Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 | Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18

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

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Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 444
Photo of Jeffo
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Got this one in Bodegraven. Drank the 16, then the 18 and then the 21 yr. Some notes for comparison.

From a 33cl bottle into a snifter
March 2014

APPEARANCE: A clear dark brown pour yields a 1 finger, medium looking, creamy and bubbly light tan head with good retention. Head fades to a full swirly wisp. Bistre brown body with no carbonation evident. A swirly wisp remains until the end leaving touches of lacing down the glass. Same as the 16 yr.

SMELL: Some decent peated whisky, aromas of leather and some dark chocolate on the nose. Medium strength. Nice, but not overly impressive. Similary to the 16 with a touch more peat.

TASTE: More peated whisky, leather and smoky flavors up front. More earthy notes at the swallow with a medium strength but lingering finish of peat, earthy hops, leather, some dark chocolate, toffee and raisins. Flavorful with some well balanced peat and smoky notes. Just as the 16 but with more peat and smoky character.

PALATE: Thinner and foamier body with medium-high levels of carbonation. A bit lighter on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly drier.

OVERALL: Same as the 16 but just a touch more peat and smoke here. The body is a little foamier, which is unfortunate, but otherwise, it's a solid brew and worth checking out. Still doesn't hold a candle to that 2010 12 yr I had last year, but maybe nothing will...

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Photo of Knapp85
3.3/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

When I saw that they had this on cask at the old Tap & Table I was really impressed. I ordered one right away because I had enjoyed trying so many of the others. This is the first and only one that I haven't had from a bottle so far. The beer poured out jet black in color, no surprise there. The smell of the beer wasrich with smokey and roasted aromas as well as scotch as well. The taste of the beer was about the same as the 12 to me. The mouthfeel was a little too light I think, The cask aging didn't benefit this beer in my opinion at all. Overall it was worth trying but I would only ever buy the 30 and 40 year ones again.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.39/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled shared with my Girlfriend while comparing all of the Ola Dubhs. From notes.

A - One finger tan head on a black body with a film of retention and minor visible carbonation. No lacing remains.

S - Alcohol, ashiness, dark fruit, and a stronger whiskey element than the 16.

T - Alcohol, woodiness, less dark fruit than aroma and the 16. Tobacco and ash come out with smokiness which is quite intense. Coffee is there too.

M - Medium carbonation and full body. Really sweet/tobacco/ashy finish with some coffee.

O/D - More complex than the 16 but in a less pleasant way. Alot more alcohol is noticable and that ashy aspect holds it back. Otherwise it's alright but there are others in the series worth checking out before this IMO.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.4/5  rDev -19%

$ 10.99/11.2 oz bottle at Vintage Estates, Boardman, OH
Bottle # 01811 Apr 2013 at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of generic whiskey
Head small (2 cm), light brown, frothy, slowly diminishing to 3 mm ring and partial layer
Lacing fair – some irregular branching with tiny bubbles
Body dark brown/black and opaque
Flavor of generic whiskey with coffee overtones; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 3, Aroma 3, Flavor 3.5, Palate 4, Overall 3.375. Final weighted score: 3.4.
OK, but not the quality expected from an ale this pampered. The general whiskey aroma and flavor were OK but since the aging takes place in Scotch whisky barrels I expected more of the scotch to come through.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.48/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottled September 2014.

Great looking pitch black brew with an ample amount of tannish foam.

Big caramel malt smell bordering on notes of butterscotch. .in other words, oxidation. Some dark fruit.

Tastes of caramel and oxidation. Butterscotch is there and will probably grow as time goes by. Some dark fruit hints. Whiskey seems to be playing second fiddle. Some, most English Old Ales/Barleywines with a heaping helping of oxidation, I dig. In this one, not so much.

High end of medium bodied, low carbonation.

It is not as bad as I may have portrayed it in what I said above. I will say that I have no desire to drink it again. I appreciate the smaller bottle presentation.

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Photo of mbeerdino21
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%

Based on the reviews I was expecting a lot more from this one. Very underwhelming. Almost tastes flat with some Band-aid smokiness. At least you can pick up the barrel characteristic. Only thing this had going for it.

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Photo of brystmar
3.61/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a pint glass; from the Jan'09 batch. Pours jet black and viscous with about one finger of tan head that disappears quickly. No lacing.

