Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery (Alva, Scotland)
Style: Old Ale
Alcohol: 8% ABV
Recently, I reviewed Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16, an old ale from Scotland that is aged in oak barrels that were responsible for the grand flavours of Highland Park’s 16-year-old single malt whisky. The result? Pretty damn phenomenal, really.
With Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30, the folks at Harviestoun worked with Highland Park to get their hands on oak barrels that once aged 30-year-old single malt whisky. As a whisky lover, I have to admit I’d like to get my hands on the whisky that came out of those barrels, but the beers coming out of them are of the awesome variety, as well. So now that I’ve tried the Ola Dubh 16, let’s move on to the Ola Dubh 30.
My 330mL bottle came boxed from the LCBO, and as its “black oil” name suggests, it pours almost black with a thin tan head that doesn’t stick around very long. There’s not any light coming through the black brew, except right at the edges of the very top of the beer. It’s quite the dark beer, and it looks rich.
More complex in aromas than the Ola Dubh 16, the 30 has rich notes of vanilla, chocolate, possibly a bit licorice, and even some strong hints of whisky. There’s a lot going on in the nose with this beer, and it’s making me pine for a good, old single malt Scotch whisky. It also makes me want a chocolately stout. You can’t beat the aroma on this beer.
Rich in flavour and body, the Ola Dubh 30 fills the mouth with chocolate, espresso, cocoa, vanilla, roasted malts and clear traces of single malt whisky. Bitter and deep in character, the 30 is a deliciously complex brew that obviously picked up at least some of its flavours from the Highland Park barrels. Quite tasty. And the tastes linger on the palate for minutes afterwards.
Here I thought the 16 was a great beer, but the 30 is even better. Rich. Complex. Beautiful flavours and aromas that stay with you. You can’t go wrong with the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30. As with the 16, keep in mind that the ABV is higher than typical beer, even though there’s not really an alcohol bite. Kick back with this beer at home and don’t plan on driving anywhere afterwards.