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Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) - Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

198 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 198
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 16.02%
Wants: 8
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
English Porter |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 10-27-2003)
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Ratings: 198 | Reviews: 182 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of goethean


4.9/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

21 Dec 2007 review:

Served in a Gordon Highland Scotch ale thistle glass. Sharp aroma of roasted barley and the mellow aroma of malt. the first sip is reminiscient of grapes, of all things. there is a slight hop bite at the end of the first sip --- unexpected for a five-year-old scottish stout --- but in later sips, the hops are no longer detectable. the middle is just pure roasted fruity malty goodness with hints of butterscotch, oxidation, wininess, ethanol. It's not as hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-two-by-four *massive* or as mouth-filling or as demanding of a beer as, say, Bell's Expedition Stout. It's an English, restrained version of a full-bodied, complex, aged, imperial stout.

If you are a true malt-head (hopheads beware!), this could well be among your favorite beers, as it is mine. The only way that I can think of this beer being improved is through the addition of some brettanomyces.

14 Aug 2009 review:

2002 vintage. 58F in pub glass. Brown bread, blackened plums, ethanol. Slight sour tang. Molasses, cough syrup. A wine-like driness. Typical english barleywine flavor, similar to Young's Old Nick. Extremely drinkable, except for the price.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2009 01:57:22 | More by goethean
Photo of coldmeat23


4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours black. A thin head of dark brown foam forms, then quickly dissipates. Lacing is in small, slightly sticky, spots.

There's no hiding the whiskey scent in this one. Big oak notes and a nice level of peat smokiness. Nice notes of dark caramels and blackstrap molasses. Dark fruit notes, predominantly fig, as well.

It's not quite GI BCS level, but the whiskey flavor is dominant. Massive oak and smoke notes. Big dark roasted malt profile. Dark caramels, molasses and dark fruits are here. A light touch of leather. Very slight hint of acrid bitterness. Lightly warming.

Not nearly as 'big and thick' as expected. A solid medium-bodied brew, for sure, but could benefit from a little more fullness. Low carbonation level gives a nice smoothness, but lacks in creaminess.

It's smooth enough to be drinkable, certainly. The whiskey notes and 8.0%abv would keep most people away from more than one, or maybe two, at a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2009 03:08:32 | More by coldmeat23
Photo of Yetiman420


3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Unibroue tulip glass.

58 degrees spring cellar temp; perhaps flirting with a bit too warm.

Pours very dark, almost black with a light chocolate milk head that subsides leaving little to no lacing.

Aroma is musty with malt notes. Much lower than expectations for a barrel-aged beer.

Flavor comes through much better than initial aroma. Rolls across the tounge with a rich and silky finish and flavor finishes with a really nice mild whiskey flavor.

No sour, acidity, or funk which are historic possibilities with this style (damn).

Picking up the mustiness flavor from the aroma early in the sip. Not an expert, but I suspect this may be a case of oxidation (per the style description). Has a cardboard quality to the flavor at points.

A beer with a nice end flavor and finish, but the aroma is a drawback.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2009 02:33:47 | More by Yetiman420
Photo of tmoneyba


4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Dilly Deli.

Poured dark reddish brown color with full brown head that diminished slowly with good lacing. Heavy aroma of caramel, nuts and troasted malt. Medium to full body with sticky texture. Medium toasted sweet balanced flavor with a medium sweet finish of long duration.

My expectations were met.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2009 17:53:21 | More by tmoneyba
Photo of barleywinefiend


4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up this gem at Wine Expo in SM, CA.
Poured a very dark brownish with good carbonation. Nose is vanilla,cocoa, whiskey and some oakiness. Taste of coffee, oak, whisky, vanilla and cocoa. Strong alcohol burn hurts drinkability. Nice and smooth mouthfeel despite a thinner than anticipate body. Really good brew!

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2009 20:18:14 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of BasementDweller


4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wonderful little beer. Pours a deep brown without a head to speak of. Smells of whisk(e)y, smoked wood chips, caramel and toffee. Big on the alcohol. Sweet notes up front of caramel, bourbon, and chocolate. It kind of tastes like one of those Kahlua chocolates you find at the liquor store counter around the holidays. Feels like engine oil on the palate (how appropriate), almost a cloying syrupy taste that you'd expect from something with the name Old Engine Oil. Great beer. I'll definitely be enjoying this one again.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2008 21:04:08 | More by BasementDweller
Photo of LilBeerDoctor

New York

3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 8/25/08. Bottle, 2002 vintage. Pours a dark brown with no real head, just some bubbles. Not as thick texture-wise as the regular version. Aroma strongly of alcohol, along with chocolate, molasses, and sweet malt. Flavor is quite different from the original version. No roasted notes at all, just lots of light fruitiness (apple), sweetness, and some almost tart-like sour notes similar to those from a Flanders sour. Not cloying though and the alcohol does not dominate but rather blends nicely with the malt (one of the best whiskey-aged beers I've had). Reserved in flavor, definitely not as "hot" as I had expected. The palate is smooth but wears a bit as you drink. This took me awhile to get through but it was still quite enjoyable. Is it better than Old Engine Oil? Well, it's quite different and in my mind they were about the same in quality but had quite different flavor profiles.
7/3/8/4/16 (3.8/5)

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2008 19:30:44 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great big pillowy head is colored like the flaky crust you get after toasting a marshmallow. Thins to a half-skim of honeycombed bubbles on top of, yep, old engine oil. Black and thick and murky.