Nose is dominated by oak barrel and whiskey notes, some chocolate behind the curtains too. The smell is certainly its best quality.

Loads of the typical barrel-aged flavors hit you first alongside smoked malts and hints of bourbon & chocolate. In my attempt to differentiate the barrel-aging qualities from the beer itself, I've concluded that the brew is about average while the flavors attained from aging are quite good. Very oak/barrel heavy overall, especially as the aftertaste brings forth its alcoholic warmth.

Medium-bodied and more oily than the Gulf (too soon?). It's about average in terms of drinkability for an 8%, but it's unlikely I would drink a second bottle in the same sitting. Barrel-aged brews in general tend to be un-sessionable.

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Photo of Rutager
3.62/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure why, but I'm always suspicious about the product when I see such fancy packaging...

Appearance. Pours a dark brown, almost black with a very thin tan head.

Smell. Old peaty whiskey, sweet milk chocolate, molasses and roasty dark malts.

Taste. Smokey old wood and whiskey (not in a hot way), lightly sweet chocolate, some sour old coffee, roasty grains and molasses.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium carbonation.

Overall. Smells nice. Big smokey roasty flavours, but not especially enjoyable flavours in the base beer to compliment.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had Ola Dubh 18 on tap at ChurchKey in DC. 4 oz pour in a 9 oz snifter. Ola Dubh 18 is all malt, wood and bitterness. No subtlety. I didn't particularly like it.

A: Black with big 15 mm head. Great looking beer! 4.5

S: Smells like smoke and whiskey. 4

T: Malty with bitterness and woodiness. Malt. Bitter. Wood. Not much else. I don't particularly like it. 3.5

M: A llittle flat. 3

O: 3.5

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Photo of emagana
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Impressive bottle that makes the beer look like you need to buy. Pours a tar black but thin. Brown lingering head. Scents of licorice and dark chocolate. Smoke smokey notes but not overpowering. Starts off thin on the tongue. Maybe because I'm use to the imperial stouts. That have lots of residual sugars. Smokey taste right off the bat and a lingering licorice. After taste. Alcohol not very high but I do get bourbon notes as well. It seems like there is something missing but I can't put my finger on it. Overall I would suggest trying another for it's price tag is not worth the taste. My opinion.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 330 mL bottle into snifter. Brewed Jan 2009. Bottle # 9938.
A: Pours a very dark brown with faint dark tan head that quickly recedes.
S: Dark dried fruit (e.g. raisin), whiskey, dark sweet caramel, and hint of alcohol.
T: Follows aroma fairly closely, but actually a tad weaker.
M: Medium body, but much lighter than you'd expect from the taste notes. Smooth and slightly oily feel. Not much alcohol burn (I'd expect more from 8%). Very flat with essentially no carbonation.
D: A decent drinking brew, but I'll be honest it was a bit of a disappointment. I was looking for something in the ballpark of Rye-on-Rye, but it ended up being its weakling little bro. Perhaps time has taken too much of a toll on this one.

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Photo of JaredWolgemuth
3.66/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"I think my clothes are gonna smell"...that is the first comment made on the smokey flavor of this super dark beer. If you like campfire type smoke this one is for you. Solid taste the whole way through, the dark molasses look drinks easier than it looks.

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Photo of corby112
3.67/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even the slightest bit of lighter color when held to a light source and a one finger beige head that slowly fades into a thin ring.

Silky chocolate aroma with a touch of smokey malt, vanilla, earthy oak, bourbon, toffee and lactic cream. There is a perfect amount of barrel presence in the nose providing earthy oak, subtle vanilla and coconut balancing out the roasted malt, burnt toast and coffee bean notes.

Slightly chewy medium body with a very prominent whiskey barrel presence that overtakes the roasted dark malt presence. Underneath there is a very faint viscous chocolate malt character with hints of espresso bean, toffee, oatmeal and burnt toast. The complex balance suggested in the nose is missing here with an overwhelming bourbon presence. Very hot and sweet overpowering the subtle vanilla, caramel and toffee notes. This beer improves as it warms but overall the bourbon is too strong, overpowering the other flavors.

