Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40
BA SCORE
4.28/5
Outstanding
177 Ratings
Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40
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:
No notes at this time.

Added by Nickls on 01-29-2009

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,220
Reviews:
113
Ratings:
177
pDev:
9.81%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
89
Gots:
28
Trade:
1
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 177 |  Reviews: 113
Photo of jjayjaye
4.12/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque darkness with a shallow light tan head that fades quickly leaving little lacing behind. The smell is nice; boozy sweet roasted malt coffee cherry vanilla tangy character. The mouth has a lightly carbonated yet spicy..if not 'hot' creamy smooth texture to it. Full flavored, the taste is spicy, peppery bourbon vanilla caramel. More of a sipper; the 8% ABV is less than anticipated. This one has more heat than I would've thought. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat though...can you imagine the 'rent' required for the floorspace of a 40 year old barrel???? OMG. How does that fit any business model? Really glad that I had the opportunity to consider it. Highly recommended.

 687 characters

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.

 277 characters

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.

 869 characters

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.

 1,049 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle no. 48684 - Bottled in January 2009 -

Pours very dark brown to black with a fading light brown head that becomes a thick ring.

The smell is of vanilla/oak with chocolate, some smoke and a hint of anise.

The taste of whisky blends with chocolate - less woody and more whiskyish than I remember the others being (esp. the 18, which I had shortly before this one). Sweet with some woody and peat smoke dryness in the finish.

Hits full-body with light-to-medium carbonation.

Potent - whisky sharpness shows on this one. It has a dark malty, lightly smoked character along with the wood/whisky barrel character. Very nice, though not worth the $20 an 11.2 oz. bottle for this one, IMO.

 692 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.87/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing this, Chris. Consumed on the night of 11/08/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer is black when held to the light. The head is dark brown and an inch high.

The nose is mellow, but excellent. Chocolate is present with a moderate roast. Notes of peat and smoke are at a moderate level. Alcohol heat is noticeable, but it is inoffensive and blends nicely with the peaty scotch notes. Nice and mellow nose. Peat blends nicely with the smoke and the mild stout.

The flavor is similar to the nose but mellower. It's light roast with some wood notes, moderate peat, and smoke. Chocolate is present and the beer is slightly bitter. I'm surprised to find the alcohol well hidden in the flavor, after its potency in the nose. All around a dry and very mellow stout with prominent single malt characteristics.

Low carbonation and a slightly thin mouthfeel. Damn drinkable beer. After a weekend of IPAs this is refreshing on the palate.

 951 characters

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.

 677 characters

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.

Cheers,
The Kings Of Hops

 916 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Cask tapped at the opening of Birch and Barley / Churchkey in Washington DC. Beer served in a snifter. Beer is dark, big bubble brown head, nearly non-existant and disappears quickly, low carbonation, no head to speak of.

Aroma is sweet and creamy. Not what I expected. No hop, no alcohol to speak of, maybe slightly. The sweetness is not the brightness of the alcohol at all, more like chocolate, almost raisin.

This beer in insanely smooth. Some woody notes in the flavor, really sweet up front, almost nothing in the back, medium body, great mouthfeel, drinkability really high. No aftertaste. Beautifully balanced beer all around.

 637 characters

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

From Zeno's cask festival in State College, poured into a goblet...

A- Black with some crimson hue around the edges of the glass and absolutely no head.

S- Smell is of scotch, cherry, vanilla, wood.

T- Taste follows suit with the wood more pronounced and some chocolate flavors as well.

M- Incredibly smooth.

D- Somewhat low but still high enough that I can easily make it through a 10oz portion. Some might disagree with me.

Overall a fantastic beer, probably one of my favorites.

 487 characters

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.

 302 characters

Photo of Seru1
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this at a beer dinner on 7/25/09

Appearance- Perfectly black with red round the ends like a glass of old port. There's no head to really speak of

Smell- French oak aromas. Like a fine french wine or a Glenlevit 15. Vanilla, honey, and red berry. There is a ton to take in in the nostril arena. Like a very fine scotch I never had a beer this intense.