Smells wonderful, not quite as whisky-like as expected. That's there, as is an ancient woodiness, but luckily the old ale itself shines through recalling dark fruits and the deepest red wine touched by milk chocolate, dark chocolate and a hint of coffee.

Flavor starts out chocolate-y sweet, like a big-ass American stout, with a super-slick texture surprisingly light in weight. Very, very slick. Mellow carbonation too, perfect for what's happening in the flavor. A toffee/caramel-like maltiness opens up in the middle, introducing a sweet kiss from the whisky barrel flavor. I appreciate that this element is a mere enhancement and not a dominant force as in other (unbalanced) barrel-aged beers. Some dark fruit; some fresh, warm, moist dark bread. Curious twist of black licorice in the finish--the hardcore, intense, uber-flavorful black licorice usually sold in hard form, the stuff many Europeans love and most Americans hate. It adds a great bit of depth to this beguiling ale.

Wonderful stuff. Harviestoun sure knows how to weird-up an old ale. The best thing I've had from them so far. A seductive, complex, flavorful sipper.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2008 23:14:50 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of magictrokini


3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours black with a ring of tan bubbles. Chocolate malt with peat, smoke, and creosote in the nose. Viscous, flat mouthfeel. More chocolate and peat in the taste, joined by smoked malt, some caramel, and vanilla. It was brought down a little by the soy and over-done molasses flavors. Funny how the malt whiskey barrels did not improve this beer. Still, it is a good beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2008 22:24:05 | More by magictrokini
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged in malt whiskey barrels.

A: Poured a dark opaque color with a sudsy and bubbly 1 finger cherry-tan head that was mostly lasting through the course of the drink.

S: barrel woodiness and a very light whiskey scent, citrus, darken caramel and a spicy darken molasses notes.

T: There was a huge sweet molasses and caramel flavor and backing along with dried cherries. There was a noticeable acrid bitterness and huge burnt roasted malt lacing on the tongue. The flavor was sweet darken molasses, burnt brown sugar, dry bakers chocolate with noticeable whiskey hints. The whiskey barrel aging added great woody complexity (oaky vanilla hints) and a nice dryness to the finish.

M: creamy and smooth with a bit of slickness.

D: very smooth and silky going down with a rich dark nature makes you not want to put the bottle down.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2008 21:16:16 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of JohnGalt1


3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle.. It's been in the cellar for probably for a year now.. Poured into my Chimay goblet...

2 finger head... rocky foam.. big bubble cap.. brew is viscous black.

Nose is chocolate and scotch whiskey.. raisins and lite figs.. cocoa..

Big smokey whiskey in the front. like a porter with a dram of scotch.. dark malts with a bunch of yeasty fruitiness.... dried cherries with plum and prunes.. smokey EtOH.. chocolate with fruity malts.. very complex.. a little bit of soy sauce as it warms. Lighter than expected body.. but.. still very smooth.

interesting.. but. outta whack.. even with a year in the bottle... I like bourbon ... but scotch has never been my thing ... and this has massive scotch overtones especially as it hits room temperature


Serving type: bottle

11-02-2008 07:06:51 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of bluemoonswoon


4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finishing off the Old Engine Oils I've had in the fridge for the pas couple of days. It's weird seeing the general rating on this, as barrel aging only seems to help a beer, let's see what's happening in this one.

Doesn't smell too much different from the plain old engine oil to be honest, which is good because Old Engine Oil smells great, the problem is that I don't really smell any barrel aging influence on this beer. Ahh, there's the barrel again, I say to myself after taking the first sip, but again it tastes much like Old Engine Oil, but with a tad less sweetness. More peatiness, a bit of smoke but still maintaining a bit of sweet smoothness with only whiffs of whiskey or bourbon, which is interesting to see in a barrel aged beer because most of the time that's all you can taste, so this was a nice understatement to encounter. Less lactose and more tobacco in this version, with a bit of a chewier mouthfeel. The depth of this beer is something to behold, not quite sure why it's not rated as high or equal to the regular Old Engine Oil, I think the barrel aging takes away a bit of the complexity, or covers up some of the complexity that this beer would otherwise display.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2008 03:29:19 | More by bluemoonswoon
Photo of bbothen


3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep dark black with a small tiny bubbled head.

