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

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Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)
Very Good
201 Ratings
Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks)

Brewed by:
Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 10-27-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 182
Reviews by cbilek06:
Photo of cbilek06
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Dark brown almost black, tan head that dissipates to a small ring around the glass

S - Vanilla, Sweet, Chocolate, whiskey

T - Dark Chocolate, sweet, mellow at first, but alcohol aftertaste.

M - Sticky

D - Full bodied beer, a tasty after dinner drink, something maybe to share as the alcohol content is 8%. Alcohol bite and stickiness lowers the drinkability but still, overall a great beer.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This is a nice brown in color with some pretty ruby highlights. The modest, brown head showed good retention.

Smell – This nose has tons of dried fruit. The plums, apricots, dates, and other dark fruits are enormous. The alcohol is gigantic as well. The “whiskey” notes are more like sherry.

Taste – The flavor follows the nose. The big fruits roar to life as the beer warms. The booze is prominent but doesn’t sting. The malts play more of a supporting role.

Mouthfeel – This Old Ale is medium to full in the body with a mild alcohol sting and a very sweet, “dried fruit” kind of finish.

Drinkability – This is a terrific sipping ale that’s almost like an after-dinner drink. Even though it has a fairly big body it isn’t filling at all and makes a great aperitif or dessert.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.36/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You can really pick out the wood and scoth aromas, along with some chocolate/caramel notes. Very complex.
Poured with zero head. Dark brown to black. A tad of the scotch whiskey and wood come through in the flavor. Some chocolate. Something about it rubs me wrong. It actually has a bit of sourness to it. Worth a try. Interesting to say the least.

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Photo of merlin48
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On cask at Rich-O's Public House in New Albany, Indiana. Review from notes of a few weeks ago. Looks dark and opaque, with a small cocoa head that hangs around for several minutes. Minimal lacing.
Aroma is of Scotch whisky, peaty smoke, and a hint of floral hops.
Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with expected low carbonation. Vinous feel is apparent.
Taste is smooth, creamy with dark fruits that are mostly dates and figs. A hint of chocolate and some charcoal smoke are noticed. Very vinous in the low carbonation. Finishes dry with a good balance.
A very interesting take on an old ale. Invergordon Scotch whisky is very prominent in this one. Definitely worthwhile, especially on cask.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.64/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

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Photo of far333
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark brown, nearly black. Okay, it's black. An inch of tight, light brown foam rises up, and settles quickly to a thin cap with a bubbly ring around the inside of the glass. Aroma is chocolately, with hints of malt and cherry, plus some malty biscuit. Mouthfeel is a bit watery and thin, with moderate to low carbonation. Flavor is a bit tangy, bordering on sour. Tiny bits of chocolate and caramel come out, but these are mostly taken over by a tart cherry flavor. A whiskey flavor comes through in the finish, but I can't tell if it's real or if I'm imagining because I expect it. The tart cherry flavor lingers. Webs of sticky lace dot the glass. Definitely not as good as the original.

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Photo of danend
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma : Lot's of vanilla and bourbon. Some dark fruits, malt sweetness, a little chocolate, raisins...Not too much hops in the nose. No harsh alcohol but a little alcoholic sweetness.

Appearance : Very dark, but clear when held to the light, a small tan head that lingers. Some lacing down the sides.

Flavor : Much like the aroma; vanilla, bourbon, some chocolate and roasted malts, dark fruity flavors, some caramel. Lot's of good stuff here.

Mouthfeel : Pretty full bodied, but not overly so. Finishes roasty with a little sweetness. Nicely carbonated.

Overall : A very nice old ale, has all of the dark characteristics I look for without being over the top in alcohol content. I wish I had another.

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Photo of ADR
3.47/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown with red light transmission at the bottom. Flat creamy head of 1/4 inch, decent duration, and leaving spotty laces. Aroma is nice, rum-like molasses combines with a fleshy fruit sensation. Low carbonation and flattish mouthfeel, a little too sweet at first. Flavors are initially prune danish, raisin, with a lot of caramalized sugar going on. The finish is the most dissappointing, the body seems to evaporate and leaves nothing but an overly sweet fruit cake impression behind. If possible, this seems even sweeter than the original is, and that's one that pushes it to me.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 2002

This beer pours a very dark brown, almost black. The thick light brown head fades very slowly, leaving many laces.