Taste- Big Flavors of cherry and vanilla swim around the tongue with hints of oak and leather. Just like sipping a fine old scotch, it's hard not to gush but this beer stole my heart.

Mouthfeel- Full bodied and wonderfully lasting, comforting. Phenomenal beer.

Drinkability- I wish it weren't only available in a cask and so rare, because I would love to drink this beer all day long.

 746 characters

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.

 792 characters

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

Pours a dark stout body dark brown not yet black. Head is nice and bubble and light brown. Smells of smooth oak and raisens and coco. Taste smooth buttery front with not much in the middle then a oak barrel and alcohol finish. Very very smooth. At times it seems almost flavorless. Great balance. Moth feel is oily slick a little foamy. The drinkability is insane so smooth so balanced. Amazing.

 395 characters

Photo of mikeyv35
3.85/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2009 Vintage
11.2oz. Bottle #48733 into Gulden Draak Tulip

This brew pours black as night (looked more stout than old ale) w/ a thin tan head. Beautiful lacing that continued to hang on the glass throughout the sampling. The nose on this one was of strong chocolate and roasted espresso beans up front w/ oak, light scotch, and vanilla pipe tobacco in the background. Taste was pretty much on point w/ the nose, with the addition of burnt toffee, woodiness, and a slight alcohol warmth on the finish. Medium bodied - kinda slick on the tongue, and leaves dry and clean. This was an enjoyable offering, but this is more scotch than beer in my opinion, which takes away from it's drinkability. Definate sipper. Not that it matters to the review, but this one is extremely pricey @ $19.99/11.2oz. bottle. Overall, not amazing, but nice and would sample again anytime.

 865 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stumbled across this at Sam's South Loop and figured I should give it a shot. Served in an Atomium snifter.

A - Surprising foam for an old ale - a half finger of tan foam that dissipates fairly quickly to a ring. Black with some dark, dark brown hints at the fringes of the glass.

S - Dark fruits, smokey peat, wood, whiskey, chocolate, roast malts. Nice balance while rich and complex. It's a little boozy but it obviously is stylistically appropriate.

T - The taste is much smoother, without as much of the whisky flavor and more of the dark fruit old ale/barleywine flavor going on. There's still some wood flavor in the aftertaste, but I don't get as much of the smoke or whiskey flavor. The milder taste makes it easier to drink but also makes me feel cheated a little compared to the wonderful smell.

M - Consider this was basically a cask-only offering until now I'm pretty satisfied with the mild carbonation and medium-to-thick body. It's not totally flat but it's very smooth and leaves behind some dry smokiness and sticky caramel sensations.

D - The 4oz serving was plenty after two pints of Double Jack, but I'm pretty confident I could have had the whole bottle if it was earlier in the session. The aftertaste is smoky but not overwhelming, and the ABV is surprisingly low for a barrel-aged brew that is this rich in flavor.

I'm going to have to re-visit the other Ola Dubh brews to compare them against this one. If you're a Scotch whiskey lover this is worth trying for sure.

 1,498 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On cask at Maxs.

Like the Ola Dubh 30, this one is dark brown with a dark brown head. Retention is poorer, but this still is a good looking beer. Again, the nose is smoky, peaty, chocolate-y, but smoother, milder and a little more delicate. The peat is a little bit more, and the smoke, a little less. Excellent stuff. Not very boozy, and the whisky notes are incredible. On the palate, the nose is replicated, opening up with the whisky, along with a mild licorice, brown sugar, nuttiness. Finishing rather dry and smoky with some whiskey, this beer is a treat. Excellent stuff

 579 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on cask, gravity poured at the Brick Store Pub. I'm a great lover of whisky or whiskey laced beers, at least via the barrel, and this one is no exception. Superb, and my favorits of the series after the 30 year cask. Pours black with no head, but no worries here. Smells of peat, the barrel, and whisky. Very smooth and balanced and not in the least bit hot- compared to say, the 18 which was quite so. The taste is beautifully balanced with lots of restrained whiskey character. Briny, smooth, peaty, malty, and simply whiskyish. Wonderful. Ultra smooth in the mouth and deliciously drinkable.

