Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Ola Dubh

Ola Dubh (pronounced oh-la doo) means "black oil", in Gaelic, and the beer - a collaboration between Harviestoun brewery and Highland Park whisky distillery - does a pretty good impression of the stuff. The beer takes something similar to Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil, which I once described as a "tar-black, stout-like beer", and allows it to spend some quality time in ex-Highland Park whisky barrels. The effect - remarkable and life-enhancing - is similar to that produced by BrewDog's Paradoxes (see here and here). This particular expression was Ola Dubh 12, which means the casks previously contained HP 12-year-old, and not (I hope) that the beer was matured for more than a decade. The other variants of OD are the 16 and 30 (watch spaces). But back to the 12, which was 8% abv, viscous-rich and dark/oily/smoky/bitter, perfectly balanced by flavours of sweet treacle and chocolate, and concluding with a gloriously whiskyish finish. Here, more than usual, one bottle was plenty. Joyfully, cheese experts have recommended pairing Ola Dubh with one of my favourite fromages, Comté; an aged French gruyereColston Basset stilton is also mentioned as a potential suitor, and just the thought of combining beer, whisky and cheese in one sitting is enough to leave me quite dribbly.


  1. I love Highland Park 12 year-old. I am also very fond of Old Engine Oil. But this beer doesn't work for me. It just seems to inject a slightly unpleasant sweetness to a gorgeous porter.
    I have a similar view of the Paradox expressions I've tried. The exception is Paradox Smokehead, where the peat adds a completely new dimension to the beer.

  2. I would certainly agree there's a sweetness, but unpleasant? No - this is a dessert drink for kings.