Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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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

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Ratings: 424 |  Reviews: 230
Photo of eduardolinhalis
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle served in a ordinary glass.

Bottled in September 2007.

A: Pours a completely black color forming a small and thin beige head. Medium retention and some few lacings formed and left in the glass

S: Great nose. Strong notes of roasted malts, oak, dark chocolate and toffee. Some notes of whiskey

T: Strong notes of oak, roasted malts, dark chocolate, dark fruits. Slightly sweet upfront followed by a perfect roasted bitter end

M: Quite creamy body. Low carbonation. Roasted bittersweet aftertaste

O: Masterpiece

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

The third Ola Dubh I've tasted recently, after the 12 and 16 year varieties. Pours jet black with a tan head, initially about a finger's worth that settles down quickly.

Smell is big and complex, much improved from the younger beers in the series. Sumptuous creamy chocolate, sherry, vanilla, peaty smoke and oak. Mmmm....

The taste is dominated by oak, roasted malt and chocolate flavours, with vanilla, seaside, sherry, coffee, caramel and smoke. Earthy dryness in the finish. I think I liked the balance in the 16 Year better...

The mouthfeel is slick and smooth, but transitions to a very dry feel late in the sip augmented by the oaky flavours.

It's surprisingly drinkable! The ABV stays constant as the barrel-aging gets older, so the flavours get bigger but the "extremeness" stays put.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted side-by-side with the 12 and 18.
Poured in to brandy snifter.

A - Dark black with half a finger of light brown head.

S - Sweet brown sugar and molasses, oak, vanilla, whisky. Very complex with no one note being overwhelming. Very similar nose to the 18 but a little more of the whisky comes through.

T - Lots of whisky and oak barrel notes up front that are in a good balance. Some vanilla and brown sugar round out the palate.

M - Medium body, nice chew, lightly carbonated.

D - Much smoother than the 18, but overall very similar.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of ZacharyJ
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drinking this one in celebration of getting a new job.

Poured from the bottle into a tulip.
Bottle # 13447/Sept 2007.

A- Pours a solid ink black. About a quarter inch toasted head that dissipated after about 30 seconds. Deep red around the edging, and slightly purple when held up to light.

S- Not much here. Kind of like watered down whiskey. Slight wooden notes.

T- Tastes like whiskey. Shocking, I know. Doesn't have the same bite that whiskey does. It's perfectly balanced. Not overwhelming, but you can taste it.

M- A bit watery in my mouth. Very smooth. You can feel the warming of the whiskey and the alcohol if you hold it in your mouth.

D- Glad I saved this beer for a special occasion. If not for the price tag, I could certainly see myself drinking more than one of these. Hopefully the bigger paycheck will mean many more in the future. I would like to try and find the will power to actually hold onto one for more then a couple months.

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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 bruachan
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

super dark...old ale? more like porter. weak head, but lacing should be decent

many similarities to the ever-so-popular bourbon stouts in the US. the lame head detracts from scent experiences, but solid roastiness and scotchy oak abound

but scotch is even more apparent in the finish, which is dry for an old ale (i suppose that could be an illusion). good sweetness to support some sharp flavors--oak is highly present (especially in the 12-year, as opposed to 30-year). i think bitterness shows up more in 12-year than 30. quite roasty-flavored: mos def more of a porter than old ale

the scotch basks contribute a much smoother and mellower element than in the 12-year

fuller feel. swelling of flavors. vanilla is less pronounced in the 30

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Photo of matjack85
4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This 11.2oz brown bottle comes packaged in its own box and each bottle is numbered and signed by both the head brewer and the master of wood as this beer is aged in oak casks that previously held 3O year old single malt scotch whisky - hence the #3O on the bottle. My bottle # is 21647 and was bottled in Sept. of 2OO7. The bottle itself is foil wrapped over the cap and comes with its own miniature medallion. $14.99 per bottle at Sal's in Addison, IL.

The beer pours a deep dark brown color, almost black, but it makes almost zero head. All I got was a thin brown rim floating on top of the liquid. Not much lacing to speak of either.

Definitely a good whisky smell here, but under the whisky there's a lot of other stuff going on here. I'm also picking up dark fruits, oak, and smoke, along with both dark chocolate and sweet vanilla aromas.

Wow! This is delicious. Nice toasted malt backbone flavored with oak barrelled whisky, bittersweet chocolate, sweet vanilla, and wine-like red grapes that give an extra puckering feel to it. I loved it.

