Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40
178 Ratings
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Nickls on 01-29-2009

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 178 |  Reviews: 114
Reviews by hopdog:
Photo of hopdog
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle. Bottle # 54159 and bottled on Jan 2009.

Poured a dark black color with a small sized tan head. Aromas of whisky, chocolate, some earthiness, roast, smoke, and wood. Tastes of whisky (more than the aromas), vanilla, smoke, wood, roast, and some dark fruits. Light alcohol in the finish.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Resuin
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 ounce bottle into a snifter. This was bottled in January 2009, so has nearly 5 years of age since bottling. Bottle #51952.

Appearance: Pours black and leaves about a half finger of tan head which fades away relatively quickly to a rim around the glass.

Smell: Roasted malts, peat, big fudge, coffee, whiskey, oak, lots of dark fruits: plums, raisins, figs. Well balanced aroma with a lot of good flavors.

Taste: The taste is a bit milder than the aroma. Light fudge, roasted malts, mild whiskey, plums, figs, finishes with oak. Really mellow flavor - I bet the time in the bottle did this. Mild, tasty, smooth.

Mouth-feel: Really low carbonation, but some. Actually a surprisingly light to medium body (for the style, this is surprising). Finishes super smooth.

Overall: Very mellow old ale with really well balanced, pleasant flavors. The ABV is all but hidden. Everything in here is wonderful, and it is a real easy drinker. Definitely recommended if you can find it.

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Photo of olradetbalder
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased in December of 2010 and cellared until August. The 30 came out a bit hot so I gave this one a few months. Handsome bottle with a Harviestoun mouse coin hanging from the nec.

Poured into a goblet, shared with my wife. Nice near black colour, initially looks quite over-carbonated but this doesn't last. A thin tan head, recedes into a fine ring.

Nose is lovely malt with a touch of Orkney scotch. Mild iodine, with nice notes of chocolate, oak and leather. Holds its own well even after about a half hour out of the bottle.

Even more robust than the nose hinted at, Ola Dubh 40 truly is at the top of its class. Rich malt flavor and with a fantastic woodsyness. Peaty, a bit of leather. Finishes with nice bitterness and a touch of chocolate and pepper.

Smooth-bodied, silky and with mild spritzy carbonation. The cellaring did this brew well, a few months in the dark evened things out nicely.

A pleasure to sip, this was a fun brew, especially for a whisky drinker such as myself. Unfortunately, the price tag is pretty steep - buy one, hold on to it, enjoy.

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Photo of thaghost
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of mondegreen
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle into an oversized sniffer.

Bottled January 2009, poured at 14 months old.

A: Pitch black with no head. Very dark brown highlights when held to the light.
S: Dominated by whiskey. Smokey, supported by a nice underlying sweetness.
T: Thick whiskey flavor. Subtle bitterness in the aftertaste. More smoke here, but it isn't overbearing. Very nice flavor. As it warms, the sweetness opens up and the alcohol bite becomes pronounced in the aftertaste.
M: Medium bodied with adequate carbonation. Carries the flavor well.
D: Seeing as this is meant to be a one and done, it is incredible. I am only getting into it, but I will want more when I am done. Too bad it is so expensive. I might still pick up a couple more for the cellar.

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Photo of glid02
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the glorious Brick Store Pub in Atlanta.

Pours black with dark brown highlights and a large-bubbled tan head the recedes very quickly into a thin ring around the glass leaving no lacing.

Smells of whiskey with hints of chocolate and roasted malts. The whiskey isn't overpowering though, which is impressive.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Whiskey flavors are at the forefront, although it still retains a good amount of "beer" flavors. Light chocolate flavors and roasted malts are there, along with simple sweet malts. The ending holds a bit of alcohol burn along with whiskey flavors that stick around for a bit.

Mouthfeel is interesting. It has the tiniest amount of carbonation, but it manages to not taste flat.

Drinkability is good - at least for me. I'm a fan of whiskey, and I could sip on this beer for quite a while.

Overall this is one of those Sam Adams/Calagione "extreme beers" that pushes the limits of what beer can be. The whiskey flavors are as intense as any beer I've had, but it still manages not to go too far over the threshold. Be sure to give this one a shot if you can.

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Photo of imbuckeye
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of biboergosum
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Packaged in a nice whisky-esque faux-wood grain box, with a small heavy medallion affixed to the neck of the bottle by a string, which announced my arrival wherever I carried this bad boy. Since I obtained this from the Summerhill LCBO in Toronto, that has been no small number of places...

