Harviestoun Ola Dubh 18

Without wanting to fall back too much on stereotypes, the Scots know a thing or two about alcohol, and no one does a better porter than Clackmannanshire's Harviestoun. So what happens when you mix two great traditions and put Old Engine Oil in some local whisky barrels? Magic, that's what, in the form of Ola Dubh (pronounced "ola-doo", and meaning black oil). It comes in different forms depending on the wood's previous occupants, and a special trip out to the mecca that is BrewDog Shepherd's Bush has rewarded me with a dash of the Ola Dubh 18, the eldest of the (slightly) more available trio, on keg.

Aged in 18 year old Orkney whisky barrels (Highland Park to be precise, the most northerly of all distilleries) Ola Dubh 18 is a gorgeous golden brown colour, almost opaque. The nose carries hints of burnt toffee and cinnamon, and every so often a waft of pure whisky will emerge, enough to bring a delighted grin to my face. The taste up front is a little lacking being not much more than a standard malty profile with a slight tobacco tang, but this is soon forgotten as the beer hits the back of the throat. That whisky fire is certainly there, but tickles rather than burns as it warms you from the inside out, slipping down oh so smoothly.

The aftertaste mellows to a dark sweetness on top, underpinned with a subtle bitterness on a very long, dry finish that sticks from the roof of the mouth all the way down. To say Ola Dubh 18 is a beer for wannabe whisky drinkers may sound derogatory, but it is not meant as such – rather this is a rich beer that has many of the qualities of a good scotch, just without the fierceness that can put many off. Either way, it is a damn good beer.

Last updated: 20/07/2018 07:46:34

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