The mouthfeel is incredible. Old Dubh is supposed to mean old oil i guess, but this beer is nowhere near as thick as oil or even syrupy. It's creamy smooth, medium in body, and has a perfect level of medium carbonation.

Drinkability is limited more by price than anything else. I could go for several of these despite the 8% abv.

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Photo of portia99
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle graciously shared by FluffyMcTingle with several BA's. Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

A - Pours an almost pure black color with thin espresso crema-like skim coat that disappears rapidly.

S - Dark fruits, coffee, dark chocolate, quite roasty with a strong complement from the barrels of whiskey and oak and some peaty smokiness. Nice scent of vanilla emerges as the beer warms a bit.

T - Surprisingly smooth. Nice dark roasted malt with coffee and dark chocolate notes. Whiskey throughout with some creamy vanilla. Some caramel, smokiness and a bit of sweetness also there to round things out.

M - On the light side of medium bodied, perhaps a bit thin for the style. Carbonation is on the low side and adds to the smooth creaminess. Mild, mild whiskey warmth.

D - Overall, I enjoyed this beer. I think that this is probably one of those that is best in smaller quantities. Not sure how I'd feel about drinking the entire bottle. This one was off of my radar screen, so very glad get exposed to this one and give it a try.

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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.

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Photo of IPA4LIFE
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This beer is BLACK! Completely black with just a slight hint of color around the edges when I tilt the glass. Medium thickness dark brown head quickly formed and dropped almost as quickly. Pouring this beer reminded me a lot of pouring slightly flat Coca-Cola.

S- A beautiful whiskey barrel smell hits first. Not too powerful- just enough to compliment the coffee, and dark fruit (raisin) smells that go along with it.

T-The barrel, again, comes through in a brilliant way. A slight hint of whiskey pairs well with the smoky, roasted malt flavor that the beer holds.

M- A little thick, with a slightly dry bite towards the end.

D- Very good beer. A little heavy, and I could imagine the barrel flavor would get old after a while, but I think two or three in a sitting would be just fine.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.97/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle courtesy of a friend. This one's been aged for a little while, and was poured in to a cervoise. Part of my "3 Ola Dubhs in 3 hours" series.

Appearance: Well, my description must be getting pretty tired by this point, but, believe it or not, this beer pours pretty dark, inky, nearly jet-black, with only hints of glazed light sneaking in around the periphery, rendering the otherwise opaque body a hazy burned umber. The vigorous pour I had learned was necessary on the previous iteration of this brew coaxes the same finger-high espresso-hued head forth from the morass, with a retention that's strikingly similar, a foamy collar that's pretty much lifted from the 16, and the same spotty, inconsistent lacing that you'd expect from a barrel aged and 8% abv brew.

Aroma: Stronger barrel notes than before, unsurprisingly, with plenty of slightly spicy, mostly-sweet whiskey around to soak up all the estery fruit notes (raisins, plums, cherries, of course), the coconut and rum notes, the faintly sweet but mostly just uniformly dark and toasted malts.

Taste: Sort of an amped-up version of the 16. I'd say the 30 was a version of the 16 that was turned up to 11, but I think I'd be introducing too many numbers for this to be a useful sentence. That is, its flavorful, but a little less balanced and complex than the 12 was. It doesn't necessarily become less bearable or worse by being amped up to 11, but the problems are magnified as much as the strengths, in a way, so it's a wash. Toast, faint char, plenty of peat, dark toffee, black coffee, and cocoa nibs provide the malt base, but this one - more so than either of the others - is all about the barrel and spirit notes.

Mouthfeel: A little bit better than the 16, surprisingly. That is, it's still watery, with very low carbonation in a thick body that's been thinned out considerably by barrel aging ... but somehow, particularly with the intensified flavor profile, it feels more natural. Maybe that's coming from a man who's hand a lot of barrel aged beers and recognizes and accepts that sometimes, they're just thinner, waterier, and when you get a beer that showcases many such flavors, it's perfectly natural, even desirable sometimes (maybe) for it to feel as such ... but either way, I don't mind it at all.

Drinkability: Maybe I wasn't as blown away by these beers as I should have been. I think it's possible the base beers were just - on the whole - a little too thin, a little too "flavorless" (at least, relatively) to stand up to what a period of time in these various and sundry barrels would do to them. I'm not sure. Either way, this particular brew isn't more or less drinkable than its counterparts, and its fairly drinkable relative to other brews of its style/that I've reviewed as of late. For its price point, I don't imagine myself picking this up in the future (so, again, many thanks to my friend for picking this up for me), but I can imagine it being more up certain people's alley, and definitely worth trying once to some.

