Fancy Beer Edition – Harviestoun Ola Dubh 40 Special Reserve

Beer in a box. You just know any beer that comes in a fancy box has to be good:

Nope, not a '40"...unless you're referring to a 40 year old single malt whisky

Perhaps you’ve heard of the beer “Old Engine Oil?” Well, this is Old Engine Oil, with the difference being that this iteration spent considerable time in oak barrels that had previously been used to mature Highland Park 40 year old single malt whisky. The bottle is numbered, and refers to both a head brewer, and a “Master of Wood.” Slightly under 12 ounces, this bottle will likely set you back around $15 – I don’t remember exactly what I paid for it, but I think it was in that range. This one weighs in at 8% ABV – big, but not so big that it’ll make you clear your calendar the next day. 

Poured into a big brandy snifter, it looks nice and dark, though not as viscous as its name Ola Dubh (“Black Oil”) would suggest. Minimal foam. Oh, I forgot to mention, this was bottled in January 2009, so it’s a little over two years old. 

Wow, just a ton of whisky in the aroma. Massive earthy/peat going on, without being quite as smoky as I thought it might be. Sometimes these whisky-barrel beers come off as smoke bombs, but I suspect the two years of sitting around had something to do with toning the smoky phenolics down. Equal parts chocolate and sweetened coffee after the whisky. Excellent.

Yeah. Now this is not a beer for anyone who dislikes the taste of a good Scotch, because it’s there. You definitely get much of the taste of the 40 year old Highland Park these barrels once held. Earthy with a hint of pepper and char, then mid-palate the actual base beer takes over and a wave of decadent dark chocolate washes over the tongue. Caramel-vanilla and barrel char again, in the long finish and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a beer of this stature; especially when it was a little cold, I felt like I was drinking a 5.5% Bock or something. Sometimes barrel-aging does that, but I’m still going to call it a slight weakness.

This could be paired with many desserts, or even a good cigar, but I’d almost feel as if I’m not giving the beer its proper due. For me, this is one you pour into a snifter and savor while listening to some tunes (or in this case, writing a blog)

My rating:
Appearance 3.5
Aroma 5.0
Taste 5.0
Mouthfeel 3.0
Overall Impression 4.5
Weighted Average 4.63

Beer Advocate 4.30
Ratebeer 3.98/99/100
(these are excellent scores, by the way!)

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3 Responses to Fancy Beer Edition – Harviestoun Ola Dubh 40 Special Reserve

  1. Arwen says:

    Sounds heavenly!

  2. WineGoddess1 says:

    Oh like how you said if you do not care for whiskey, you probably will not like this. Sounds good but probably not for me. 🙂

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