Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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424 Ratings
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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom
harviestoun.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
424
Reviews:
230
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
10.12%
 
 
Wants:
101
Gots:
94
For Trade:
7
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 424 |  Reviews: 230
Photo of sweemzander
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Sept. 2007 vintage. Bottle #2054.

(A)- Pours a fairly thick pitch black. Produced a really nice cap of brown foam. Solid retention. Some lace.

(S)- A mellow peated smokiness. Bits of toasted caramel, raisin, licorice, molasses, and brown sugar. A nice mellow dry damp oak finish.

(T)- Pretty much just like the smell in every way. The peaty smoke character is a bit more prevalent, though some nice cocoa pokes through that was not there in the smell.

(M)- A nice smooth/mellow carbonation level. A really great balance too of oaky peat smoke, roasty malts, and a very smooth and mellow whiskey character.

(D)- Yet again, these keep getting better and better as I try each one of these, and this one takes the cake. Perhaps the most balanced of them all thus far and just really showcases the barrel aging the best of them all as well. Just amazing. Just wish it was not so much for a single bottle of this; luckily I was finally able to try it due to it being on sale.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I chose to crack the Reserve 30 in honor of my 30th birthday today! Thought it was rather fitting... Bottled January 2009 #25,337

A - Pitch black finger of dark beige head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Bready molasses, dark cocoa, sweet maraschino cherries, a touch of smoke and peat.

T - The whiskey flavours (smoke, peat, sweet caramel and vanilla) shine through off the top, and further linger on the finish. The aftertaste is definitely reminiscent of that following a dram of scotch. The sweet cocoa and molasses notes come through midway in the swallow. Some bitter espresso notes are also noticeable. Certainly a complex and full flavoured ale.

M - Medium bodied ale that fills the tongue, goes down smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - A very memorable experience and certainly one of the best cask inspired ales I've had to date. Tons of scotch flavours amid a uniquely flavoured porter. Certainly a great celebratory ale, and even more so for my 30th birthday! Highly recommended to any fan of cask conditioned ales, and I can understand why this particular offering is so well received.

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Photo of Kendo
3.95/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle # 21429, Sept. 2007. Consumed on 6/25/11, making this one nearly 4 years old. . . .

A: Poured from the bottle into a Stone snifter. Body looks like motor oil - both thick and black. A small tan head is gone fast.

S: Nice. I get plum, molasses licorice and a touch of whiskey.

T: First impression - wood. Make that charred wood over peat malt. Not much more going on, other than a bit of whiskey. Finishes oddly clean and dry.

M: A bit thinner than expected - maybe reaches medium in heft, but barely. Carbonation levels are low.

O: Good. Not blown away by this, but it was interesting.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Has tastes of black cherries, oak, Trappist yeast, bay leaves, almonds, and spice. Really easy drinking and may possibly be one of my favorite beers. Definitely the best from all the Special Res. so far imo. Smells like rags that were dipped in a malt liquor than dried on a grill with burnt chicken and peat.

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Photo of Allpe45
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle number & date: 22614 / Sept 2007

Appears pretty much black, not completely though. Aggressive pour yields a small cap not amounting to much. It lingers seemingly forever and leaves a bit of lace.

There's an aroma of peat, along with some chocolate, wood, roasty malt, and scotch.

Taste has plenty of complexity and amazing balance. Roast malt, vanilla, and hints of whiskey lead the way, followed by cocoa, peat, and more roastiness. Baker's chocolate and smooth scotch flavors in the finish, no alcohol heat.

Body is somewhat thin, but that is forgivable considering that the base beer was a porter. Low carbonation, smooth and even a bit creamy.

Very easy to drink but this is a beer that should be savored and cherished slowly.

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Photo of LtCracker20
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 3/09

A- Pours a very dark, almost black, body with a 1-finger khaki head that slowly falls to a very thin cap. Lace is pretty good.

S- Sweet malts, peat, and a faint hint of whiskey and vanilla.

T- Lots of peat and whiskey flavors, not alchohol, but just the whiskey flavoring. Some burnt malts as well. Slight tartness and some faint dark fruits in there, too.

MF- Moderate to medium bodied. Lightly carbonated, and good palate coating flavors.

O- Overall, a very nicely done beer. A lot of whiskey flavoring without the alchohol burn. Well done.

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Photo of Long813
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black color with little mocha head and decent lacing.

S: Faint notes all around, nice roasted malts, some coffee and whiskey notes.

T: Smooth flavors of coffee, toffee, vanilla, oak, and some slight whiskey. Extremely pleasing brew, best of the series I'd say.

