Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

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

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
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:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 182
Photo of Rempo
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of thegerm87
1/5  rDev -74.2%

Photo of Frozensoul327
1.45/5  rDev -62.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Oh Jesus... this is hard to drink. Pours out flat. Totally flat. Dark brown / black color. No head. No lace. Aroma is sour and reminds me of A-1 steak sauce. Taste was totally unenjoyable. Harsh flavors of burned and sour malts mixed with poorly fermented grain. Strong element of alcohol. Mouthfeel lingered between watery and oily, neither one sitting well with my stomach. Poor drinkability. This is not for me.... I want my friggin' money back. Not recommended.

 465 characters

Photo of aforbes10
1.49/5  rDev -61.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

pours dark and fairly good looking, although not really thick or anything like engine oil. smells like well drink whisky and sugar...not beer like in any way. and you know what? its not beer-like in taste either. ethanol and crappy whisky flavor. some vanilla. really thin, not at all as the name implies. no roastiness or maltiness, just sickly sweet alcohol flavor that is incredibly hard to choke down. im glad i split to bottle with someone otherwise it wouldn;t have gotten finished.

 488 characters

Photo of joedon
2.12/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I purchased this in hope of finding a beer similar to the "Beam Stout" from Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage. This stuff was a real dissappointment. Thin, watery pour with barely any carbonation and no head. Smell was mostly of burnt malt and a little bit of licorice. Taste was very mediocre; no evidence of any whisky flavor and basically a mediocre porter-like feel.

Not recommended, especially at over $3.00 per bottle! After reading some of the other review, possibly I had an outdated bottle but I'm not willing to try another one to find out.

 550 characters

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.

 1,647 characters

Photo of clickpush
2.31/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

beer is super dark w/ very little carbonation or head - able to fit the whole bottle into my glass where normally only about 2/3-3/4 of a bottle fits. Aroma rises up to me like spiced rum right off the pour, despite the fact that the glass is 2 feet away. The half inch head closes rapidly in on a seductive smattering of lacing and a bit of webbing along the top rim of the glass. Upon closer inspection, the aroma is quite comparable to the Baccardi Silver and Cokes that I used to drink in college. I'm a bit worried/confused about what I just poured out of this *beer* bottle - but hey, let's give the taste a whirl and find out! Whew, quite sweet up front - very 'barrel-y'. Quite a large amount of sweet whiskey remnants in the foreground, but the finish is full of an acidic sourness that I hate to find in my dark beers. Only a very slight indication of roast malt in the back of the mouth - more prominent in the after taste, but does not compensate for the lack up front. Also a lingering flavor of lactic acid in the back of my throat that kills the drinkability. Overall, very disappointed in this one. Carbonation is very smooth, but the acidity really ruins the overall mouthfeel. I realize this one was bottled in 2002, so maybe it's time to get this one off the shelves and into the waste bins, but seriously, bleh!

 1,331 characters

Photo of Ryan011235
2.72/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 11/20/12

The color is a dark, inky brown. I was skeptical about the head; it wasn't until the glass was almost full that loose, lifeless bubbles were buoyed by some rising carbonation. Thin retention overall, but lace is good.

Whiskey jumps right out of the glass when taking a nip for the old nostrils. I'm not sure what kind of whiskey casks were used, but it is on the sweeter order, which ties in with sugary notes of molasses, caramel, chocolate, raisins and prunes. Warmth finds dark fruits creeping into a better view. Moderate wood tones with hints of vanilla.

Old Engine Oil tastes downright odd. The short version is this is one tangy critter. The whiskey has a peat-like bent, while hints of roast walk a haphazard path. I'm glad the sugars are more toasted that sticky sweet with a fair amount of burnt chocolate. The later half and finish find both wood notions and something of an earthy bitterness.

The body is on the burgeoning side of medium. Carbonation is low, which suits me just fine. Whoa, the very last sip has some seriously clumpy stuff going on - yuck.

Overall impression - Not outstanding, but it is a reasonable solid sipper (at least until the last sip). Now, I don't know that it's a $4.99 for a 12oz bottle kind of reasonable, but that's a different tale.

 1,332 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
2.75/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Very Dark pour almost black, no light is getting through this one!
Almost no head develops, very large loose bubbles foam up very briefly. Very strong bourbon aromas and some hint of alcohol aroma as well. A little spicy, maybe black licorice, or just a robust red wine. No hop presence whatsoever. Light carbonation, rich malty flavor some traces of woodiness or oak present. Also a burnt sugar flavor is prominent, which leads to a faint smokiness. The brew is heavy bodied with syrupy qualities. No hop presence in the flavor either. The finish is anything but clean with a thick residue in my mouth along my gums and a medicinal flavor like cough syrup. Not impressed.
Probably wont be getting this one again.

