Total Score: 6.8/10
I’ve been a fan of Harviestoun since 2001 when I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked in a bar that sold Old Engine Oil on those awesome bicep-building pull taps (I could have sworn that beer used to be 9% ABV). Fast forward to 2018 and sitting in front of me is a lot of memories packaged neatly in a 330ml bottle. This is Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Sherry Cask. A Black Ale aged in Highland Park sherry casks. The bottle no. is 25937, and the date on it is April 2015, so it’s had over 3 years in the bottle (including 6 months in the cask). I’m also a big fan of Highland Park whiskey too – though I’m a bit wary about the aging in sherry casks: Highland Park is already soft and sweet enough, hopefully the aging in the bottle will have mellowed out my preconceived sweetness somewhat.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: Not quite black, more like a “she sips a Coca Cola, she can’t tell the difference yet” coloured body, with thin tan soap bubbles where a head would normally reside [at least this one is carbed bro!]. Looks alright though, a classic 7/10.
S: Woah. More smoky bacon hickory goodness than an American BBQ Association get together. Actually just Googled if such a thing does exist – American BBQ Association – and thank the internet it does. Really hard to get past those smoky, charry, bacon and hickory notes – at this stage I’m predicting the little info-gram pics above to be: Smoke, Bacon, Wood. Pretty singular stuff. 7/10.
T: Flavour takes the above: smoky, charry, bacon and hickory – and then it dumps peat all over it… and I mean ALL OVER IT. Profile is peat from start to finish, he’s a nice guy but jeez Peat get over yourself! Look if I had to guess I would say the original, non-peated, version of this has a delightful dark fruit and brown sugar character and finishes sweet with a slight medicinal herb bitterness [which is my go-to description of many a Dark Ale]. However there’s very little room for anything else in this peat bog of a brew. Smoky = this. 7/10.
M: Mouthfeel is also a bit of a letdown coming from Harviestoun [who I know can produce great textured beers] with a mid to light, thin bodied and thin carbed feel. You can do better Harviestoun! 5/10.
D: With a BB date of 11/18 maybe I’m cutting it fine? All I know is this is one smoky brew, and peaty AF, plus it’s one-dimensional. It’s hard to have any dimension when peat is involved, which is why I respect + love Ardbeg so much. 7/10.
Food match: Sipping this with cigars, maybe throw in some dark chocolate too.