Sunday, 6 November 2016

Ola Dubh

Origin: UK | Date: 2009 | ABV: 8% | On The Beer Nut: February 2010

With the blog turning a year old tomorrow it's time to get started on a new season of Stash Killing. Harviestoun Ola Dubh is based on the brewery's classic dark ale Old Engine Oil and has been aged in barrels that previously contained Highland Park 12-year-old single malt whisky. Other versions using older casks are also available. I was a little put out by the marker pen phenols in this when I first tasted it so was interested to find out if seven years in the stash would smooth that out.

And yes, it does. What I was expecting next is the lovely rich chocolate flavours to come pouring out, spiced up with some whisky heat, but that's not what happened. While there's a distinct honey-and-vanilla whisky aroma, the flavour is very muted, verging on bland. There's a mild whisky taste at the front, and a touch of bitter tarry coffee, but the whole taste fades out very quickly. I think that's because the base beer doesn't have the body to carry it: this is startlingly thin for the strength. I guess this is why brewers tend to use bigger beers when they're doing the barrel thing.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the beer, but it hasn't picked up any extra complexities through ageing and has quite possibly lost a few. I was surprised to see the brewery had put a mere three-year best-before on it, but perhaps this is why. Drink 'em if you've got 'em.


  1. I've got some bottles of these from last year in my garage. I was gonna keep it as long as possible. May be I wont bother.

    1. I have another that's a few years younger and I was tempted to open it straight after this to see if it was any different. But again, couldn't be bothered.