Harviestoun “Ola Dubh” Special Reserve 16
Harviestoun Brewery, Alva
Style: Old Ale
Purchased at 99 Bottles. $10 for 12oz Bottle
In the attached description the name Ola Dubh means “Black Oil”, which I didn’t know but seems sadly appropriate to the times. This bottle is the Special Reserve 16 and the beer was aged in oak casks formerly used to mature Highland Park’s 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Bottle Number 06666 bottled on Jan 2009
Aroma: This beer presents itself to the nose with chocolate nibs, vanilla and oak. While not over powering, there is an ever present Bourbon aroma supporting all other aromatics. Faint alcohol spice pushes through. No hop aroma.
Appearance: Entirely black body with a fine but persistent coating of a brown head. Good lacing along the sides of the glass
Flavor: Bourbon and alcohol tartness, along with charred oak touch the tongue with surprising delicacy upfront. Chocolate sweetness is quite prevalent throughout with a hint of alcoholic spice toward the middle. What I keep thinking of Bourbon, but is actually Scotch (from the bottle description) shows up again toward the end before the flavor drops nearly to nothing in the finish where the beer leaves you with a warming alcoholic burn in the lightly sweet finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body with low carbonation. Malt sweetness becomes lightly sticky on the tongue and lips, though it is not slick or chewy. Alcoholic warmth dries out the tongue and burns the back of the throat just enough to let you know there’s been some barrel aging going on here.
Overall: Though I know appearances aren’t everything, this beer comes off a lot lighter than I expected in body and flavor. When I considered the oil black appearance and reasonably rich nose with the oak and whisky presence, I would hope for a fuller body and more complex flavor profile. A higher chocolate presence would be welcome and better mouthfeel would round this beer out nicely. Aroma represents the Scotch Whisky barrel aging very well and at 8% ABV, the beer drinks incredibly smooth and gives you something to think about with each sip. Though at $10 for a 12oz bottle, it’s a bit overpriced. I suppose being shipped from Scotland I’d have to expect the premium price.
I rated this beer a “B” on BeerAdvocate.