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

very good
182 Reviews
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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.

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Reviews: 182 | Ratings: 201
Photo of Ryan011235
2.72/5  rDev -29.4%
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.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A black bodied beer with almost no head or lacing. Looks a bit too still. Aroma of chocolate, malt, and whisky-the peat really comes out in the nose. Complex flavor, definitely very much scotch forward, with a distinct peat whisky flavor on top of ample roastiness, bittersweet chocolate, a touch of tobacco and dark fruit. Dry and corky; somewhat vinous; particularly dry on the finish.

The body was disappointingly thin and undercarbonated, detracting from the overall experience. Still, an intricate, complex flavor made this an interesting and enjoyable beer nonetheless.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Harviestoun Old Engne Oil; Special Reserve

Randomly picked this bad boy up at my local bottle shop. I usually scan past the overseas stuff but noticed the whiskey barrel aging label. This, plus a 3 dollar price tag, equals an easy decision. Bought the 11.2 oz bottle without a BOD. Poured into a 12 oz Delirium snifter.

Settles pitch F'n black with less than a fingers worth of light mocha dome. It dissipates quick but leaves polk-a-dot lacing that looks sticky.

The nose offers some caramel malt that is paired with figgy fruits and milky chocolate. Some sweet and biscuity malts are also detectable.

The flavor that I experienced is out of the ballpark and comes outta nowhere. Milk chocolate so much it almost seems like little Heresey bars are melted and blended with alcohol. Sweet vanilla and oak are only barely detectable under the silky chocolate cloak that dominates. Swishing the elixer around reveals the beastly ABV within.

The mouthfeel is a little thin but is made up for with the velvety cocoa, working it's way into my palate.

Overall, suprisingly badass and full of flavor. Where did this come from and whats up with the shy reviews? This thing packs a punch!

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Photo of cbilek06
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
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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Photo of blakesell
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aged bottle in my cellar. We will say 2007 as this is the youngest it can possibly be. Poured into a British pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours black as night with a wafer thin quarter finger of mocha head that lingers for as long as time itself (the duration of the brew). Lacing clings to the sides of the glass almost like not fully stirred cocoa.

Smell- Milk chocolate and vine driven fruits upfront. Lighter fruits are quick to follow with an almost mango or prickly pear smell hiding in the background. Clearly any hops that previously existed are long gone, and any strong whiskey notes are also fairly gone. I do catch some oak giving that sort of milky chocolaty thing going on.

Taste- Vinous character and dried fruits stick around but as previous reviewers have stated, this does cling harder to the stout end than the old ale end. I think this benefits the beer but somewhere they probably should have stated the style as something else. I do taste oxidation here that is favorable and light chocolate flavor, a pleasant viscous quality like 10W-30 crosses the lips making the beer live up to its name. Actually this is somewhat close to an old ale depending on how rigid you want to cling to styles.

Mouthfeel- A bit greasy, not sticky, lightly chewy, full bodied, not warming or overly alcoholic neither by the wood nor the 8% abv. Very low carbonation.

Drinkability- I believe this beer has aged well and I'm glad to have it now years down the line. If you have an old one hiding around then you can probably enjoy it now or later. Is it still found in the US?

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Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 330 mL bottle.

A: The old ale looks more like a stout, all dark and black like. It's head, a sharp contrast to the dark ale, is a latte color.

S: Nutty graham flavors, again with the stout, dominate the nose. The slightest hint of smoky peat hides behind the rich maltiness.

T: Strike three for the stout vs. old ale debate. The nutty malts, sweetened with graham, remind me of a solid Russian Imperial Stout. The cask aging has imparted a just a touch of smokiness, a peaty mildness that quickly blends in with chocolate malts. The chocolate is rich, a veritable Hershey's chocolate bar of sweetness. I'd love a little more in the way of whisky, but the chocolate malts work.

M: The rich chocolate, much more substantial than syrup, runs throughout the ale, a punch in the face. The dash of peat could be stronger but it might clash with the chocolate.

D: Three-fourths of the way through the ale, it hits hard. The chocolate lingers though, a pleasant reminder.

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Photo of fropones
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a thick black that is impenetrable by light. Thin cappuccino head.

S - Loads of toasted and caramel malts, molasses, and whiskey. Very delicious smelling.

T - Very delicious tasting, too. More molasses, some raisins and figs, dark chocolate. A nice warming feeling from the alcohol, but not too boozy. A nice flavor from the scotch in the end.

M - Very good mouthfeel, extremely chewy and creamy and full bodied. Not too much carbonation, which for this beer is a good thing.

D - Good, although this one is a bit of a sipper. Very delicious and will try and find again.

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Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with very faint mahogany edges when held to a light source and a 1.5 finger foamy coffee-colored head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Minimal lacing.

Aroma has a prominent whiskey presence but there is a somewhat nice balance of roasted coffee and chocolate maltiness. Slightly toasty with some toffee and hazelnut notes but again, mostly whiskey.

Whiskey dominates the flavor up front followed by some sweet roasted chocolate malt, toffee, coffee bean, some more oaky vanilla whiskey and a dry finish. The alcohol presence is very prominent, mostly from the whiskey but the heat is pretty well masked making it quite drinkable.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Binny's South Loop - think it's kind of old, as no other store has had it in stock for a while. Served in my Red Hook pint glass.

A - Pours with a finger of dark chocolate mocha foam that dissipates to a cap and leaves lots of patchy lacing. Black body that reveals a tiny bit of red-brown when held to the light.

S - Malt whiskey, peaty smokiness, wood, roasted chocolate malts, dark fruits (prune, raisin, figs), a touch of coconut and butterscotch. As it warms it gets earthier and peatier. Good stuff!

T - The taste loses a lot of the complexity - big tannic whiskey bite, smoke and peat, some baker's chocolate. It's actually quite smooth, I'm guessing from the age. The aftertaste is big whiskey and wood that gets pretty bitter after a while.

M - Higher carbonation than I like from this style, but still only moderate. Medium-thick body with lots of gritty tannins and some light alcohol heat in the finish.

D - This went down super-fast - the only knock is the intense whiskey finish which, while enjoyable, gets fatiguing. The ABV isn't particularly well-hidden - I was surprised by the 8% as it seems low.

Not quite as good as the Old Dubh series, but still pretty solid.

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Photo of goethean
4.9/5  rDev +27.3%
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 coldmeat23
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

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Photo of Yetiman420
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
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!

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Photo of BasementDweller
4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
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)

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
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 magictrokini
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
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 beerthulhu
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.72/5  rDev -3.4%
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


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Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of bbothen
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.31/5  rDev -14%
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.

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Photo of champ103
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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Photo of Derek
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

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Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
3.85 out of 5 based on 201 ratings.
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