M: Medium-light bodied, good amount of carbonation. The after taste is amazing. No notes of alcohol.

D: Favourite of the bunch, it's amazing - to bad it's not cheaper.

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Photo of steven9000
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance- pitch black with a 1 finger creamy mocha color head.

smell- This beer smells AMAZING! I get lots of milk chocolate and vinilla and cocoa. some dark fruit and a slight hint of alcohol but this smells delish.

taste- I get dark chocolate and peat. I also get a whiskey aftertaste. One thing that i noticed with this beer is that its extremely soft in the mouth.

Mouthfeel- Extremely soft with low carbonation. Medium to full bodied.

Overall- This was such a treat to drink. This was one of the best smelling beers i have smelt. The only thing it was a little expensive at $10.99 for a small 330ml bottle. If this was half the price i would be buying it all the time. This was probably my all time favorite beer. I just loved how good it smelt and taste. AMAZING.

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

Bottle shared with my Girlfriend during an Ola Dubh tasting.

A - Poured with a one finger, beige head which was gone to a film quickly. Black body with mild visible carbonation. Leaves no lacing but a half finger of retention.

S - Cocoa, vanilla, dark fruit, flight coffee note, roasted notes. Oak and a slight alcoholic note round out the aroma.

T - Cocoa, vanilla, dark fruit, and a roasted coffee note form this. Less whiskey than the others but it's still there, mild but good.

M - Medium carbonation and a medium to full body.

O/D - Lovely. Well balanced and complex while capturing the whiskey element and rounding it out with other good flavours.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Normalish pour yields minimal orangey head that recedes into almost nothing, body is deep ruddy amber.

Nose is incredible, plenty of wood and peat, with some caramel. A scotch that smelled like this would be a nice one.

Taste is... amazing. Peaty, smoky, complex. This has truly absorbed the essence of the scotch casks in which it was aged. Torn between scotch and beer, why not choose both?

Mouthfeel is impossibly creamy; carbonation is imperceptible, but lends an extra substance and creaminess to the body.

Outstanding, scotchy, little more to be said. It's complex but defies adequate description in human languages. What more can I say?

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle date, March 2009.
Pours out deep black with about half an inch of head, no lace.
The smell starts with cocoa powder and whiskey barrel, plums and earth follow.
I should have served this warmer. I was unimpressed to start, so I waited 20 minutes and re-tasted. Plum, toffee, a hint of tobacco and a little oak and earth make up the start. The finish is all scotch (and good scotch at that). Nice and complex.
The mouth could use some work. I know it's only 8%, but it's a bit too thin, almost watery.
A bit expensive for a 12oz, but a good sipper. Went well with a banger and some chips.

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Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2oz bottle

Bottle No. 21981
Bottle Date: Sept. 2007

A- The box the bottle comes in is first class and the bottle and label is top notch as well. Poured into a snifter. Pours a dark black color with a light tan head with great retention and lacing. Looks beautiful in the glass.

S- The aroma is absolutely fantastic. Wow! The aroma is sweet and slightly roasty with chocolate, molasses, brown sugar and peat. Smells delicious!

T- The taste like the aroma leaves me speechless. The taste starts out with some sweetness and roasted malts. The finish features some of the scotch flavors from the cask aging along with some warmth from the alcohol.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice thickness and the perfect amount of carbonation. Spot on.

O- Overall, I am a huge fan of barrel aged beers and this is one of the better crafted beers that I have tried. Highly recommended!

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Photo of lowendfrequency
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*Disclaimer! I like scotch and my brand of coice is Highland Park. I might be a wee bit biased.

Ola Dubh Special 30 - Vintage February 2009

11.2 fl oz poured into 2 tall fluted glasses to share with a friend.

Pours a shadowy black with mahogany edges where the liquid is thin. A quarter inch chestnut colored head with moderate lacing quickly recedes to the edges of the glass.

The nose is big on chocolate, peat and a subdued smoke. Burnt sugars and a medicinal note are there as well with a slightly oxidized scent that the scotch lover in me has learned to appreciate.

Scotch, scotch, scotch. I love scotch... and this beer delivers. There are hints of roasted coffee, dark chocolate and a malty sweetness but they all play second fiddle to the scotch. This isn't just any scotch either, this is Highland Park 30 year and it's apparent. There is a distinct sherry-like oxidation that I prefer in barrel aged beers as well as a complimentary alcohol note. The peated scotch character hangs on the tongue for what seems like forever.