Smells of sweet malts, whiskey, wet wood, faint vanilla, tobacco, sugary. Nice.

Sweet, fruity, triple bock like, whiskey & oak, sugary sweet in the end.

Smooth, little carbonation, syrupy, full, warming.

Interesting beer here. Glad I tried it. Won't be rushing back to try it again, but nice experience. Good warmed for a winter evening, or day.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2008 02:27:04 | More by bbothen
Photo of WetCoaster


3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: As advertised, quite a bit like old engine oil. Deep, nearly opaque mahogany with a hint of an off-white head.

Smell: Having a tough time getting a read on this one, which might be due in part to the fact that our neighbor must be burning a redwood in his fireplace. Sweet and malty, that's about all I'm getting.

Taste: Quite nice, although it's not a flavor I'd necessarily associate with an old ale. Deep, rich, chocolatey, with vanilla and roasty malt flavors. Tastes a bit more like a strong porter to me.

Mouthfeel is great. Silky smooth, on the thick side, nice and coating.

Drinkability: Very pleasant after dinner, but a bit sweet and heavy for more than one.

Liked it quite a bit, but it seems off-the-mark for the style.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2008 04:42:46 | More by WetCoaster
Photo of champ103


4.28/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark black with a little ruby around the edges. A two finger tan head forms and recedes to leave some light lace.
S: Chocolate, molasses, and coffee dominate. A big malty aroma that has a lot of warm whiskey notes.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of malty chocolate and coffee and plenty of whiskey.
M/D: A full body that is rich and creamy. The alcohol shows a bit, but this is a great sipping beer.

Like all the beers in this series, this is great. There is more of a whiskey feeling in this version, and less of a peaty flavor than in the other Ola Dubh beers though. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2008 20:13:26 | More by champ103
Photo of Derek

British Columbia (Canada)

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Black with a tan head, very little retention, some leg/lace.

S: Huge malty nose: chocolate, dark bread; sour cherry, molasses, wood, alcohol.

T: Plenty of chocolate, very woody, with flavours of molasses, licorice & spice. A hint of cardboard-like oxidation. A warm whiskey finish.

M: Full body is a little chalky, but still smooth.

D: It's a sipper.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2008 23:42:34 | More by Derek
Photo of ClockworkOrange


3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into my La Fin Du Monde chalice an extremely dark brown with about a finger of tan head. Smells of chocolate, whiskey, molasses and caramel. Tastes of cocoa powder, caramel malts and smooth whiskey followed by a slight alcohol burn on the tongue and back of the throat. Mouthfeel is thick, smooth and slightly rich with medium carbonation. This was a pleasure to sip on for the better part of an hour. I'd seek this out again.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2008 15:58:42 | More by ClockworkOrange
Photo of tmitch75


4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at cellar temp into an oversized wine glass. BLACK color with thin brown head.

Chocolate smell with oak and vanilla from the whiskey. A bit of a boozy smell too.

Dark bitter chocolate with roasty espresso, vanilla, oak, and whiskey. The whiskey is obvious but not overpowering... just one part of a very complex flavor profile.

Full bodied, creamy and smooth.

An awesome beer well worth seeking out if necessary. Very complex and a real treat.

Tasted on 5/3/08.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2008 05:08:38 | More by tmitch75
Photo of Buebie


4.55/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on cask last night at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul

It arrived to the table with a 1 finger dark brown cola fizzy head. The head fizzled down to a thin layer ontop of the beer that never really went away. The laceing was slight to none.
Aroma was of Whisky, smoke and chocolate malt.

Upon tasting I got huge hit of buetiful quality whisky. The whisky did not overpower it really mingled and matched the smae amoung of dark beer flavor. Good amount of smokey oak in there and dark malty sweetness. Hints of cocoa, coffee and hops lingering after the swallow. The tinge of hops hung around on my tounge after the swallow as did that smoked malty goodness.

Some alcahol warming from the whisky.
This was a very well balanced beer, some might find the higher levels of whisky annoying, but I loved it.
This was medium thickness in mouthfeel. Nothin though campered with a russian imperial.
Carbonation was mildly present, this was exceptionally smooth. Swishing the snifter really brought the head back in full effect.

This beer was pretty spendy though, and limited me to only drinking one.
Cost was $10 for about 10-12 ounces.

Serving type: cask

06-04-2008 01:22:04 | More by Buebie
Photo of kkipple

South Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

*This bottle is of indeterminate age, but we're confident it's well over a year old.

A. A deep rich brown with a tiny toasty head that redefines skimpy. Thick.

S. Very malty and "pure" smelling upfront. Blended notes of chocolate, coffee, powdery dry cocoa and of course the signature whiskey smoke-booze that shines through. Lush but a little harsh -- I've had better bottles of this.

