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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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Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 182
Photo of RblWthACoz
5/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours an opaque black with a thick tan head. As I was pouring this, the word "gorgeous" hit my mind. Like the beer soul I possess deep down, the nose spoke out. Strong malty wood with thicker cocoa qualities and an overall roasted character. Flavor is rich with chocolate character and a strong malt flavor. So meaty and earthy I almost want to start chewing it as I drink it. Feel is great. Small level of bubble and a nice smooth and thick liquid feel.

I am shocked. Last night I tried the standard Old Engine Oil and had slightly higher expectations for this one. But geez. In no way did I expect to be hit with only my 2nd flat 5 rating as of yet. Unbelievable. Blows the hell out of the standard Old Engine Oil...and most other brews at that too.

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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.

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

A- Black. If held up to the light, it is clear. Tan head that settles to a ring and decent layer, and leaves a slight lace.

S- Roasted pecans, sweet malt, alcohol, dates, raisins, smells so wonderful...

T- Reading the BJCP guidelines, it nails them. All night. Sweet and nutty, fruity... dates, oak, caramel, barley, roasted pecans, molasses, chocolate, vanilla extract, alcohol, whiskey... this ale is to beer what port is to wine. Flavor lasts forever. And stays the same.

M- Thick and chewy, but not syrupy. Low carbonation, with some lingering warmth from the alcohol.

D- I think there really is something to the "availability affects impression" argument. After having about twenty of these... they're wonderful. Even amazing. But the drinkability cannot get a five. It just can't. They're too expensive and too complex and too... port-like. You can't eat several pounds of chocolate. And you can't drink a whole lot of this beer. BUT, you should drink some. You ought to try it. Do yourself a favor.

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Photo of SilentSabre
4.85/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! THIS is my favourite style of brew. Malt, malt and more malt. Sooo chocolately. Sooo good. Pours a dark, rich brown that ends up being black in your glass. Almost no head at all. The smell is absolutely amazing. A little bit of grapefruit. A ton of chocolate. The fact that it's aged in scotch barrels is very very faintly hidden down there in the smell, as well. The taste. Oh my. The taste is very strong of chocolate with a little bit of spice to it. It also seems to be a wee bit higher abv than just 6.0%. The mouth feel is good, but even though there is very very little carbonation, it has a carbonated feel to it just a little bit. This stuff is so awsome, if you like dark, heavy, chocolatey brews that is. Easily one of the, if not THE best brew I have ever had.

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Photo of Trueant1
4.82/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When I opened the bottle, the smell waifted so strong throuth the air, I KNEW this would be special. I then brought out my favorte chalice!

Pours black. Sits in glass black. Very little head. A thin coating. Looks like a very serious stout!

Smells come right out of the bottle when opening! Chocolate rum cake! Then, oak, vanila, and gummy bear type candy flavors. The Wiskey comes through in the smell and flavors. The flavors are the same as the smells...just way more intence!

This beer is so velvety smooth but at the same time so intence in flavor. Should be all 5's!


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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.8/5  rDev +24%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aroma is simply heavenly - rich and "stouty" with strong smoky and coffee undertones, as well as a sharp alcohol nip. It pours a deep, opaque sable with a thick tan head. Flavor is strong and smoky, with some bitterness but not too much. It is very smooth, yet goes down somewhat like strong liquor - you know exactly where it is in your esophagus. Perhaps this comes from being aged in single-malt whisky barrels.

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Photo of Phatz
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have yet to find a charred Old Ale I don't like. I am a big fan of the style. This is no exception. And on top of that I love the barrel aged especially Whisky Barrel beers. This one is worth an arm and a leg.

Appearance: Pours almost motor oil black with suggestion of deep ruby hues in the color.

Smell: Roasty roasty roasty malty, oak and vanilla, chocolate, caramel, coffee alcohol and hints of fruits fill the nasal cavity.

Taste: The malty backbone is so smooth and creamy it effortlessly delivers a rush of burnt chocolate molasses, caramel, figs, oak, vanilla, cherry and coffee wrapped up in a dryish boozy body that really catches you by surprise. The aftertaste has a subtle suggestion of whiskey. Just enough to be notable.

Mouthfeel: Very rich creamy and smooth! Feels big and alcoholic in the mouth but certainly malty and chewy medium body is a pleasure.