This beer has a pleasent whiskey aroma. It also smells slightly sour. It has a malty caramel like aroma also. It has a slight chocolate like aroma as well.

This beer has a sour flavor. The whiskey is present in the flavor. It is malty tasting. I get some vanila flavors also. Chocolate flavors make a slight apperaence.

This beer is quite full bodied. It goes down surprisingly smooth, leaving a whiskey like aftertaste.

I dont know how good of a session beer this would make. It is rather aggressively flavored. The alcohol content is surprisingly low however, so if you could handle the flavor for a while, it might be good. I am glad that I got a chance to try this retired beer.

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Photo of schoon
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of stereosforgeeks
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Well the name said it. Oil, however, it's not old oil. There was a finger sized head, but it was only around for a minute.

Aroma - Roasted chocolate and fruitcake. The whiskey and some oak can be sensed mildly in the nose.

Taste - First off you have the roasted chocolate with the malts. Then you have the fruits and some slight tanginess. Lastly, the roasted chocolate returns with whiskey and oak for a dry finish.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied yet silky.

Drinkability - This goes down smooth

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Photo of Ecliptica
2.29/5  rDev -40.8%
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.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a nonic)

A- This beer has a dark black body with a cinnamon tan head that is mostly made up of big bubbles. There is no sign of carbonation or light in the body.

S- The smell of chocolate malt and roasted black malt has a nice sweetness to it. There are notes of graham cracker with some brown sugar hints. As the beer warms there is a caramel malt note that gets stronger.

T- The coffee roasted malt flavor is soon overpowered by chocolate malt and most of that flavor is milk chocolate. There is a sweet oaky tan that is strong but balanced with roasted malt and graham notes. The finish has the oak hanging on and a green bitterness.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a thick sticky quality that increases as the beer warms.

D- This beer is a big sweet malty beer with nice big but not overpowering oak flavors.

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Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of DagFishHead
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Damned-near black, dark ruby-brown pour. Huge, frothy chocolate-milkshake head with bountiful thick/creamy lace. Gorgeous.
Smell: Peat, toasty chocolate malt, espresso, licorace, molasses, dark ripe fruits... very complex. Reminiscent of an imperial stout. Definite alcohol whiff.
Taste & Mouthfeel: Rich, chewy sweet molasses malt start,
Subdued carbonation delivers a gentle tingle that mingles with the warm ABV glow. Sustained sweet plum, raisin, prune, date aftertaste.
Drinkability: Sustained sweetness and alcohol a bit big for more than one at a time... checked this review against my review of original OEO and am happy with the differences. Nice winter sipper.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.6/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The bottle I have lists the alcohol at 8.0% ABV. Everything else is identical.
Thank you Secret Santa numenor1 for this bottle. I absolutely LOVE Old Ales and this is turning into no exception.
Pours like it's namesake....black oil...with a coffee colored full finger head that melts slowly to sticky lacing.
Aroma is surprisingly chocolate initially then some molasas and vanilla..no doubt from the whisky cask aging.
A very complex and different flavor for an old ale but without losing it's identity. Chocolate, vanilla, burnt dark malt and a touch of alcohol on the tail-end. After you swallow some hops come into play drying your mouth keeping it from getting sticky and cloying and putting a bit of a bitter taste after you swallow making the alcohol more prominent.
This ale is very well balanced and extremely complex and incredibly enjoyable.
Thanks, Patrick.

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Photo of RomanW70
3.83/5  rDev -1%
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

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

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Photo of cokes
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Virtually black with just traces of purple where the light is allowed to penetrate. Small but enduring tan lacing.
Nose is full of chocolate, candied plums, brown sugar, and oak.
Begins sweet and stays that way. Much like the original, but different too. Molasses and plums are primary. Apricots are featured as well. So is brown sugar-coated tobacco and gooey green raisins. Some of that unmistakeable whisky tang too. Woodiness enters as this struggles to dry itself out. Herbal, tea-leaf hopping is dwarfed by the sweetness.
Lighter than medium body with stunted carbonation.
When the sweet tooth is nagging, I'll go for this again. And only then.
Unbalanced and unique and better than the standard edition.

