Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16
Reviewed by Brady White on January 25, 2016 in Winter Guide
- 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 !!
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!