Drinkability: If only I could get a hold of more of this beer I would drink cases! I have never seen the Special Reserve before and may never again (as it appears to be retired). Nonetheless, it is currently available at Monk's Café in Philly and I may need to try and stock up on some there.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of OldTime
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%

Photo of gwood
4.68/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've been wanting to try this brew for quite some time now and as luck would have it, there was some at my doorstep today when I came home.

This beer really is quite sexy. Pours just like it's name, like oil, thick and black like it was bubbling up outa the ground. A half inch dark tan head peaked and then subsided to a thin film that laced down my snifter in pockets.

Smells of chocolate, heavy roasted malts, oak, whiskey, and sweet candy came trough in droves, just smells great. Taste is just full of sweet and doughy malts and bittersweet chocolate that transitions to a lingering oaky sweet finish that warms the tongue all the way down to the gut and everything in between. Some alky burning is present but mellows as the beer warms. After only five or so sips feel this one coming on but it goes down so silky smooth that there's no point in rushing it. Like I said, I've been waiting on this one and I wasn't disappointed, truely one of the best in the style that I've had to date.

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Photo of mjc410
4.64/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The pour into my La Moneuse tulip raises a one finger dark tan head that's full of large bubbles. The lacing is sudsy but sticky. Head retention is not that great - it falls slowly to a glass ring and surface bubbles. The beer appears to have really high viscosity. The beer suffers no light - even at the extreme edges of the glass. The nose only seems to have a slight whisky aroma - it seems rather more full still of molasses, caramel, a bit of coffee, and some sweet chocolate scents. Amazing, though! The taste is still quite sweet, with a bit of woodiness and smoke from the whisky. It manages to finish fairly dry, with a lingering smoke/coffee taste. All eight percent ABV is present both in the taste and in a stick-to-the-throat warming feeling - this is very enjoyable. The mouthfeel is very thick, true to its name, with virtually no carbonation. Overall, a very drinkable old ale - just not two in a row, because of strength.

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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 Higravity
4.56/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

For an avid scotch and whiskey man this was a treat. It looked like the name says and was very fragarant in my DT snifter. It smelled of oak and whiskey, dark throws of alcohol with some a fresh flower sweetness all sitting atop deep roasted malt. The taste was everything, by far the best whiseyed beer I have ever had. Bourbony, with soft roasted bitterness, poppy flower and vanilla rise in the aftermath. Dense and soft body, very drinkable as a one timer, something to be savored for sure.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle, tasted side by side with the original Old Engine Oil to taste the nuance and differences and also the similarities, listed at 8.0% alc/vol.

A: Pours a very dark brown/black, with a full tan head, with great lacing, good retention on the head as well.

S: As opposed to the original, the nose of this is mostly Scotch and peat, some woody and resiny characteristics as well.

T: The whisky barrel aging really makes the already tasty OEO even better. Mild dark chocolate starts off the flavour, but is kind of blown away by the delicious woody, peaty, raw whisky character, reminiscent in a way of Firestone 11. A nice espresso note ends the beer, fantastically full-flavoured and very tasty.

M: I think the extra alcohol adds some body that the original is lacking, very smooth and silky, though light enough to be easily drunk.

D: This beer is really good. Maybe I'm partial to whisky or whisky aged beers, but I really liked this stuff. Only seen it at Hollingshead's, got to pick up another bottle next time I'm in, much more of a bargain than Firestone 11.

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Photo of bilyboy65
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pilsner style glass.

A: Very dark brown color with no head upon being poured.

S: Is superb mix of malt whiskey barrel and chocolate. Neither over powering the other for an over all smell of sweet whiskey.

T: Is almost as good as the smell. The difference being the malt whiskey over powers the chocolate for an off balanced taste. It isn't a bad taste because the chocolate really accents the whiskey to give the same taste as it smells. That is of a sweet whiskey.

M: No carbonation to distract the taste buds. Very smooth flowing beer as it moves around the tongue.

D: This beer has it all. A fantastic smell that instantly fills the nostrils of sweets, a taste that draws that sweet back with the sharp taste of whiskey. Without the carbonation it goes down very smooth. A beer you can drink a lot of because its not to heavy, but something that should be savored with every sip.