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Photo of hardy008
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a small tan head with fair retention. Smells of Scotch, oak, smoke, and dark fruit. The flavor is just like the aroma. It is slightly sweet, and is a malt lovers beer.

Smooth, low carbonation, creamy, and medium to full bodied. There is a little bit of alcohol heat, but it is not too much. A very nice beer, which I would gladly buy again.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark cola black with some dark brown hues on the edges. Large, very thick, creamy, frothy beige head. Good retention that finally reduces to a nice, thick, creamy layer of lacing.

S - Heavy whisky aroma with peat and some smoke. Also a fair amount of dark malt with a bit of chocolate and roasted, burnt barley with a touch of burnt oat. Overall, it has some basic stout like aroma in the background with the whisky aroma upfront.

T - A touch of dark fruit, cherry, raisin, and date, with some roasted dark malt and barley initially. This is quickly overtaken by a strong peat and smokey taste. More whisky and barrel flavors come out mid sip. The finish still has the strong whisky presence, but some more dark fruit, chocolate, licorice, tobacco, and earthiness comes out. There is a touch of mineral flavor toward the end as well. At first it was very heavy on the whisky flavor, but after sitting out for a little while, the other flavors came out a bit more and the whisky flavors smoothed out a bit.

M - Medium, starting to head toward full, body with low carbonation (which works for the flavors). Very smooth and slick with a slight drying finish that sticks around the mouth.

D - It was a little heavy on the barrel and whisky flavors for me to consider it all that drinkable. It gets to be a little heavy on the palate. However the smoothness and mix of flavors does make it an enjoyable sipper.

Notes: Bottle # 21780 bottled on Jan. 2009. Didn't really remind me of an Old Ale, as it had some stout like flavors and a lot of whisky/barrel flavors. Made a decent sipping beer to close off a night. Glad I got to try this, but the barrel flavor was a little heavy on this, which isn't in itself a bad thing, but it covered up too much of the flavor of the beer. I enjoyed it, but probably won't get it again, especially considering the price.

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Photo of lightindarkness
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle 18121, dated Sept 2007. A meager 'pft' as the cap comes off. Pours very dark chestnut with some faint gleam to the edges. A quickly rising and falling khaki head leaves a film and collar.

Aroma is strong - older grapes and bright juicy darker plum. Some sweet wood and dark gooey fruit bread. Peaty earthy smells are also notable.

The taste is much more subtle than the aroma, filling in somewhat empty and hollow, but nicely balanced and mild. Nice rich grains are enhanced by stronger dark fruits and very faint whisky notes of chalky vanilla and an airy smokey flavor. Finishes with earthy slate and an appropriate and mild alcohol spice. Flavor fills in well after the swallow, developing in complexity and presenting new flavors of vinous sweetness, fruit, and wet grains still clinging to the palate. Still remarkably mellow, almost wanting for more substance, and yet very pleasant and satisfying.

Medium bodied, with a nice thin film left on the mouth. Carbonation is subtle, leaving the beer to speak for itself. Again, almost more airy than it should be, but very nice on the palate.

Overall drinks very easily, smooth and refined, but with a lot of maturity in its subtlety. I could stand it to be a bit fuller in flavor, but won't complain about what's there. Goes down easily and makes an excellent sipper. The price per bottle prohibits me from keeping it around, but I would consider it.

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Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.82/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled in September '07. Poured @ cellar temperature into the Two Brothers Northwind snifter...

A - Solid two fingers of tight mocha head with decent retention and some lacing. Body seems to tightrope-walking between dark brown and black in color.

S - Very subtle and inviting aroma, without overwhelming my nose. Port-like oxidation, vanilla, coconut, and some peat are all well represented thanks to the Highland Park casks. Malt aroma compliments the cask aromas well, with almond like sweet nuttyness, and slightly smokey roasted malt aromas. Fruity esters are assertive enough to be noticed in the complex aroma, but give the spotlight to the barrel aging and the malt.

T - Entry is a surprising combination of sweet chocolate and lacto-like sweetness. Roasted malt and whisky sweetness flavors build shortly thereafter to help balance out the sweet entry. At the midpalate, some nice stale beer tartness creeps up to add complexity, followed by some resin-like hop presence. The swallow blends the hops, roasted malt and whisky sweetness cleanly, with only a little spice and whisky lingering.