 716 characters

Photo of ngandhi
2.89/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The original OEO is chocolate malt-laden decadence. The Special Reserve is pomp and circumstance. The brew is tainted, not infused, with off-flavors of whiskey that lend an odd green raisin, olive, and old sock nose.

There are some tart vinous qualities on the tongue muted by an overbearing cocoa sweetness. There's an element of pinot noir presented by light notes of (mostly dark) cherry, plum, and loud, loud prune that later comes to dominate the brew. More aggressive and this might be along the lines of a shiraz. But I do not mean to suggest that these flavors characterize the beer; they are secondary and even tertiary components. The longer OEO SR settles, the more the prunes dominate. If you think hard enough, you might get some dried dates as well. It isn't evocative and, after a while, it isn't even pleasant.

I've had scotch aged in sherry and port casks and the good ones always showed their experience (the wood) first, and then showed what they'd learned, how they'd come into their own. While some sour notes in OEO Special Reserve kind of make me think of whiskey, I hardly find it worth the effort. And if these prune notes come out of the aging, then they should have scratched the plans long ago.

The finish is a bit charred, chocolatey, and absolutely delicious when it garners up the strength to punch through the dark stone fruit. Unfortunately, this wholly unbalanced beer gives us no time to enjoy the good stuff.

Relax, relax.

 1,477 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
2.97/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

2002 vintage, from a 33cl bottle purchased from the Wine Exchange, on to the beer:

Poured into an oversized wine glass, the beer is black with almost no carbonation (uhh ohh). The aroma is boozy and hints whisky, vanilla, and dark ripe fruits. Not bad. All right, continuing to the taste. Although the carbonation is nil, there's enough taste to hold my interest. The one advantage of the minmal carbonation here it allows certain flavors to dominate more. A hint of whisky and more dark ripe fruits in the taste, and quite smooth at that. Cocoa appears too. Still, I wish I had a little carbonation here.

The beer was a bit of a let down (was the bottle too old?), however it did compliment my Tipsy Fudge Cake (made with Jack Daniels Whiskey) nicely.

 755 characters

Photo of Hautacam
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 bottle.
Very dark with almost no head.
Smell : box of raisons, box of chalk, box of new shoes....really.
Tastes sweet and tart...licorice, prune,lemon peel, smoke , port..bourbon....some bitter hops...flavors at odds with one another...kind of strange... but interesting.
Mouthfeel is heavy, syrupy...almost no carbonation.
One small one will do....glad I tried it...but won't be looking for it again.

 411 characters

Photo of SeanChouffe
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A deep dark color with red highlights. Head is light brown, weak, and dies quickly. Aroma is of oak, hops, cherries, caramel and some acrid notes. Flavor goes from sweet to acrid: molasses, cherries, caramel and a lasting acidic hop finish. Palate is surprisingly watery with a sour/metallic end.
I tried to be open to the experience, but just didn't get it.

 359 characters

Photo of DogFood11
3.05/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Similar to a stout in appearance. Black core with ruddy brown edges. Mocha head is short lived but mainains a ring cover.

Slight oxidation in the nose but it doesn't make it into the taste. Black liquorice melds nicely with a chocolate malt base. Cask aging may have rounded this baby out but it doesn't come through much in the taste profile. A tart edge to this as it warmed and lost some carbonation. Charred bitterness adds to the finish.

Notes: Its pretty good but once again with the import price tag it better be great to get any further bucks from me and this is just decent.

 590 characters

Photo of mschofield
3.06/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours fitting to the name, for all intents it is black and there is no head to speak of. The aroma leaps out at you, whisky soaked chocolate.
A whisky flavor underneath burnt raisins, a bit of chocolate liquer and licorice.
Flat in the mouth, and thinner than expected.
Not my cup of tea, but I could see people liking this one, it's worth a try.

 349 characters

Photo of RedHaze
3.12/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black with almost no head that quickly recedes to a thin ring that leaves very little lacing.

Smell; the oak and wiskey stand out quite a bit which I like. There's hints of coffee, and alcohol and some sweet dark fruits.

Taste; initially sweet from a the dark fruits and chocolate, followed by a nice woody flavor from the oak barrels and a nice toasted malt backbone. The finish had some nice traces of bourbon that I was really looking forward to, but was to cloying for my tastes. Mouthfeel was a little thinner than I would have liked.