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Photo of NClifestyle
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours nearly black, blood red edges. Smallish, dark tan head of creamy bubbles, leaves a nice, complete layer on top of the darkness beneath.
Very strong smells; almost sweet scotch like, a hint of vanilla or warm sugar.
First taste is strong, bright malt, very sweet and strong. Almost moves into a liquor taste, like burbon, but with beer. I really don't taste any hops, but a touch of burnt in the aftertaste. Some chocolate and coffee
Slick, medium to full in the mouth. Not much in the way of carbonation, but it does give a tingle and a burn, probably due to the alcohol.
I would drink another one of these if I ever come across it, but the strength would keep me from having too many at a time, maybe two at most. Good stuff.


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Photo of jmdrpi
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of Buebie
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
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.

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Photo of DIM
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This is just a degree shy of black, I can see some ruby highlights near the stem. It pours with a huge, frothy, mocha colored head that has decent retention and fantastic lace.

s: The first thing that comes to mind is cherris covered in dark chocolate soaking in brandy. There were also some raw, floral alcohol aromas as well.

t: Very much mirrors the smell, except that the cherry flavors aren't as strong as the smell would suggest. Everything hear is very much in balalnce with the addition of some vanilla flavors as it warms. It has a long dry finish that leaves warming alcohol flavor in it's wake.

m: This has gentle, foamy, mouth-filling carbonation and a thick velvety texture.

d: I didn't realize that I had grabbed the version that was aged in a malt whiskey cask until I was ready to open it. This was a pleasant mistake and a real treat. I'll certainly look for more of these as well as the "naked" version.

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Photo of putnam
4.49/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dense, sticky and tart flavors of molasses, burned sap and sour coffee. Impressive.
Painted with charred nutshells and ochre, the sweetness at the core of this beer is in a life-and-death struggle with pulpy, jammy fruit. Noted: peach, rhubarb, prune and sweat.
Massive, yet dry. Very intense, very long finish.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2oz glass into a St. Feuillian chalice.

A: Pours a dark black with faint ruby-brown at the edges. Tiny dark khaki head recedes immediately to a bubbly, uneven ring that leaves a small amount of lace spots.

S: Delicious aromas of dark fruit, whisky, roasted malt, bitter espresso, dark chocolate, cask char, toffee, cherry, oak/vanilla, roasted nuts, and milk chocolate.

T: Spicy overripe plum, rum soaked raisin, milk chocolate covered cherry, and bitter dark chocolate all hit big in the opening salvo of this beer. After that, my tongue was awash in flavors of whisky, charred wood, caramel/toffee, vanilla, espresso, blackened malt, spicy smoke, and brown sugar/molassas.

M: Thick, smooth, and creamy. Very big and sticky. Starts big and sweet and becomes spicy and dry as the middle leads into the finish. Excellent sweet dark fruit and dry spice linger for a long time after the finish.

D: Incredible! I would liken this as being the closest to the Ola Dubh SR12 in aroma and flavor, but more like the Ola Dubh SR30 in mouthfeel. I can't get enough of these whisky cask aged Harviestoun old ales!

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Photo of Buildscharacter
4.46/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I actually had the special reserve before I tried the original, but I'm glad that I did. It was simply amazing. I don't even like scotch and I loved this beer. It was malty, roasted and had such a unique flavor that you really enjoy sipping and savoring it's flavor.

There's undertones of vanilla and burnt wood that just are excentuated by the wiskey casks that this beer is aged in. Like it's brother in the non-wiskey barrels, it doesn't hold a head, but damn it's tasty.

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Photo of John_M
4.44/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this beer with a friend the other night. We were trying it side by side with the 12 and 16 year old Ola Dubh. Much to my surprise, this beer more then held its own against those two beers.

The beer pours a dark hazy brown color with good head retention and lacing. While the beer looks good, the aroma was incredible. This beer has a huge nose of malt whiskey. It's sweet smelling, but has an incredible spicey scotch aroma. There is plenty of vanilla and butterscoth as well. The beer tastes nearly as good as it smells, though I'm not sure anything could taste that great. This beer is pretty smooth and initially comes across as fairly sweet. There are flavors of butterscotch, butter and honey, but then a nice hoppiness comes in at the end, which cuts the sweetness and gives the beer something of a dry finish. The beer is medium bodied and the abv. pretty well disguised.

This was a pretty impressive beer; much better then I was expecting, and really showing up its more expensive siblings.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

8% ABV as opposed to the 6% listed here.