M - Carbonation is appropriately mild, with the nice soft body one expects from a well-aged barrel beer. The bottled version is shockingly similar in mouthfeel to the cask version of the 40 year old reserve that I've sampled.

D - I think I still prefer the 16 year old version of this beer, but this whole line is full of fantastic beers. Great complexity, one of the best examples of barrel aging I've ever enjoyed and the best example of a bottled beer really making me think of cask beer. Fantastic.

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

Had the opportunity to try this at Eulogy in Philadelphia today, I've never heard of this beer before and the bartender sold me on it. (I'm sure glad he did. Thanks, Dave!) The Ola Dubh in the title translates to "Black Oil", very fitting for this beer. It's also pretty cool that every bottle is individually numbered and labeled by hand.

Pours a pure black, completely opaque, no carbonation, no head, light lacing around the glass, and sticks to the sides like syrup.

Smells is predominantly Scotch Whiskey, molasses, slight traces of mocha, bittersweet chocolate, figs, prunes, and has a slightly smokey character buried deep in the taste. I really wish this beer had a more bold, aromatic nature.

The sip starts with a bittersweet chocolate which carries throughout. The finish is a lingering bittersweet that sticks around for quite awhile. Molasses coats the mouth and there's an underlying toasted caramel in the flavor. This is a deep and complex beer, the flavors seem to hit the tongue in layers. There's small amounts of "oakiness" that comes through due to the barrels this little gem has been aged in. For something aged in a whiskey barrel, the ABV is something I consider to be on the low side, which is amazing because many U.S. beers aged in similar vessels seem to run higher in alcohol. The really impressive part is the alcohol is COMPLETELY hidden.

Mouthfeel is sticky, silky, and full bodied.

Drinkability runs dangerously high with this beer, but at this price, who can afford to drink it in quantities? Is best served in a snifter, at room temp, and would be a good night cap or after dinner. Because of its complexity, best to have a clean palette to enjoy all of the complex subtle nuances. If you can find it, definitely try it. My friend today tried the Special 12 version of this and it wasn't as deep, but still very, very good.

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Photo of Hypersomnia
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a bottle. (Edit: Switched to a Snifter and the nose was way more obvious and awesome. Upgraded the smell from 4.0 to 4.5).

Pours as dark as night with a small but nice brown head, which slowly turns into a thin brown ring.

Aroma is of dark fruit (prune?) and chocolate malt. Kind of reminded me of an oatmeal raisin cookie there for a second. A hint of scotch / wood.

Flavor is more or less like the nose but times 10. Bitter chocolate, vanilla, caramel, grain, scotch. Wow this is some excellent stuff.

Mouthfeel is medium to full-bodied, not as thick or sticky as I would have expected from the appearance but this is a good thing. Mouthfeel is pretty excellent, makes this quite easy to drink.

The drinkability on this is very high, I would definitely like to have another one of these and because the mouthfeel is not too "oily" and viscous this is pretty easy to drink.

Finish lasts for about 15 to 20 seconds pretty long but not so long that the flavor builds up and gets too extreme. Perfect length for this beer.

As a side note, this is many times tastier and more drinkable then the Old Dubh 12 year old.

Overall this is an excellent brew.

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Photo of BeerNemesis
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve. 11.2oz.
Bottled: September 2007
Bottle No.: 11985
Poured into: 2009 Ommegang Chalice

Black as night, dark brown under light. A sliver of off-white head. paper-thin film of lacing streams down the glass with each sip.

A thick smell of wood, Highland Park 30 year single malt whiskey, and smoke peak wafts over powerfully as I take my first sniff. Dark fruits, red grapes, and vanilla peer out from behind the curtain of smoke.

A mellow, smoky whiskey flavor hit me first, and then caramel and vanilla malts followed. The flavor hits in waves, never overpowering, but not lackadaisical either. It hangs to the roof of my mouth and wallows inside like a bloated cloud. The flavors are refined, complex, and different from anything else I've had. Almost no traces of alcohol taste.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability:
Medium bodied, not sticky and viscous in the slightest, Ola Dubh does carry some weight. After three years, the carbonation is largely missing, lending to the heavy qualities experienced after each suck. There is so much smokey flavor -- though none of it oppressive or overbearing -- that it would be difficult for me to stomach another Ola Dubh. That being said, it is a refined, offbeat, and tasty occasional delight.