This beer pours the (not 'a') black void, full stop. No edges, no tints, nada. It gives up two fingers of creamy mocha head, which melts away quickly, rendering a pencil-thin circumference of lace around the glass. It smells of non-Islay island whisky - very mild peat smoke, soft seaside iodine, oaky caramel, a bit of chocolate, a bit of oily nuttiness. The taste is lighted roasted caramel malt, Highland Park whisky barrel - mild, balanced smoke, peat, iodine, chocolate, and vanilla. The expected alcohol is notable only by its perceived absence. The carbonation is practically non-existent, the body full, creamy, oily ('Dubhish'?), and thick, and it finishes fairly sweet, offset a fair bit by the briny barrel attributes.

A lovely union of ale and whisky making expertise. Eminently enjoyable and drinkable for every reason but the price - 18 Canuckbucks, and in Ontario only, for that matter. That said, it was difficult to ignore this offering, given that I recently finished the 12 and 18 year old Highland Park malt whiskies, and trying the 40 year old, by proxy, I just couldn't say no. Like the fine whiskies, worth trying once for the extravagance alone.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ola Dubh 40 is near-opaque black with ruby highlights and a fast dissipating wisp of tan head. Aged in barrels that previously contained 40 year old Highland Park single malt, it has the peaty, smokey aroma of whisky married with rich ripe plum, molasses, fig, and just a hint of chocolate. The booze-soaked oak gives the beers aroma a mild buttery character, also contributing notes of vanilla, alcohol, and wood to its complex and inviting nose.

There's a black coffee component to its flavour that you wouldn't expect from the way the it smells. Dried fruit and caramelized sugar give it some sweetness; alcohol gives it some warmth. A very noticeable whisky flavour grows in intensity as the beer warms. Strong buttery oak character. Finishes with a long-lingering aftertaste of roasted malt.

Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. It has a slick, viscuous mouthfeel appropriate for something whose name means Black Oil. With it's dense, layered flavour and 9% ABV, this one is definately a sipper. It's also a sipper that leaves you in anticipation of each mouthful right down to the bottom of your glass. It's almost too easy to sip on it faster than would be sensible. Fantastic beer.

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Photo of Stigs
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle, served in a small tulip

A - pours with a short lived finger of creamy yet loose, light khaki foam which settles to a thin film, leaving some lacing behind. the beer is mostly black, letting in a faint amount of light around the edges.

S - whiskey on the forefront, yet doesnt overpower scents of sweet caramel, raisin, vanilla, and faint minerals. warming opens up hints of oak, earthy smoke.

T - semi-sweet off the bat: caramel, light milk chocolate, and vanilla. turns to some faint earthy hops, slightly oxidized with bits of dark fruit and sherry. whiskey is present but dances in the background, finishing with a flash of alcohol and oak. smoke develops nicely as it warms to room temperature.

M - medium body alongside some moderate carbonation. after settling for a few minutes, body becomes a little richer with a syrup like quality that lingers after the swallow. alcohol burn is at a minimum, this one finishes fairly clean with some lingering vanilla sweetness.

O - yummy old ale here, whiskey aging (narrowly) adds another dimension. falls a bit short of being elite due to a somewhat lacking mouthfeel, and slightly oxidized taste. wondering if this one isnt best really fresh. would try again.

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Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with no head. Like a cask in a bottle, but there is some carbonation. A sipper, with whiskey, dark fruit even imperial stout characteristics with a tad of roast and chocolate. Richness in taste, above average mouthfeel. Some sweetness helped. Have with a full meal.

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Photo of CanuckRover
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black. Held it up for highlights and looked hard, but all I get is darkness. Thin tan head to start, settles quickly to a ring around the glass. No lacings.

Big beer on the nose. High alcohol hits first. Next up some characteristic scotch aroma, well-cooked malt, very subtle smokey notes, a hint of vanilla.

Creamy goodness up front. I'm surprised at how approachable this is. A pretty complex beer, I'm having a difficult time taking it apart. Chocolate covered cherries seems to be the standout flavour. I'm tempted to suggest there are coffee flavours but honestly I'm getting very little roasted malt off of this, which is more than a little surprising. Smoke yes, roast flavours, not so much. The alcohol and oak are strong enough flavours to hang around for awhile after the beer goes down. Very pleasant.

The mouth is the main attraction for me. So viscous, bordering on creamy. Just enough carbonation to bring out the flavours, but no more. Ola Dubh coats the mouth and gives off a wonderful warming aftertaste.

I love Old Engine Oil and I love this. I'd been led to believe that it wasn't worth the price, but I have no regrets.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 52030

Thin tannish head, dark garnet body. Some lacing, but nice surface memory.

Nose is deep, vanilla, rich and oaky. Scotchy, but with an added depth from being beer. Leathery, in the best of ways.

Taste matches the nose-- a malt beverage that tastes like beer which is also Scotch. Oaky, rich-- more vanilla and roasty malt. The taste of luxury.

Nice and smooth, not syrupy at all. Enough body to confirm it is beer.