Pours out a nearly opaque black with ruby/amethyst hues and a creamy, chocolate mousse head that leaves nice lacing. Aroma is a mix of the chocolatey malts, roasted aromas, and a good deal of whisky, giving it large overtones of peat fire and milder undertones of iodine. The wood itself comes out as well, lending "woody" notes (natch) and some vanilla. There is some alcohol in the nose, but I believe it's appropriate. Flavor is up front with the smoke and roast that mix with the chocolate and sweets. As the maltiness takes a back seat in the middle to the finish, warm whisky appears more on the tongue, offering some honey and oak. Finishes a touch sweet with loads of dark dried fruits. Aftertaste is a complex mix of chocolate malt, burnt malt, and smoke. Mouthfeel is chewy, warm, and has a very delicate level of carbonation. Delicious beer, but it is a bit fulsome to be overly drinkable.

What I like about this is that you don't necessarily get a wave of beer and then a wave of whisky, or vice versa, rather the flavors meld together so well as to create an entirely new flavor profile. Recommended.

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Photo of rallison
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note: Bottle says 8% vs the 6% listed here.

Pours a wonderful dark black with a 1/2 finger tan head that leaves some lacing.

Smell is immediately of whisky soaked chocolate and dark fruits. Definite hints of smoky, whisky goodness here. Being a fan of peaty whiskys (Laphroaig, for example), all I can say is this: Yummy!

Taste is delicious. Chocolate, whisky (but not overpowering or muddy), dark fruits, molasses and roasted coffee. Lots of flavors here, but I also enjoy the balance between them. A subtle hint of smokiness at the end. The flavors hint at this being stronger than 8% - such is the wonder of whisky barrel aging I guess!

Mouthfeel is nice and rich, but with an appropriate level of carbonation. Just the right alcohol bite at the end to make this warming.

Drinkability is very nice in my opinion. I could easily drink a few pints of this. Might just be because I love beers like this, but yes, highly drinkable for me at least.

Highly recommended. At only $3 for an imported whisky barrel aged old ale, I'd consider this an excellent deal. I may have to go and pick up some more bottles.

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Photo of BuckSpin
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In celebration of my 300th BA review I dig into my cellar for this special treat:

Presentation: v.2002 11oz bottle (as indicated on the bottle and confirmed by the 6% ABV as well), cellared for over 2 years in my possession, in a thistle glass.

BAside: this was one of my first vintage beer purchases and has travelled a LOT of miles from point of purchase across many states & back again. Its been in that bottle for over 5 years, and its time to enjoy.

Poured thick, oily (duh), very viscous, silent as night. Even pouring straight down its all I can do to get a pencil's worth of very loose latte hued foam, big bubbles that fade rather quickly to a edge ring with some lacing.

Nose is insanely deep, thick with black licorice, warm raisins, pumpernickel rye, yesterday morning's coffee left unpoured from the pot, yet also a dull sweetness with molasses, treacle and dark chocolate tones. Smoke is faint, distant, like campfire ashes damp with dew the next morning, as are any wood qualities...just wonderful to smell & smell.

As it warms it grows sweeter with more pronounced chocolate, some mild phenols, deep roast malts.

The name does the hue justice. While most beers like this border on the deepest burnt umber brown, this one actually does look black, one of the darkest beers I've ever seen. Completely opaque obviously, it has a semi-glossed sheen to it.

Wow....the years have been kind. Its just jungle thick with deep, lush, over ripe fruit like fig, prune, black currant, sour cherry and plump raisin. Its reminding me of the Thomas Hooker Oak Aged Liberator a lot in this regard. There is almost, hell, there is a very noticeable tawny port quality to this that is just lush. This was worth the wait, and is definitely a sipper to be slowly enjoyed at room temperature.

The mouthfeel is oddly thin, yet the taste is oh, so lush....most peculiar, yet furthering the port comparisons. While I know this is the 6% ABV vintage, the alcohol cuts through the thick fruits, adding buoyancy as well as a icy warmth that starts very earlier on the tongue and continues to slowly build. I have no idea what the ABV could be now.

Echoes of molasses, old coffee and leathery, dusty malts fill provide a floor for that whiskeyed fruit quality to dance a Highland gig on. I am sure this would pare fabulously with some Stilton or a similar soft, creamy cheese in bloom.

It transitions to the palate a wee bit softer, rounder, still strong with fruit and a warming glow, finishing amazingly clean, slightly bittersweet, and with a definite warmth.

That was fantastic, a real beer experience. I'm becoming a fan of barrel aged vintages and the wonderful evolution that occurs inside those charred & stained oak slats. If you can still find this I would definitely recommend picking it up and drinking it now. It was a long wait, but definitely worth it.

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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
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