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Photo of beerdrifter
3.71/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up at a great little beer store in Arlon, Belgium, Miorge Mihoublon. An aggressive pour yields a deep dark brown, nearly black body with a quickly fading caramel-colored one finger head with decent lacing. The nose is very sweet and malt forward initially with hints of caramel, molasses, dark chocolate, and mocha. As it warms, subtle hints of smokey peat emerge. The taste is much more peaty right from the start. Also getting hints of espresso, mocha, caramel, dark fruit, cola, molasses, and prunes. The mouthfeel is slightly thin for the style with light carbonation and a syrupy sweet finish. Overall, this was kind of disappointing. It wasn't as flavorful as I had expected and the peat was too overpowering for my taste.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.72/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

09/11/10- Had this one on-tap at Jackie O's barrel-aged release party.
A: Black, a few bubbles is all.
S: Malts, roasted and charred characteristics, nice mild wood and alcohol.
T: Very smokey, bacon finish, clean scotch and wood, roasted nuts.
M: Thin, not very carbonated.
D: Very good.

Tastes a lot like smooth scotch.

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Photo of brycemc
3.73/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

July 2011, bottle number 71190, cellar temp (~55 F). Drank from a goblet. Mostly aged at cellar temp, but it probably spent 6 months or so in a box in the office at some point.

Look: Poured deep black into a goblet. Small 1" head after a vigorous pour dissipated very quickly, leaving a sticky lacing ring of head around the edges.

Smell: Surprisingly mild. I get definite woody notes, burnt sugar, maybe a bit of coffee. Something a bit spicy too.

Taste: Wow. Lots going on here. Burnt sugar dominates, with a carbon character (not bad though). Front pallet has a very slightly vinous character, as does the mid, like most old ales. Get wood and whiskey slightly on the back end, with just a hint of the alcohol. LONG finish, developing into vanilla/brown sugar, with the burnt character remaining.

Mouthfeel: Typical of an old ale, thinner, but with enough body to carry the big flavors. Not unpleasant, would personally prefer a bit bigger, but this feels right for the ale. As it warms, it's getting bigger.

This is a unique one, and I'm enjoying it. I need to get a current vintage soon to compare, as it seems this one still has tons of potential left; I feel like I could have aged it another couple years at least, but without something recent to compare, not sure.

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Photo of ATPete
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle, ridiculous price tag.

Pours a very deep brown color with a small brown head. Booming whiskey notes right off the bat, burnt malt and wood, vanilla and whiffs of alcohol. The booze looms while tasting the brew as well, lots of prune/plum fruit, iodine, charred wood/ash. Complex but just a bit off, heavy medium in body, low carbonation and very easy to drink.

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Photo of bobhits
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Very clean and lacking strong aromas. Light oak and sugars vanilla and butter scotch elements. Very clean through the smell.

Carbonated but bubbles eventually are only around the brim of the glass and faded. Looks high abv though all bottles are 8%.

Very clean flavor much like the aroma and even look. This is much like you’d expect an 18 year scotch. Clean and smooth flavors, but unlike an 18 year old scotch this isn’t scotch. Beer looses flavor when it is simple and smooth. Ultimately this is lacking in character from the 12 year and greatly lacking in flavor.

The lack of carbonation here is really hurting this beer. It’s almost flat and it isn’t flavorful enough for this lack of carbonation.

A good beer but it needs more barrel or more sweetness. It lacks both.

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Photo of eat
3.77/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown body with wisps of beige head. Fairly plain looking.

Complex nose: pumpernickle, dried cherries, demerarra sugar, slight scotch (though not too much). Quite bready.

Darkly flavoured: dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, earthy hops, grainy whiskey, a little smoke. Pretty nice but I'd like some more supporting malt. A little too boozy as well, could use some more age. The scotch element is nicely incorporated.

Could definitely be thicker bodied, especially given the name. Medium body with low carbonation. The feel is almost a little silky, which isn't too fitting here.

While this might be the best example of scotch-barrel aging I've tried, it's not approaching mind-blowing status. It's a good stout but at this price there are quite a few others I'd rather buy. From what I've heard, I'm just going to bite the bullet and shell out for the good stuff (30 and 40) next time I run into these.

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Photo of Zythophile
3.78/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle Date: April 2013
Palate Contaminants: other beer

The look is very dark brown with minimal head. There's a slight amount of light around the edges.