 603 characters

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

Pours an smooth, opaque black with no head at all.

Nose is chocolate, smooth, a hint of peaty acidity, and a very subtle, mellow roasty underpinning.

Taste is rich and so mellow - smooth milk chocolate notes, with a tiny bite of acidity, a very subtle peaty smoke note, and an earthy, organic finish. Very unique beer.

Mouthfeel is smooth, but with that round, silky, gentle fluffiness that comes from well conditioned cask. Superb.

30 on cask is still my favorite, but this one is still a gem. Several of my favorite barrel-aged beers are Scotch aged, and this one reinforces that streak.

 596 characters

Photo of gford217
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the Brick Store.

Arrives ink black in the glass with only a few bubbles around the top, all of which recede quickly to nothing and leave no lacing.

The aroma is big on this one and dominated by the scotch barrels. There are some sweet malts in the background.

The taste is a little different as the sweet chocolate malts come out more as well as some dark fruits. The scotch is present but not as dominate as the nose and the taste, overall, is like a scotch-soaked chocolate dessert.

The mouthfeel is very slick and smooth with almost no carbonation and plenty of barrel presence.

I really enjoyed this one, especially the taste which was very well balanced given the barrel aging. Very tasty.

 710 characters

Photo of bhalter8
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The run of casks leading up to the Ola Dubh 40 yr at the Brick has been fun. 40 yr was certainly an exciting pour. Looks very similar to the 30 yr in that it is an ink black, this one has little to almost no head though. Very low carbonization, as well, it really looks like ink, really... The whiskey smell is apparent, with some sweet malt hints. A very warming feeling as soon as it hits your mouth, the whiskey is once again significantly present. There is some , maybe caramel, sweetness in the background that provides an interesting dynamic to the whiskey. I enjoyed drinking this to start off my evening at the Brick, but the strength of it, and the whiskey, makes it more of a beer that stands on it own. Definitely a distinct, and delicious flavor.

 758 characters

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.

 1,117 characters

Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Gravity Pour from a 40L Steel Cask at The Brick Store Pub - Pours pitch black almost completely opaque with a small one finger head that immediately recedes. Smells mostly of whisky with some burnt roasted malts in the nose. First sip is tangy with a rush of whisky being by far the most dominate flavor. There is chocolate and a tad of coffee along with some burnt malts and dark fruits all a supporting role. As it warms, some vanilla and smoke appear adding to the beer's complexity. There is absolutely no carbonation present and the beer is fairly light bodied. I sipped this in a vertical of Old Engine Oil, 12 Year, 30 Year, and a shot of 12 Year old single malt Highland Park Whisky. The difference between the 30 and the 40 year versions were minuet.

 759 characters

Photo of LittleDon
4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

8 oz. pour into a snifter. Dark brown to black with no head or noticeable carbonation. Yeasty nose with hints of whiskey. Sweet, caramelized malt taste and medium-heavy on the tounge. Aldehydes in the finish with hops barely present.

Very interesting beer. The whiskey barrel aging is evident in the nose, but not overly so. Sweet, but not cloying. The taste reminded me of the sweetness found in dark bread. The finish was complex, with cabernet notes. Might have had a second if it wasn't so expensive ($16 US) and this isn't a style of beer I usually drink.

 561 characters

Photo of John_M
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap/cask at Mahaffey's the other day.

The beer pours a blacksih brown color with fairly good head retention and lacing. The nose on this beer is attractive, consisting of molasses, peat, light chocolate and vanilla. The peatiness in this beer is very dominant in this beer and is almost too much of a good thing. Nevertheless, like the 30, it adds some additional comlexity to the aroma that is attractive and intriguing. The beer is pretty delicious on the palate, with the flavors replicating the nose. The beer has a very soft, plush mouthfeel, with a long, creamy finish. Alcohol is pretty well disguised and I had no problem knocking back a couple of 5 ounce glasses.

A nice beer, though I'm not sure it's any better then the 30. Unless they were priced similarly, I would probably always get the 30.

 810 characters

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 177 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.