While the mouth feel isn't huge, it's certainly adequate for this beer. Typically, I expect a big finish on roasty/smoky beers of this type but Ola Dubh 30 crosses the line into single malt territory and has a satisfying finish. One of the most complex and well-balanced barrel aged beers I've had to date.

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Photo of biegaman
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ola Dubh Reserve 30 looks like something from a gourmet chocolate shop; it appears resolutely black - although does subtly let's on its true brownish tone along the trim - and decadently tasty. Its head, coloured like a walnut, is reserved and stays largely to the sides, leaving little to no lacing in its wake. The packaging, as always, was superb too.

As with the others in the series, my curiosity was too great for me to spend much time looking at it. I had to smell it right away. Not like I had a choice in the matter anyway - the aroma is so strong that it filled the room off the pour. Like the roar of a male lion through a still Savannah air, scents of peat and scorched earth let out a muscular and undaunted bellow. This is followed by restrained espresso-like roast and port-like grapiness.

What ensues is a succession of smells and flavours that are part of the charm and experience of both Highland whiskeys and stouter English old ales: bittersweet chocolate balanced by vanilla, wildflower honey, roasted cereal grains, wood spice, roast nuts, heather, peat, tea leaves and a subtle hint of Curacao orange. With flavour like this it's not hard to see why barrel-aging became all the rage with American brewers.

Although it may border on imperial stout territory and took up residence in the former haunt of a 48.1% percent whiskey, alcohol is a non-issue here. In place of any burning sensation, the palate and throat alike are made to feel at easy by the presence of a campfire-like smoke, an espresso-like roast, a faint anise-like spice as well as lush vanilla and honey sweetness. I opted for a snifter but in hindsight a pint glass would have worked as well.

Do not try to make this at home. I wish it were as simple as blending Highland Park 30 with Harveistoun Old Engine Oil, but I assure you it's not. The barrel this beer called home for an extended period had its previous tenant for 30 years; in a way, this beer was in the works well over a decade before I was even conceived. Considering the results, I'd say it's worth the $16 dollars I spent on it (and the other $16 I spent on a second bottle).

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

12oz bottle poured into snifter glass. thanks to cjo for sharing.

Pours a thick black color with a caramel brown edge. A thin tanned head disappears, leaving little lacing on the glass.

Wooden bourbon warmth followed by peat and smoke, molasses w earthy malt and faint sweetness.

Heavily roasted malt with earthy tones and body. Decent bourbon presence with boozy warmth and smoothing oak presence. Caramel sweetness with somewhat aggressive smoke and char. Syrupy sweet towards the finish with slick anise. Finishes warm and roasty.

Fuller body, sticky and syrupy. Nice drinking, but I would like better bal aging integration and some more interesting flavors.

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Photo of garbercury
3.94/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007, poured into a snifter...

A--Dark reddish-black, very little lacing and carbonation.

S--Chocolate malt, scotch, great nose. Very unique.

T--Mellow, taste the scotch in this guy. Not a ton of sweetness, interesting.

M--Super feel, really silky on the tongue.

O--Strange, but good. Certainly not a brew you are going drink a lot of, or all that often, but certainly worth a try...

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Photo of bsp77
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Nearly black with very thin head and some spotty lacing.

Smell: Sweet, salty and barely smoky, like a combination of soy sauce, molasses and peat.

Taste: Peat, molasses and chocolate are the stars of the show here. Some nice oak nuances. Scotch-like finish, with some bitter roasted notes as well. Leaves an odd aftertaste in my mouth.

Feel: Very think, syrupy body with low carbonation. Somewhat chalky, but very smooth.

Overall: Very interesting, unique beer. Doesn't really fit any style. This was actually a birthday present from my barber! Glad I tried it (and glad I didn't pay for it), but not something I would return to.

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Photo of windypete
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into glass a very dark black & thick looking. with a light chocolate one finger head.

aroma was very mellow with peat & malty notes & whiskey tones to it.

taste, wow a very smooth mellow taste. charcol,coffee & peaty very nice tasting beer indeed!.

overall a better more smoother & mellower beer than the reserve 12 edition, just a great beer to try, not everyone will love this beer but for me great! just need to try the 16,18 & 40 versions now.

