig, oak, peat smoke, light leather, and roasted/oak earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of dark/roasted malt and oak cask flavors; with a great oak/malt flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth, fairly creamy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent old ale style. All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and oak cask flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,410 characters

Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of DrBier
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of jlindros
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got to try this thanks to FluffyMcTingle, which he cracked for his own birthday. Thanks for sharing Chris.

A: Dark head disappears quickly with very dark almost but not completely pitch black color.

N: Dark malts, roasted, chocolate, black patent perhaps, sweet, little boozy, some oak and whisky, lots of chocolate, bakers choc and light dark chocolate, light and creamy.

T: Lighter than I expected, with some malts, stout flavors, a little creamy, dark fruits, whisky, woody esthers, a little roast, very light chocolate flavors late on the taste, touch of earthy flavors and hint of bitterness, and even some vanilla.

M: Lighter body with decent carbonation.

F: Some sweetness lingering, more whisky and fruits, wood esthers, a little dank wooden shelf like flavors too, touch of roast and a little syrup and caramel. Later on the finish comes some light peat and smoke, a definite Highland Park scotch flavor.

 918 characters

Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of nickfl
4.69/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - One finger of dark brown head and a totally black, opaque body. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Big, malty aroma. Lots of caramel, toffee, and milk chocolate. The scotch aromas are subtle but distinctly present with notes of musty oak, tobacco, and smoke.

T - Surprisingly thin maltiness up front, sweet toffee and little else. The rich flavors begin to come out after a couple of seconds with sweet coffee/chocolate malt and dark raisin fruitiness. The character darkens as it progresses with wood notes coming out first, followed by light tobacco flavors, and finally rich, smooth smokiness in the long finish, complimented by a lingering malt bitterness and mild alcohol warmth.

M - Surprisingly thin body, moderately low carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - This is a complex, smooth and enjoyable beer. The finish seems to linger on the palate indefinitely and it continues to develop character all the while. I have compared many dark, complex beers to good cigars, but this reminds me more of pipe tobacco; complex, smooth, mild, and deeply satisfying.

 1,086 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours black with the tiniest of mocha heads and a few legs here and there. Nose is really nice and enjoyable with some whisky, strong chocolate, dark fruits, molasses, vanilla, oak, and roast. The taste is nicer than the Special Reserve 40, as there is a bit less of the whisky/booze feel and instead you get down to the oak, chocolate, and vanilla notes. Good feel with a touch of booze, though not quite as warming as the 40, which is strange to say about a beer that really isn't that high in ABV.

 547 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%

Pitch black, no head whatsoever, but very sticky as you tilt and move it around, really looks like "black oil".
Smell isn't too strong from afar, but it's really nice as you stick your nose in there. Roasted salted toffee, dark roasted malts, nice coffee notes, nice whisky with a mild peaty note, lots of woodiness, faint dark grape and dark chocolate.
Whisky up front from the first sip, with a clearer peat note. There's a small alcoholic pinch, but not boozy. Dark fruity zing also helps balancing things in the start, with nice plum, dark grape, juicy fig. Some caramel, toffee, licorice and vanilla right before the malts peak, with a bit of chocolate, but mostly roast and some nice mild coffee. Finishes with a deeper roast (not huge), some wood (a bit smoked), faint cigar and a surprising herbal hoppy bitterness that manages to bring just a bit more.
Almost flat, but not that thick and sticky. Oily, coating all the palate, but really really easy to drink, and this time it's not a problem, considering the low abv (when confronting other whisky barreled beers, that is). Aftertaste retains some whiskey, some coffee bean, faint peat and a bit of plum.
Really great, a nice complex tasting experience that ends too soon. Expected it to be a bit stronger in aroma and flavor, especially after trying the Old Engine Oils, but what it lacks in strength compensates in complexity.

 1,388 characters

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

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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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