OLA DUBH – Special 30 Reserve

Written by Wenchie. Posted in Beer Evaluations

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OLA DUBH – Special 30 Reserve

Published on November 11, 2008 with 3 Comments

I love making friends. And I love love love taking care of and showing appreciation for my friends. In fact, I would do almost anything within reason for a friend.

And I never expect or demand any sort of reciprocation. In fact, I typically am awkward about accepting gifts. Unless of course, these gifts involve beer. In those circumstances I tend to overcome my gift receiving insecurities and weird mental complexes.

This past weekend I hosted a party for a good friend of mine who was visiting from Napa, CA. To show his appreciation, he awarded me with a Harviestoun OLA DUBH Special 30 Reserve.


DISCLAIMER: I will not be tasting and reviewing OLA DUBH at this moment. HOWEVER, when I do … I will most definitely blog about it. Since this is a limited edition ale brewed in very small batches, I have made the executive Beer Wench decision to hold it for a special (or spontaneous) occasion!

What I would like to do, though, is talk a little bit about the brewery and share the story behind OLA DUBH!


According to Harviestoun, Ola Dubh translates literally to “Black Oil.” Although not 100% certain, I have come to the conclusion that Ola Dubh is Gaelic. (I know Dubh = Black, and I assume Ola = Oil). Since Harviestoun is located in Scotland, my assumption is probably accurate.

Ola Dubh is so named because it is gloopy and viscous (just like oil).

Ola Dubh Ale is the result of a unique collaboration between Scottland’s “most innovative micro-brewery” and “the world’s most respected single malt.” (Source: Harviestoun)

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The range comprises of Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12, Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 and culminates with Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 – “perhaps the ultimate whiskey cask matured ale.” This limited release has been aged in selected Oak Casks formerly used to mature the award-winning Highland Park 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. The casks add complementary whiskey notes to what is already an amazing brew; it is extremely chocolatey with a distinctive roasty, bittersweet finish. (Source: Harviestoun)


Every bottle of Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 is individually numbered and labeled BY HAND. My Ola Dubh is number 5121 and was bottled in September 2007.



Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30, ABV 8%

Appearance: Deep brown with a burgundy flush; a rich, rocky head the colour of milled oatmeal.

Aroma: Gently finessed top notes of fresh heather and honey; subtly toasted malts; vanilla and balancing hints of red fruits; distant and beguiling smoke.

Palate: Elegantly subtle development of wine-like notes, through bitter chocolate and espresso beans, to a sustained, oaked conclusion.

Finish: Elegant. Extended and oaky. Pine resin and juniper. Perfumer honey and traces of peat.



We can’t pretend this is just a job. We love beer. We really mean love. It’s our work, our play, and our passion. Heck, we’d probably bath in it – if that didn’t seem a bit of a waste of a few good pints.

We don’t do things the way everyone else does. We learned traditional brewing skills and then scoured the world for the best ingredients to use in our custom-built brewery. We craft beers by hand – but we like to be innovative. If we make it light – it’s really light; if we make it dark, well, it’s not called Old Engine Oil for nothing!

We won’t use additives. Even in ancient times there was some weird stuff put into beer (tree-bark anybody?). We only use the finest quality barley, wheat, hops, yeast and water, and unlike some other brewers, we don’t use hop concentrates- just the whole flower as grown by Mother Nature.

Our beers are also bottled using less carbon dioxide – resulting in a more natural tasting beer.

We shouldn’t boast, but we’re really good at brewing. We mean exceptionally good, and it’s not only us who thinks so. Just have a look at all the nice awards people keep giving us.



Highland Park is one of the world’s most respected single malts. When American drinks guru F. Paul Pacult published a list of the top 110 spirits in the world, Highland Park 18 Year Old was at the top of the list. That’s a tough one to beat. However, in 2007 Highland Park was named Distiller of the Year at the San Franscisco International Spirits Competition. These accolades are no fluke; respect has to be earned and more than 200 years of distilling tradition, attention to detail and honesty at Highland Park achieves just that. (Source: Harviestoun)

“Our whiskey is made with the same enduring belief and integrity, to the same exacting standards, as it has been since 1798. That’s why it is the most respected single malt in the world. Like Harviestoun we are passionate about tradition and obsessed by quality.” - John Craig, Global Controller, Highland Park



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There are currently 3 Comments on OLA DUBH – Special 30 Reserve. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. I had a chance to try that when I was in Maine last month. It is most delicious.

  2. WoW! You must have done something awful special :)
    It sounds like a mouthwatering dessert, too good to be true. Call me when you decide to open it, I’ll just take a whiff and you can dab a drizzle on my salivating tongue!

  3. Hello,
    I am having a Harviestoun Ola Dubh cask event at my bar in NYC on the 28th of January, 4 casks will be poured through 4 cask engines.
    The Beers: 12, 18, 30, and 40 year olds Thats the age of the whiskey casks not the beer of course.
    Rattle ‘N’ Hum Craft Beer Bar
    14 East 33rd Street
    NY 10016
    [email protected]

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