T. Burnt roasted bittersweet grain, whiskey complexity with a hint of smoke, coffee and chocolate. The oak is quite noticeable but blends well with everything else. A tad astringent, the roast and alcohol lingers on the tongue. Bitter. More boozy than I recall; age has not been entirely kind to this bottle. Rich and reminds me of a boozed-up chocolate cake.

M. Thick and smooth, slick. Coating. Mid-low carbonation. Bittersweet and scotchy finish.

This is a good beer, preferred it when it was fresher months ago.It's still a fine beer and a wonderful example of whiskey aging. A must for scotch lovers and rich, dark English beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2008 00:04:34 | More by kkipple
Photo of paco1029384756


3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour is very deep ruby brown, almost black, with very little carbonation.

Scent is primarily strong sugars, molasses, and scotch whiskey, malts come through in the background.

Taste is of sweet scotch whiskey and malts, with a subtle hoppy bitterness, and molasses on the finish.

Tart mouthfeel, but smooth from lack of carbonation.

Drinkability is decent, nothing special to mention here.

I enjoyed this beer, but I tried to make my review unbiased. I love a good scotch, but aging beer in scotch casks seems to be a bit more of an art form than aging in bourbon barrels. I believe Harviestoun has quite an accomplishment here, but I would have liked some more carbonation.

While drinking this beer, it almost felt flat, but it has a tremendous character and lives up to its name in color and mouthfeel. I commend Harviestoun for creating this beer and would enjoy trying their other beers in the future.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2008 03:13:37 | More by paco1029384756
Photo of RomanW70

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black with a darkish tan head. Aroma of whisky, molasses, and roast. Taste starts wout with dark sweet mailts that moves into a strong whisky finish. Nice beer, but whisy flavor dominates here. Thick mouthfeel with medium/low carbonation

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2008 02:29:53 | More by RomanW70
Photo of abedenbaugh

South Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A:The name fits very well with how the beer looks. It's very dark, almost opaque with a touch of red when you look through the shallow areas. The head is dark brown but falls quickly.
S:Has an intense sweet roasty malt aroma with some dark chocolate in there. A little bit of whiskey and coffee, too.
T:Very roasty flavor and it's slightly sweet. There is alittle bit of a sherry flavor and a slight warming alcohol sensation after the finish.
MF:Smooth feeling in the mouth with low to mid carbonation.
D:A good drinking beer with a good deal of complexity in flavor.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2008 21:44:08 | More by abedenbaugh
Photo of Ecliptica


2.1/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Wow. That's all I can really say. I'm very, very surprised this is rated so highly and I only pray I got a bad bottle, because this stuff was nearly intolerable. I expected some really good things from this brew because Harviestoun has never really let me down before, but this was just terrible.

Poured the brew from the 11.2 oz. bottle into a pint glass and it poured almost perfectly. Beautiful black with ruby tints and a gorgeous tan head that left a quickly dissipating lace behind.

The smell, too, was exceptional - I even gave it a perfect rating. It smelled delicious, roasted malts, a rich chocolate, and a hint of whiskey and oak gave it a very complex and delightful smell.

Now, if it tasted as good as it smelled, this would be the best beer ever. No such luck. The brew was way too sour and bitter for my liking - almost like a stale coffee. I could hardly taste any hint of chocolate and the burnt malts left a dry, stale aftertaste.

The mouthfeel was entirely too acidic, even for a beer with 8.0% ABV. Either something was wrong with this batch or it normally tastes this bitter, but I was very surprised as to how much of a bite this thing had. It was just god-awful.

As far as drinkability. . .::sigh::. . .I could BARELY finish it and I really didn't even want to had it not been for my buddy (who also tried and hated it) insisting that I had to drink it all to give it a fair rating. It probably only hurt it worse. I hate to disagree with everyone on the site - especially the Bros - but this is the worst beer I've had in months, and probably in my bottom five all-time. I think I'd rather drink the Engine Oil itself.

Serving type: bottle

05-01-2008 03:28:43 | More by Ecliptica
Photo of gford217


3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black with mahogany tint around the edges. Very thin bubbly tan head that dissipates almost immediately leaving minimal lacing.

S: Tough to get around the boozy whiskey smell of this one. There is definitely a toffee, chocolate smell along with the roasted malt aroma, but it really comes back to the whiskey for me.

T: Big, nice, complex taste where the whiskey doesn't dominate as much as the nose. Big roasted chocolate malt taste up front with some caramel and coffee in there as well. The whiskey is present throughout but isn't overpowering.

M: Creamy mouthfeel with very little carbonation and a nice malt whiskey burn.

D: The whiskey is certainly present in this one so the drinkability isn't extremely high. All in all, a decent representation of an old ale with a serious whiskey kick.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2008 01:39:39 | More by gford217
Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
87 out of 100 based on 198 ratings.