Quite nice. Frankly the closest to Highland Park 40 that I am likely to get.

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of DCgolfpro
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of jbonapar
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in Halfiax NS, Canada.

Never knew this existed!

Poured a BLACK creamy thickness with a Thick coal colored head. Wow.

SMell is Oak. Whiskey. Vanilla. Slightly smokey and peaty.

Taste is dam fine. An oaky-sweetness hits the palate but quickly the sweetness fades and a strong spiciness takes over. The oak stays but then the bitterness comes in and is strong at the end...As the bitterness fades, the oak comes back.

What a fantastic beer. Complex, different and unique.

Worth trying for sure if you can find it.

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Photo of JGuill
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of StormAles
4.61/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of beerthulhu
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

-Ale matured in 40 yr. Old Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whiskey casks.

A: Rich nestle chocolate on the pour is opaque in the glass with a bubbly 1 finger nutmeg colored head that is quick to dissipate. Standard issue representation.

S: Heavy on the scotch, perhaps a bit to much so, hides most of the rich dark roasted nature. With so much scotch hard to pick up on anything else.

T: The flavor continues the trend of the heavy hand of scotch presence. Really boozy upfront but the dark roasted nature is more evident here, very smooth in character and flavor after you get the initial scotch shock. Bitter bakers chocolate, fresh roast coffee line up for the finish.

M: The mouthful was very silky, incredibly fluid and viscose, with no sense of carbonation.

D: Very smooth flavor wise, nice sense of dark roasted malt but the scotch soaked cask notes were a bit much. I like some cask presence but the scotch notes were to a point where it overtook the general character of the beer which I could of achieved by grabbing some cheap scotch and watered it down. A slow moderate sipper at room temp, the lesser 16 came off much better and would recommend that instead.

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Photo of bonbini26
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On cask @ the Rattle n Hum 02-07-09

A - black as night pour with very little carbonation, barely a head that fades quickly

S - Whiskey, vanilla, oak, charred smoked smell

T - Def. taste the whiskey but its not overwhelming, then the smokiness of vanilla and oak, no carbonation, almost on the sweet side

M - no carbonation at all, silky smooth

D -Def. a sipper, stands up to any whiskey barrel ale i've had before

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Photo of paxkey
3.59/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

unusual metal trinket hangs from neck of bottle tied on by a string. the beer comes packaged in a brown box and when i first picked it up at the store i thought the bottle was broken inside from the clinking noise of the metal against glass.

looks like coca cola in the glass. no head.

smells nice. raisin and dark fruit. very complex nose. sweet smells compete with alcohol and wood grain. also getting some vanilla aroma.

sharp carbonation with lots of alcohol taste but a very nice finish. leaves a great flavor in the mouth that makes you want to savour until the next taste.

a little too much alcohol taste. the finish makes up for this as you forget the alcohol taste and are left with only sweet remnants of the sip.

a fine aged sipping beer, the alcohol taste and the high price tag makes me question whether i would seek this out again.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle, bottle 54407, bottled on January 20, 2009. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours very dark brown with a half inch tan head. Head retention is good, but not much lacing. The brew smells like roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruit, smoke, peat, iodine, oak, and vanilla. The Scotch Whisky aromas are pretty strong in this brew! The taste is pretty much the same as the aroma, it's all Scotch and malt. And as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it has low/moderate carbonation and it's a little bit coating although it does seem a bit thin at times. Drinkability is very good, it's smooth and pretty easy to drink. Overall I think this is a pretty good beer, but then I like malty beers and Scotch. That and I liked the other Ola Dubh beers I've tried. This beer isn't cheap at all, but it's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a deep black color ale with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet roasted malt with dominating notes of warming scotch is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by loads of scotch notes with some light vanilla and oak with marries very well with the base sweetness form the malt. Body is quite full with a creamy texture and some good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Very well done and would buy some again even with the steep price tag.

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Photo of Beejay
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 51442 Dated: Jan 2009

A: Dark black in the glass. An aggressive pour gives it an almost tapioca tan head. Lots of fish eyes, that gently pop into a thick foam.

S: Molasses and roasted notes come out right away. This smells syrupy with notes of vanilla, and oak. There is a touch of chocolate in there, like a rich creamy cocoa. There is a nice atmospheric smell, and well as a touch of short bread.

T: The first thing I got was a touch of peat. The peat is followed by oak, vanilla, and whisky. The finish is smooth with notes of chocolate, licorice, and peat smoke.

M: Thinner that you would expect, the carbonation is just about right. While the body is thin, it definitely coats your mouth with an almost oily texture. I think this gives it a bit more of a substantial feel to it.

O: Overall this is one damn tasty brew. A lovely balance of beer and wood, with just a touch of peat in it. Delightful.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 178 ratings