Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16

Reviewed by on January 25, 2016 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery

  • Origin: Hillfoots Village, Scotland

  • Rated On: January 25, 2016

  • Best Before: June 2017

  • ABV: 8.0%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Barrel-Aged Porter

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

The Scottish people, and others who are simply just into such things, will be celebrating the life and work of one Robert Burns today, by honouring his birthday with boiled sheep stomach, turnips and potatoes, and yes, likely Scotch whisky.  So, to add our two cents to the whole deal, we present to you this Scottish-made porter (pronounced ‘o-la doof’), which was aged in oak barrels that formerly held Highland Park’s 16 year-old Single Malt.

This 330ml, black foil-capped bottle pours a deep, practically opaque dark brown used oil colour, with a ton of foamy and rocky beige head, which settles in the glass at the three finger mark, slowly receding to eventually reveal a pleasant curtain of ragged lace around the glass.

It smells of densely toasted caramel malt, light, slightly acrid peaty smoke, bittersweet chocolate, earthy, dry coffee, muddled musty black fruit, and a bit of bristling metallic alcohol. The taste is singed caramel malt, hard toffee, more less-than-sweet chocolate, woody, grainy oak, some vegetal, boozy vanilla, fig and date-like dark fruit, reduced brown sugar, and a suggestion of a softly peaty dram of Scotch whisky chaser. The carbonation is quite reserved, just a meek frothiness to be found at most, the body a sturdy medium-heavy weight, while becoming smooth and creamy as if on cue. It finishes a tad drier than I might have been expecting, with the latent earthy hops actually discernible over the potent malt, wood, peat, and alk-ee-hall.

It seems that the Ola Dubhs steeped in relatively younger Highland Park barrels exhibit significantly fewer pungent ocean-side characteristics, which, in the end, renders this a nicely balanced barrel-aged ale. That’s not to say that the North Sea doesn’t well inform this one, another splendid re-jiggering of the base Old Engine Oil – it certainly does.  Happy 257th, dear auld Rabbie!

Brady White

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