 558 characters

Photo of chefscott79
3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

looks super darkish...with a reddish hue to it...head a pretty tan color

smells...um not too good I like the comparision to soy sauce that someone else described

tastes...Like an old strong porter...honestly I can't say that any flavor struck me? maybe it was the aging process that makes it smooth...but not smooth in a fun way...smooth in a kenny g kinda way....

mouthfeel....creamy and good

drinkability....ehhhh I would drink it again but is not worth the 4 bucks plus I paid for it

 490 characters

Photo of StargherKing
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Saw this one at the liquor store for a mere 2.50 and decided to pick it up after hearing a friend's dad rave about it. Seeing that it's limited, I'm certainly glad I did. Here's hoping I still feel that way after tasting it...pour is a VERY dark black, engine oil would certainly be a fair assessment. Little head, what there is has a cream-colored appearance and hangs around. Smell is almost straight whisky. Hints of chocolate and malt, perhaps, but the whisky overwhelms it. Taste is much more varied. Hints of chocolate and malt, vanilla, hops, and again the whisky. It seems to blend together very well. Mouthfeel is (fittingly enough, I suppose) very oily, but not altogether unpleasant. The feel is almost syrupy, seeming to coat the mouth and throat. Drinkability isn't too bad, especially considering the richness of the beer. I'm not sure I could handle more than one of these in a night without feeling ill. Overall, while I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, I can certainly say that there's a lot to like in this brew. I can't say that I wouldn't hesitate if offered this one again, but it probably wouldn't take long to accept. Perfectly competent beer.

 1,168 characters

Photo of Beerbuddha
3.16/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -Black with some ruby highlights. It looked like oil pouring into my glass hence the name.

Smell - Smell of malts with a hint of caramel. A slight hint of whiskey.

Taste - Same as the nose. Very strong taste to it. Hint of whiskey.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied with slight carbonation. Syrupy is a good word to discribe this.

Drinkability - This is a sipping beer and something I would enjoy more during the cold weather season.

 449 characters

Photo of bzach
3.25/5  rDev -16%

Photo of phisig137
3.27/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Had this down at Capital Ale House in Richmond, from a gravity pour firkin. No pressure, no tap, no hand pump, just good ol' gravity

This pours an absolute black like I have never seen before, with absolutely no carbonation, and room temp. Looks like concentrated evil in a goblet. Absolutely gorgeous, and everything I look for in an Impy stout.

Aroma is hugely alcoholic, with bourbon and sherry notes, with a roasted malt backbone.

Flavor is sweet, malty, vanilla, plums, figs, raisins, caramel, and chocolate, all followed up by a train wreck of booze. This has got to be the booziest (is that a word) beer I've ever had. I think this would be truly phenomenal in about 3 or 4 years, but it's just plain boozy right now.

Mouthfeel truly does feel like old 10W-30. Thick and syrupy in every way possible. Coats your entire mouth, and lingers for a looong time. The Storm King I had after this almost tasted watery in comparison.

Drinkability is low due to the alcohol. This is just way too boozy right now. A good beer all around, but was served before it's time IMO.

 1,087 characters

Photo of WaltTrombone
3.29/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This poured as black as its namesake after 15,000 miles (don't ask how I know this...), with a tan head that disappeared fast. Aromas were whiskey, chocolate, raisin, prune. The first taste seemed kind of sour and lemony, but subsequent sips revealed chocolate, raisin, more lemon, alcohol, coffee, earthy compost.

Mouthfeel was thin, with small astringent carbonation. It finished like espresso with a twist of lemon peel. ABV seems stronger than 6%.

Not horrible, but the best thing about this beer is the aroma. I wish the rest of it lived up to the aroma.

 565 characters

Photo of SwillinBrew
3.31/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I bought a bottle of this because i had one at a beer dinner at the Hobbit in Orange Ca. Well, i didnt know this one said "aged in malt whiskey cask"

The color was beautiful. It was a black hole of dark jet coffee with very little head. On the smell it was nothing but whiskey and wood. I think a bit too overpowering. Which leads to the taste, that of whiskey. A roastiness and slight toffee riding on a whiskey backbone. Not to carbonated and smooth on the palate. Overall this is not my type of brew but good nevertheless. This is definitely a sipping brew and one for those that like whiskey of which i do not. I had to remember the bottle alluded to whiskey as i reviewed this.

 685 characters

Photo of WetCoaster
3.31/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

 748 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
3.32/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 fl oz. bottle served at cellar temp in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Inky black, just like the name would imply. Dark brown frothy head that recedes to a slight foam relatively quickly. Little bits of foam were left on my glass.

Smell: Woody, dark malt and fruit aromas. I caught some unpleasant soy sauce notes initially, but they quickly went away. The fruits are of the grape and plum variety, with some cherries thrown in for good measure. I was expecting more whiskey notes, and less wine.

Taste: Tart chocolate and fruit tastes. Raisins, prunes, grapes, apples, pears, and cherries well up and do their thang on your tongue. Reminiscent of a hearty red wine. Some tannic flavors on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly viscous, yet with a medium body. Mild tannic astringency.

Drinkability: Hrmmm.. I'm not so much into this one. I was expecting something a bit more heavy than what I got. I think a stout would've held up to the wood aging a bit more. One to try if you like tart beers or unique stories behind them.

Other: I was expecting more of a whiskey/scotch character to this than I what I got. It seemed more winelike than anything else. Where's the buttery and oakiness?

 1,211 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 201 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.