CHEERS.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into tulip feb15 2011

A near black with a fast falling fingers worth of dark tan foam that leaves a single ring of lace

S smokey chocolate with some licorice and charred wood

T all I smell with some tobacco and leather, lots of evidence of the whiskey barrels with the smokey earthy goodness and some faint espresso, fairly complex and where the 8% of booze is hiding I'll never know

M not overly thick but still not thin, just enough carbonation to give it a creamy feel and long lingering flavors

D quite mellow and a little too easy to drink, just about perfect for this chilly night

this bottles a little over two years old and I can't see how it could mellow out further, I'm undecided if I need a few of these to age, at 12bucks a bottle it's not for the faint of heart. Who am I kidding? If this beers this mellow after 2 years I can't imagine it on its BB date

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Photo of Cheesemoose
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage. In celebration of our new condo.

Pours a nice hearty black. Soft chocolate edges that shines a deep dark garnet through light. A good hearty head rises up, which surprised me a little. Relatively good lacing at first, but dissipates down slowly.

Deep barrel aged goodness. Sweet, with a rich roasted nature. Soft chocolate finish with a touch of cherry. Not a booze bomb at this stage.

Soft start, with a nice sweet chocolate richness. Quickly transitions into a bold whiskey body. Very unlike most bba, because you get all the same characteristics of a single malt. Pepper body, rich smokiness and a sweet touch. Very nicely blended and the beer definitely compliments the barrel aging, or vice versa. A smooth finish, with a return of the smoky malt-whiskey base.

Very clean, little residual lingering. Carbonation is rather light, leaving you free to taste the beer fully. At 8%, no warmth, no bite, alcohol is fully mellowed out. Wow.

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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 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 kwjd
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last of the Ola Dubh's for me to try. Pours an opaque brown colour with creamy tan head. Head dissipates down to a very thin layer, leaving traces of lacing. Smells of oak, slight peat, smoke, vanilla chocolate with some roasted malt. Flavour really pulls together all the smells, quite a sweet aftertaste. Very smooth mouthfeel, almost like a thick liquid. This is a great beer and I would buy more of these if it weren't for the price. It isn't enough better than the Ola Dubh 12 and 16 to justify the price difference.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.04/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Part of a double boxed set I got for Christmas, along with the 40 Reserve. A handsome bottle and box combo; both remind me a great deal of those 'mini' sampler scotch bottles. I also love the mouse medallion as well.

Poured into a Duvel chalice. A dark chestnut colour, almost black, but with a touch of lighter tones around the edges. Initially formed a thick, 1/2 inch tan head, but this fizzled out of existence fairly quickly. A thin ring was all that remained. A few flecks of lacing here and there.

Although the nose on the brew could have been more mind-blowingly powerful, it certainly was the highlight of the experience. The scotch notes were unmistakably Orkney, its peaty/leather/iodine character reminding me of the whiskies produced by the nearby Scapa distillery (nearby to Highland Park, anyways) Bourbon, chocolate, cream, dark coffee, dark fruit also made an appearance.

The 30 held its own well, with a strong malty chocolate hit on the front of the tongue and the peaty musky burn towards the back, as is typical of northern scotches. Now the beer doesn't taste like a scotch; it just boasts some strong scotch-like notes. There's still a good Scottish ale background that keeps everything in place. I certainly enjoyed the brew, but again, for something barrel-aged, I was expecting more.

Aggressive, spritzy carbonation at first, but towards the end of the bottle, it almost became flat. I'm going to chock that up to aggressive swirling on my part to induce the nose, as well as the fact that I drank this over the course of about an hour. Thinner bodied, silky.

Like many a high-priced brew, it's good to try this one once, especially if one is comparing it to the 12, 16, 18 and 40, but probably not more than once (unless it's gifted to me, then by all means!). I've had the 12 before, not enough to warrant a review, but enough to find it as drinkable and complex as the 30, so I'm not sure the older barrels are doing as much as the price point says they are. For about 14 bucks a bottle, a beer better be 'damned fantastic'. The 30 was merely 'very good'. till, I have to admit the peaty scotch notes were nice, and the brew itself was worth savoring over the course of an evening, just like I would with a dram of single malt whisky.

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Photo of mrandypandy
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle received as a gift from my boss. Thanks Richie!

A - Pours a clear, clean black with a minimal mocha head. Head dies down quickly to a ring, minimal lacing.
S - Medium bourbon notes, caramel undertones. Could be a bit more potent.
T - Roasted malt, whiskey, a bit of chocolate. A little sweet up front but it's balanced out by the whiskey. Tasty.
M - Medium to light body. Thin and smooth. I was expecting heavier.
D - Really good. No flavor is overpowering, and there is no detection of heat/alcohol. Restrained.

Overall- I was expecting a big heavy whiskey bomb, but was pleasantly surprised. The whiskey is restrained, and the other flavors mesh well. Well done and recommended.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.25 out of 5 based on 424 ratings.
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