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Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 review

Ola Dubh 12 review – amazing ale aged in whisky casks

This is probably the greatest, or at least one of the greatest ales I have ever tasted. Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 comes from the Harviestoun Brewery in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. Based in the town of Alva, their brewing story began in 1983 – known for beers like Schiehallion Lager and Old Engine Oil Ale, they have made their mark in brewing history. But it’s the making of “whisky beer”, which has probably lifted this brewery into the group of legends. Yes, by “whisky beer” I mean beer aged in whisky casks, like this Ola Dubh 12. Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 is their Old Engine Oil Ale, which has been matured in whisky casks previously held Highland Park 12yo single malt whisky in them.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 review | Matured in Highland Park whisky casks

The Old Engine Oil is a great 6% ABV chocolatey ale, even without whisky influence. But with Highland Park cask influence the quality of the ale becomes amazing. This is definitely the best ale I’ve ever had, if not even the best beer I’ve ever had. The Ola Dubh range has also Ola Dubh 16 and 18 – matured with the same principle, in Highland Park 16yo and 18yo whisky casks.

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 by Harviestoun

Ola Dubh means “black oil” in Gaelic it was conceived in 2007. Like black oil surely looks like, not only one of the best ales but also one of the darkest ales I’ve ever tried. Ola Dubh is first ale matured in whisky casks from a named distillery, with traceable casks. Each bottle is numbered and dated – signed by the Harviestoun head brewer and the “master of wood”.

Ola Dubh 12 is made with Old Engine Oil ale amped up to 10.5%, then aged for 6 months in HP12. The ale is being bottled with 8% ABV level (10.5% enjoyed from the cask or keg). Hops used are Galena, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles. So like stated, this is an amazing ale. The nice roasted, chocolate notes of award winning Old Engine Oil get a nice touch of good single malt whisky.

Matured in:
6 months in casks formerly held Highland Park 12yo single malt whisky
IBU: 40
Colour: Very dark brown, almost black
Nose: Coffee beans and vanilla, wee smoke with roasted malt.
Taste: Roasted caramel with a hint of whisky notes. Dark chocolate and toasted malt resembling malted rye. Slightly bitter aftertaste. Amazing smooth beer in great balance.

Ola Dubh 12 Scoring

Superb ale.

10 Every great aspect of Harviestoun ale upgraded with great whisky influence.

Brewery: Harviestoun Brand: Ola Dubh ABV: 8%
Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom
Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.

1 Comment

  1. […] yet very sweet. Infact it’s über sweet. I would have preferred it to be more like Ola Dubh – dark roasted whisky influenced beer. Instead it is overly sweet, even though the whisky […]

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