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Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a roasted barley and coffee nose. Exceptional smooth chocolate and porter stouty concoction that was great after a dairy meal, like a good coffee without the coffee. This is not a transition beer, it is for those who can appreciate this style. A non-Shelton Bros. import, and a hard one to find in the Northeast.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a single at Steve's Liquor here in Madison a month or two ago. Bottled in 2002, some real vintage stock here apparently.

Pours an, I dunno...engine oil black with a spotty coating of chocolate foam that dies in an instant. Smell is pungent: the whiskey cask woody aroma dominates with undertones of chocolate, and sour dark fruits. Taste follows a similar pattern, heavy on the whiskey barrel, some slight chocolate undertones, and lambic-sour fruit. This is some complex stuff here. It is heavy on the whiskey/wood, maybe a little unbalanced, but still an interesting drink. Definitely a one and done for me but worth the try if you can still find it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The appearance of the Special Reserve isn't that much different from the standard Old Engine Oil, but there is less head to it - and it's more big-bubbled as opposed to the creamy light-tan cap normally found. The lace about the glass is also a bit more restrained as well.

The aroma remains the same with notes of toffee, dark fruit, roasted malts and light candy as well as a distinct oaky woodiness and perhaps a touch of vanilla. Alcohol, but not particularily that of whiskey, is present as well.

It's much thinner in the mouthfeel than the standard Old Engine Oil, but that may be due to in part to its more limited carbonation.

The flavor is also not as sweet, and I wonder if it's undergone some minor additional fermentation, or more likely, the whiskey flavors that are present are somehow dampening its maltiness. The fruitiness is slightly elevated, and seems a bit wine-like. Toffee and a subtle brush of chocolate flavor comes through towards the finish; and it actually seems to sweeten a bit in the aftertaste as the whiskey fades. Subtle notes of smokiness and drying oak arise, and it finishes surprisingly clean and reminiscent of a single malt whiskey. Towards the end of the glass, the peatiness even starts to lay on the palate. It's nice, but at the same time it doesn't quite work with the dark-fruit flavors.

There are trade-offs to everything, and this is no exception. The aroma is beautiful, and has certainly been enhanced by its oak-aging; but the balance of flavors seems to be hindered. And as such, that also hurts its drinkability.

I hate to say it, but stick with the standard version... it's better.

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Photo of beerluvr
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Large tan finely bubbled head settling over deep dark garnet liquid. Strong and oily rich malt whisky/oaky nose with a pinch of dark fruits. Flavors of woodiness, peat, tanginess with undertones of malt and some chocolate. Finishes on a bittersweet tangy note. Very unusual...can't say I'd try this one again though.
Thanks to ppoitras for the bottle though!

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Photo of Jon
4.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Jet black with reddish tints at the edges. Settles to a thin tan head with respectable lacing ability.

Complex aroma features hints of caramel, charred oak, vanilla, dark fruit (raisin) esters, coffee, and whisky.

Profoundly flavorful, notes of chocolate, coffee, smoke, dark fruit, toasty oak and faint vanilla are quite evident. A lenghty, mildly acidic finish caps this one off. The whisky barrel flavors are well-integrated.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Full-bodied and complex.

Though it possesses substantial body, its alcohol content is not through the roof, nor are the whisky and oak-aged elements over done. Vastly appealing, challenging, yet quite drinkable. As one who's becoming a bit jaded with the trend of barrel-aged beer (outside of the lambic and Flemish Red categories), this is even better than expected.

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Photo of russpowell
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8% abv offering pours mahogany with 2+ fingers of mocha colored head from an amber colored bottle. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Vanilla & oakyness & a hint of booze

T: Chocolate, oaky dryness & vanilla notes up front. A hint of booze, charred wood & licorice in the middle as this warms. Finishes dry, warming boozey, with a hint of figs, & whisky

MF: Medium bodied, oily & silky with low carbonation

Drinks pretty easy, an old ale that makes use of maximum flavor, where's the Christmas pudding??? I guess this could pass as bourbon stout with little trouble

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Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 201 ratings