Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh, pronounced “Ola-Doo” (which means “black oil” in Gaelic), was the first Scottish beer to link up with a Scottish whisky producer and create a range of whisky barrel-aged beers.
First released in 2008, Ola Dubh takes Harviestoun’s recipe for their deliciously dark and velvety Old Engine Oil and beefs it up from 6.0% ABV to 10.5% ABV, then leaves it for a few months to mature in old whisky barrels from Highland Park, the highly regarded distillery on Orkney.
Visit To Drink Harviestoun’s Whisky Barrel-Aged Beers The Perfect Combination Of Scottish Beer And Whisky Photo Gallery
There are five expressions in the range, with the beer name referencing the age of the Highland Park whisky that was previously stored in the barrel: 12, 16, 18, 30, and 40. There are also occasional one-off special batches to look out for that come from different barrels.
It’s no surprise that the Ola Dubh 30 and 40 are very rare. They are also some of the most complex and interesting barrel-aged beers you’ll find. These are not thick, syrupy sweet brews; they are intense, dark, woody, spicy, edged with smoke, silky smooth, thought-provoking, engaging, drink-by-the-fireside beers. More commonly you’ll find Ola Dubh 12, 16, and 18, which are all equally excellent and interesting, mixing that rich, chocolatey beer with the fine whiskies to give a warming, bourbon-like depth, coffee, peat smoke, oaky vanilla, and dark dried fruits, with each age revealing different complexities. It’s the perfect Scottish combination and they come together to create an extraordinary drink—it’s even better to have the beer with the corresponding whisky on the side to see just which characteristics are pulled from one to the other.
Harviestoun and Highland Park pioneered the use of Scottish whisky barrel-aging and they are among the best in the world at doing it.