I occasionally chewed rosemary crackers in between sips. The combination worked well for me. Would I have Ola Dubh again? Maybe. Am I glad I tried it? Most definitely.

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

Been sitting on a few of these for a couple of years now.

Pours with little tan head and is very deep brown in color.

Earthy aromas with milk chocolate, red currants, caramel, hints of oak and wood, vanilla, scotch and some dark fruits.

mmmm nice smokey malt flavors really fill things up. Roasty malts with burnt caramel and milk chocolate. A bit herbal in the back and a moderate finish. Carbonation is tingly and slightly too much in my opinion but very good nonetheless.

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Photo of 4000qtrap
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Source/Serving: Draft

Smell: Dominated by sour cherry and sour grape notes. Strangely reminiscent of being in a field of ripe berries. A hint of farm fresh unsweetened grape juice. A touch of chocolate appears as the beer warms.

Taste: Incredibly wine like. Roasted, chocolately grains hit the palette first and are the only beer-like quality present. A sour, powerfully dry wood flavor appears next - which while not grapelike - is just like a dry red wine (Now I read that its aged in whisky barrels....that explains it). There are some ripe fruit flavors and a sharp, mostly tannin but slightly grassy, bitterness. This beer is not remotely sweet. Its drinkability was laborious.... It's a intense beer that really pushes the boundaries towards wine-like flavors and I'm not a big wine fan, unfortunately. However, I respect their intention. As the beer warms up a slight sweetness emerges in the form of fruit syrup.

Notes: Amazingly wine-like. Very unusual. Well balanced, complex flavors.

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Photo of rhinos00
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally decided to open up this sucker. Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Bottle #19287; September 2007

A- Color is very similar to a chocolate brownie. Zero visibility. Produced a half fingers width of off-white head. Dissipated to a thin ring around the glass.

S- Lots of wood with definite notes of whiskey. Also picking up smoked peat. Soft notes a vanilla hear and there.

T- Interesting indeed. Initially I picked up a mellow whiskey flavor with vanilla and caramel malts. The sweetness, while subtle, grew in the end. This beer also took on a smoked beechwood character, akin to the Aecht Schlenkerla beers. While the smokiness was there, it was nowhere near as dominant as the German counterpart...subtle in fact.

M- The package stated that this was a "viscous and gooey" beer. That it was not. Medium bodied with good carbonation. Could have definitely used a thicker mouthfeel.

D- This one drank real easy. Really did not taste the alcohol in this whatsoever.

Overall, this was a pretty tasty beer. However, at $13 to $14 price tag for a 12 oz. bottle, I think I'll be passing on this one from now on.

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

Bottled September 2007, consumed January 2010. Made a roadtrip to Louisiana and found this dusty old box sitting high on a shelf in a little beat down liquor store.
poured up a nice dark brown with an everlasting brown head. great lacing. the aroma was caramel, subtle dark fruits, red grapes, very pure. the taste was deep....oak, scotch, smoke, red grapes, apples of all the colors, caramel. Medium bodied, low carbo, very smooth.
All in all this was a bad bitch. I drank this with a buddy in the car while chillin at Sonic. Best Sonic trip ever. Now I just gotta try to find the Special Reserve 40...

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Photo of maximum12
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A gift from my marvelous wife for Christmas this year. Who wants anything other than a wife who gives you beer when you already have three years worth socked away in the basement? Label has it bottled in September 2007, so it comes into my hands well aged already.

Completely, utterly, bat black, looking still & rather sinister underneath a patina of mocha. Smell is very promising, rich vanilla dominates the nosescape.

...and exhale. Is anybody just making straight-up beer anymore or has everything gone cockeyed? Luckily this one seems to be careening off the rails in a very positive direction. The bourbon is welcome & subdued, but the oaky, churlish smokiness of it caught me off guard. Another sip, me nodding. OK. Secondary tastes come in slowly, low concentration of chocolate, vanilla, sweet, sweet malts that counter the bourbon. The layers of this have layers.

The barrel gives this a dry finish without the wood being active in the taste. Not much in the way of carbonation, but the stillness of the brew seems to match the gravity of this serious beer. I'd planned to knock this a bit on drinkability, but now I notice the stuff is disappearing at a rather rapid rate. Interesting.

Excellent beer. This is the first I've had in the "Reserve" series & to judge by this bad-boy, I have a need to sample the others. This is quite simply a well-made beer.

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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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