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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Ratings: 178 |  Reviews: 114
Photo of Cavery
2.74/5  rDev -36%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared with Klym, poured into Stone Nonic.

A: Consistent darkness in the glass with some sticky medium-small bubble head (with a violent pour) at about 1 finger. Sticky cobweb lacing that really has a grasp on the side of the glass; quite solid for a barrel aged offering. Everlasting rings of off white bubbles remain consistent with all other olah dubh offerings. A woody brown film remains for days atop the black body.

S: Sweet notes of dried indian corn really wear heavy on the front of the nose. Whiskey dominates with a surprising lacking of alcohol (just like dubh 30). A really forward theme of sweetness welcomes sugary barbecue marinades and dry rubs. A liquid concoction of smokey assortments lay mysteriously in the background. I can't pick out any specifics, there really is just a theme of sweet, dried, and slow roast. I almost want to say pork-belly like in character; minus the typical boldness associated with it.

T: I can't quite describe the flavor, but my impulse is to say barrel-aged grease. A really dry woody animal fat aspect to this beer that really just falls short. Instead of being buttery and delicious, it's really just like the runoff grease of a great piece of meat. There's characters of whiskey kissed woods and well-cooked meats; but the actual quality of the tastes is lost in angelshare. I really can't pick out flavors, and there really isn't much complexity beyond the animal fat sensation. As the beer warmed I definitely started to note an almost fishy oilness to the beer. Dark berries lose their luster in an overly subdued barrel.

M: A light and refined mouth that is a disappointing tease to the overall lack of flavor. It's like getting a fancy silver platter without any food on it. It is just a bit of a detail that adds to the taste-depression this beer has put me in. The angels took all their goodies away. The lighter body really makes me think something has gone fishy in this barrel-aged offering; really quite a shame.

O: Between this and my review of OD 30, I think this bottle may in fact be compromised. The flavors are so lackluster that I can't help but feel I am not having the same bottle as a great deal of reviewers on this site. That said, The flavor characters remain in tact, but they are just so mellow and two-tone. Yes there is sweetness, and yes there is the barrel wood; but dare I ask, where is the flavor? Fruits make appearances like apparitions in a long since abandoned home, and I would like nothing more than than to revitalize their home. Phantom flavors don't belong in barrels, which makes me believe the bottle may be compromised to the point that I question even doing this review. However, considering the fact that I have reviewed the prior beers in a horizontal, I feel obligated to put it here. Please let me know I am wrong in saying this beer is bringing open handed-slaps to a boxing match. Hit me with flavor, don't leave me wanting.

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Photo of Klym
2.83/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a stone nonic. Shared with Cavery.

A: Much like 30, pours a darkest of dates with a deep black and translucent brown edges. A small town head with maybe a little better lacing than some of the others in the special reserve series.

S: Hickory jumps out of this one with a woody backing and some small caramel/vanilla/toffee notes. Whiskey is less apparent in this than it was in 30 or I remember it in the others I've tried from the series but we'll see what the taste says about that.

T: Hmm, not really what I was expecting. Some hickory hit in the beginning with caramel/toffee/vanilla, but as I drink it down I get a very fresh woody taste that is actually kind of repulsive on the back of my tongue and it lingers on the top of my mouth and down my throat. Flavors seem really tame, even empty, in this and I don't get any of the barrel aging unless it's that wood.

M: Carbonation is well-lasting in this but this one comes off as watery for me. I was hoping for something creamier by the nose but it is what it is.

O: This one actually has me kind of shocked. I'm not sure if it's something wrong with this particular bottle but this was not really an enjoyable drink. After having had 12, 16, 30 and 40, I would say (surprising to me and it seems contrary to most reviewers) 12 and 16 were the best with 12 really standing out to me. 12 was something in the realm of exceptional, worth seeking out, 16 I don't remember as well but I remember thinking it was in the ball park of 12, 30 was kind of a disappointment but had its good points, and this 40 was just pretty bad. Again, not sure what to say, maybe something is up with my bottle but I wouldn't drink this again-- not even sure if I want to finish my glass.

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Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -29.9%

Photo of eawolff99
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
3.27/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle #56295 poured into tulip shaped glasses:

A: A murky black body with a chocolate milk shake looking head. This bubbly foam leaves a spotted lacing on the sides of the glass, while leaving no head retention.

S: Filled with dark fruits like raisins, figs, dates, and unripened plums. There is a strong whiskey aroma with a nice maple wood finish.

T: When the ale first hits your tongue there's not much going on until it reaches about three quarters of the way down the palate. At this point there's a smokey burnt toast, tobacco flavor that is followed by whiskey, and disappointment. Not as many complexities as we expected from an ale aged in forty year old Highland Whiskey barrels.

M: Watery up front, medium body on the back. Zero carbonation.

D: For such a high price item we are glad we decided to split this 11.2oz bottle. Probably won't be purchasing this again.

The Kings Of Hops

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.33/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz expensive ass bottle into a snifter with oglmcdgl, bottle number 56028.

A- Ola Dubh 40 is black, it's not jet black, but it's pretty dark. Just a small whispy small tannish cap on top with some very light lacing. The liquid does not look as thick as other versions.