The smell is rich olive oil. I'm having trouble getting anything else, but it is good for olive oil. After a few minutes I can pick out some rye bread, but it's rye bread soaked in olive oil. I just don't know that it's what I want in a brew.

Taste comes most of the way back to the beer realm. In addition to rye, there are charred figs and prunes. In the back end, the barrel makes an appearance, but fortunately it's relatively minor. Mexican-characteristic cocoa powder, too. It could be a bit more dynamic, but I'm not super disappointed, just a little let down. (And how long is this supposed to age? The label says it's been 45 months, and most of that time has not been in my fridge.)

The feel is a little thinner than I expected, and I would wish for a little more carbonation, but it's not far off being pretty good.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.78/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have had the privileged to have both the 18 and the 40 year on cask recently, and I am here to tell you that they are completely different beers and I have no idea why the 18 is rated higher than the 40, it should not be.

Served on cask at Churchkey in D.C. Beer poured into a snifter. Black, dark black, no head or carbonation, not to be expected for this kind of beer in a cask.

Smell is a little off putting. It is complex, sweet malt, alcohol, chocolate / cocoa, some roast / wood on the end of the nose. The smell prepares you for a warm, musty beer.

Wood definitely present in the flavor. Sweetness and alcohol. Some back of the mouth roast leads to an unfortunate albeit slight aftertaste.

If you get an opportunity to try these beers they are worth it, the 40 is the best though.

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Photo of bnes09
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First of all, I love the idea of aging in scotch barrels. Pours a dense black liquid with peanut butter brown head. Leaves a ring around the liquid and forms some nice lacing.

Rich, smoky, sausage-like aroma. Almost like a mild rauchbier. Subtle toasty notes of burnt wheat and corn. Hint of wood.

Palate imparts delicate roasted tones of toasted bread grains, roasted peanuts and burnt molasses. Smoked meat adds a kick to the senses. Earthy hops fail to assert themselves as their flavor resembles that of the malt. Just the slightest touch of wood and scotch flavor without a strong bite. Finishes on the dry side and fairly clean. Slightly off-balanced. It seems to need a little more sweetness (and possibly a balancing hop character.)

Sturdy body. Slightly under-carbonated. Leaves a gritty texture on the tongue well after drinking.

Overall, an A for effort and originality but it doesn't succeed in all areas for me. I would prefer more pronounced flavors, a better balance and no gritty after texture.

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Photo of 1Nrwyscotch
3.81/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Look: It is almost black with a maybe a 1/4 light brown head with what I thought was an aggressive pour.
Smell: I'm dealing with some sinus issues so all I get is malt and alcohol.
Taste: Malt dominates and the whiskey barrel is definitely there but just accenting the flavor, subtle whiskey flavor.
Feel: Its light bodied.
Overall: It is interesting but I personally would like more barrel flavor. I find it very easy drinking with some solid malt flavor with a touch of the whiskey barrel.

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Photo of Richardberg
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - poured into a pint glass from a bottle labeled Jan '09. Dark fizzy head is small, no lacing or retention to speak of. Beautiful deep mahogany liquid, though, opaque save for ruby fringing.

S - oaky vanilla, toffee, smoky peat, milk chocolate, roasty malt, fig

T - fairly one-note flavor for such an interesting and complex beer (in both production & aroma). You've got the sweet chocolatey malt and the whiskey barrel, but that's about it.

M - surprisingly thin given the bottle description. At least it's got a decent oily character.

D - one advantage of the less-than-full body & flavor is that you could actually session this beer. Taken in that context the combo of smells and flavors is simply fantastic. However the rarity & price makes that more of a pipe dream...

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Photo of khmel
3.83/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: A black, opaque pour with a bit of translucence around the edges. Pours a dense, tan head that dissipates fairly quickly to a ring. Doesn't have the "thick" look.

S: Smokey malt, hints of whiskey.

T: Smokey malt, leather, definite whiskey flavor in the finish. Really nice. 4

M: Incredibly smooth and creamy. A whiskey slippery almost. Medium to light body but glides down. A little alcohol warmth in the finish, but not dry. The mouthfeel is the highlight of this beer. You don't even want to swallow it it's so nice.

O: Really great! This beer is solidly outstanding and will be greatly appreciated by whiskey lovers.

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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
4.2 out of 5 based on 444 ratings.
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