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

very good
201 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 182
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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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of tmitch75
4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

Full bodied, creamy and smooth.

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

Tasted on 5/3/08.

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Photo of Buebie
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
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 kkipple
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

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

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

Tart mouthfeel, but smooth from lack of carbonation.

Drinkability is decent, nothing special to mention here.

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

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

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Photo of RomanW70
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

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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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