S- Whiskey, and alot of it. All I can smell is the Kentucky elixer for a while before some warming brings out some smoke/peat with minimal chocolate. A good amount of roasted malt. A whiskey bomb in it's own right.

T- Yep, pretty much a whiskey bomb. It takes up about 80% of the taste while the remaining 20% is made up of all the other smells that I mentioned above. Tastes like it smells.

M- The 40 year old version seems to have a thinner body than other versions, or maybe it's just the 40 year whiskey barrel that just comes out with vigor. Either way this feels a few steps above medium bodied with a light and almost non existant carbonation. It's a bit hot on the mouth and not all to coating.

D- Im glad I split this bottle because I did not dig the huge whiskey tastes. No way I could enjoy a whole bottle of this to the head. I really enjoyed the lighter versions of this (12, 16) but this is a bit too much for me. Perhaps a few years of aging will tone down the whisk, but that's what this beer is all about, so I'll just pass this one on the shelves forever now, no need for a redo.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.35/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

This is a deep, dark, chocolate brown color with some ruby highlighting. The head resembles the color of a mochaccino. It forms to almost a finger thick, then recedes to a surface covering film. It provides some nice, though spotty, lacing.

Tons of oak are the first thing that I get. There is a light touch of dirt/dust scent. Good dose of peat. Roasted chocolate maltiness. Light traces of dark fruit sweetness. Mild hint of vanilla.

This follows the nose quite well. It's surprising to me, because I expected more of a peat presence in this one. It's totally dominated by the oak though. So much so that it's hard to find anything else, other than an occasional hint.
Kind of disappointing. Perhaps it's just past it's peak.

It's full-bodied and has a mild level of carbonation. Smooth and almost silky. No creaminess at all.

This is my least liked of the series, yet. I'd be willing to try this again, but will not actively seek it out.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.39/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Bottle #55737, bottled January 2009. I looked up how much the 30 year whiskey costs and the cheapest was just north of $300. The 40 year is just a fraction more at over $1,200 per bottle. And to think I thought this bottle of beer was expensive at $16.99.

3.0 A: Black color. Just about a finger of frothy light brown head. Retention is subpar and one lone, patch of lacing is left.

4.0 S: The 30 year Ola Dubh I had recently was from 07. I'm glad this one is from 09. The whiskey is more powerful. The base beer itself offers little aside from a roastiness and a bit of chocolate. The whiskey is where it's at. The 40 year is decidedly more earthy and "wild" than the 30 year. Mountain stream, ash, peat, mineral. There's also light amounts of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and oak. Really well integrated, but I think I liked the nose on the 30 a bit better. Still, this Highland Park stuff seems legit.

3.5 T: The base is again MIA save for some roastiness. The whiskey tastes like it smells, but could use a bit of power. Fresh running forest stream, ash, peat, mineral again. Coffee and chocolate gain some strength while the vanilla and oak stay in the shadows. Easily the most earthy whiskey I've experienced (most of which have been through beer). While this is tasty, both the base beer and the whiskey need some more strength for this to break past a 3.5.

2.5 M: Light to lighter medium body. Carbonation is a touch lower than what I'd like. Missing all creaminess for the most part.

3.0 D: Normally I'd give this a 3.5 out of general good will, but I can't since this is so goddamn expensive. It's not a bad beer, but it has plenty of flaws and the mouthfeel sucks.

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Photo of Hellpop65
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of ejimhof
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of ADZA
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle number 05777 and pours a thick black used engine oil hue which leaves a half finger head that quickly recedes and leaves little sporadic lacing,the smell is strong peated malts,smokey whiskey and a touch of oak,the mouthfeel feels more like a whiskey than a beer to me and is medium bodied and the taste is quite the same with hints of smokey whiskey,peated malts,oak,dark berries,a touch dark coffee and finished with twist of black cherries and dark bittersweet chocolate and overall out of all the versions i have had of this drop in different aged whiskey casks this is by far my least favourite as i think the whiskey really does overtake the nice characteristics that this brew does posess and its a little one sided for me cheers.

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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 MeisterBurger
3.62/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #01166. Reviewed about an hour after having an Ola Dubh 12.

Pours as black as coal with a thin cap that dies down to a collar. Slight lacing.

Smells like raisins/black fruits, chocolate, and alcohol with light notes of oak and vanilla.

Tastes a lot more like whiskey than the Ola Dubh 12 and it kind of takes a few sips for the flavor to get going. Notes of charred wood and syrupy dark fruit...and...

I don't know.

The barrel conditioning on this one has much more of an effect on the base beer and gives it a lot more oak and whiskey character than the 12 and seems to remove a lot of the depth, fruitiness and complexity and replace them with whiskey and booze. I probably like the 12 better for that reason.

Not a ton of carbonation.

Drinkability...well...no. Not for $18.40. I could get three Ola Dubh 12s for less than that and I'd enjoy them just a little bit more. Really, I understand and appreciate why this costs as much as it does. I just don't think there's enough of a payoff in the flavor to warrant spending that much.

