What I stumbled upon two weeks ago lead me to make an impulse buy. Apparently, Harviestoun takes their Old Engine Oil and ages it in re-used whiskey casks. There were numbers (12, 16, and 30) attached to the bottles and naturally the prices went up as you went higher. What I came to find out is that the number does not mean that the beer was aging in the barrels for that amount of time, but that the barrels used, housed the Scotch for that length of time. The liquid inside barrels is not the only matter that acquires flavor…the barrels themselves pick up more matured flavors as the whiskey ages. This is simply due to the fact that as temperatures fluctuates the liquid inside expands into and out of the wood. The longer the time the more mature/deeper the flavors.
I’ve had Porters and Stouts aged in re-used Bourbon barrels before. Part of the draw to this beer was that it aged in Scotch whiskey barrels (something I had not experienced before). Ola Dubh means “black oil” and boy does that ring true. As I emptied the bottle it ran out thick, heavy, and black. The appearance is comforting and inviting with a garnet hue on the edges and a dense mocha head coating the glass as you sip.
One of the reasons I love oak aged beers is because the aromas and tastes are multifaceted. My nose picked up a variety of smells such as chocolate, deep roasted grains, smooth oaky notes, plums, pears, fruity alcohol warmth, some earthy/grass highlight (probably from the peat), minor hints of coffee, and some hops.
It is hard to separate the taste from the mouthfeel, because I feel the two co-exist. At first, you are hit with a sweet, high viscosity, liquid that awakens your palate. You get a great sense of the whiskey notes as they provide and support this dark brew. The middle part of the sip is light and floral, while the latter half is filled with deep creamy roasted malts. Although it was thick, my palate was relatively clean and left with a well-balanced array of dark fruits and malts. The 8% ABV was noticeable, but I finished this beer in 15 minutes due to its smoothness. Its bittersweet chocolate quality complement serving it with dessert or as an after dinner drink.
I approached this beer with high expectation and was not disappointed.