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Photo of TheBeerologist
3.65/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Tasting notes from 8/10/12

Shared a 11.2 oz bottle with a friend - poured into a Jackie O's munich glass

Pours a dark brown with a thin beige head

Smells of oak, vanilla and a bit of smokiness

This tasted of oak and smokey peat with a bit of vanilla. Beyond the Scotch there was very little here, not much from the base beer at all

Light mouthfeel with moderate carbonation - much thinner than expected though

Overall I was hapy to give this a try but would be hard pressed to spend $20 on an 11.2oz bottle again - I will be trying at least the 18 and 30 in due time though

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Photo of thaghost
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of largadeer
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grabbed a bottle of this at the Pizza Port bottle shop in Carlsbad last Sunday, split later that day with HopHead84 while trying to pacify his maniacal dog.

Pours a dark chestnut brown, black and opaque in the snifter, with a dark brown head that quickly settles to a disc. Aromas of baking chocolate, smoke and peat are most prominent. There's a hint of heat from the Scotch barrel. The taste closely resembles the aroma, with baking chocolate and smoke up front, followed by subtle peat. The beer is medium-bodied and dry. The barrel character is well-integrated but quite dominant; a bolder base beer may have been better suited for Scotch barrels. Good stuff all the same.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of harpus
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of heytomcat
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of brother_kenneth
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of AgentMunky
3.76/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 33cL bottle into an Ommegang glass. From notes. Reviewed 9 July 2011.

A: No head. Very dark. Opaque with mid-dark edges clinging to the side of the glass.

S: Bourbony -- vanilla and wood-aged oaky excellence. It doesn't get much better than this in the nose. Sherry casked scotch? Tobacco (or something else)? So damn good.

T: Huh. Not that great. The endtaste is quite sweet, with a winey-round maintaste. Leathery? There is a huge amount of flavour in the taste, but it's not always very directed.

M: Really smooth, sweet, and nice.

O: Goodish, but not worth the price jump. Would I recommend it? No. Would I drink it again if offered? Hell yes.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.79/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared with my Girlfriend during an Ola Dubh tasting. From ntoes.

A - Black pour with a 3 finger mocha head that seems quite creamy. Mild visible carbonation, nice lacing and great retention.

S - Mild aroma, alcohol, vanilla, and roasted malt.

T - Oakiest of the series it seems. Tobacco, ash, sweet notes in the form of vanilla bean I think.

M - Medium carbonation, full body, dry finish.

O/D - Not bad. A little too oaky for me but it was still a good beer. One of the best of the series of course but the price tag is rough on the wallet. Worth a shot though, you won't be disapointed.

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Photo of charlzm
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed 07/13/09. Served at 54 degrees F in a Triple Petrus snifter. Bottle 56443, bottled in January, 2009.

Beer pours a clear, very deep caramel brown. Almost opaque, until held to light. A one-finger head forms then disappears completely. Some active carbonation from nucleation point in bottom of glass.

Aroma is, at first, all peaty scotch. After some warming and time, sweet notes emerge.

Flavor is marked by a salty peat character and a hint of sourness. Some sweet malts fleetingly emerge before scotch flavor asserts itself. Some smokiness on finish. Slightly dry.

At an ABV of "only" 8%, this is still a sipper. Thought the bottle has only 11.2 ounces, it feels about right for a solo drinker; this brew seems heavier than it ought to.

Not my favorite of the Ola Dubh series.

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Photo of bamadog
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to my buddy Ross for sharing this at a recent dinner and tasting. Pour is from the bottle to a pint glass and the review is from notes taken on 3/1/2010.

Appearance: Pour is pitch black and completely opaque; no head to speak of, but there is a solid tan ring and a faint skim on the surface; body is pretty thick; no lacing to speak of.

Smell: Chewy caramel malts with hints of chocolate and toffee; smokey peat and woodiness that is well-blended in the nose; faint whiff of alcohol is present but not especially potent.

Taste: There's a lot going on here -- first and foremost is the smokey peat and woodiness; there is a bit of a salty/meaty aspect to it as well (is the infamous umami I've read so much about?); underneath is the caramel and toffee/chocolate flavors but they're buried in there; definite presence of whiskey at the end that becomes much more prominent as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Viscous, but not "thick" like some other old ales (Old Stock and Adam come to mind); leaves a thin coating over the roof of the mouth; carbonation is light and minimal, yet present and the body is still pretty smooth going down.

Drinkability: Moderate at best -- the extreme smokey and "meatiness" really isn't my thing (not that I don't mind smoke as an aspect to a beer, but I feel it's a bit overdone here); I did enjoy this beer, but at $18 a bottle and at 8%, drinking too much would certainly be out of the question for me.

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Photo of bobhits
3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark yet weak body. Relatively flat with mild carbonation.

Caramel, oak, slight smoke and a hint of peat.

Caramel, smoke, peat, with a floral hop finish. A bit of chocolate and molasses as well. A very light and understated beer, doesn't have the power one expects from a beer that costs this much, but at the same time inviting and lingering.

A bit of a bit from alcohol or something. Very very light carbonation and low body.

I can't recall the other versions of this well so I can't comment on how this varies. A mild body and unique mix of caramel and scotch notes makes this very exciting.

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