Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
182 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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.
United Kingdom (Scotland)

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.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 182 | Ratings: 201
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.

 455 characters

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.

 473 characters

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.

 1,137 characters

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.

 1,024 characters

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.

 911 characters

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

 250 characters

Photo of abedenbaugh
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A:The name fits very well with how the beer looks. It's very dark, almost opaque with a touch of red when you look through the shallow areas. The head is dark brown but falls quickly.
S:Has an intense sweet roasty malt aroma with some dark chocolate in there. A little bit of whiskey and coffee, too.
T:Very roasty flavor and it's slightly sweet. There is alittle bit of a sherry flavor and a slight warming alcohol sensation after the finish.
MF:Smooth feeling in the mouth with low to mid carbonation.
D:A good drinking beer with a good deal of complexity in flavor.

 568 characters

Photo of Ecliptica
2.29/5  rDev -40.5%
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 gford217
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black with mahogany tint around the edges. Very thin bubbly tan head that dissipates almost immediately leaving minimal lacing.

S: Tough to get around the boozy whiskey smell of this one. There is definitely a toffee, chocolate smell along with the roasted malt aroma, but it really comes back to the whiskey for me.

T: Big, nice, complex taste where the whiskey doesn't dominate as much as the nose. Big roasted chocolate malt taste up front with some caramel and coffee in there as well. The whiskey is present throughout but isn't overpowering.

M: Creamy mouthfeel with very little carbonation and a nice malt whiskey burn.

D: The whiskey is certainly present in this one so the drinkability isn't extremely high. All in all, a decent representation of an old ale with a serious whiskey kick.

 844 characters

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.39/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint glass, pours a thick, motor oil like viscosity, black, not much head. The aroma reveals a woodiness that takes on boozy tones and vanilla notes. Similarly, on the palate its a bit hot, but rich and delicious. The roasted malt is plentiful, some nice plum fruitiness. The mouth again is warm, and very nice and smooth. Overall, this is a damn tasty beer, and I need more.

 382 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
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!

 1,126 characters

Photo of John_M
4.44/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

 1,004 characters

Photo of Trueant1
4.82/5  rDev +25.2%
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!


 587 characters

Photo of DIM
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
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.

 928 characters

Photo of dsa7783
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz, single bottle copped from Super Saver in Somerville...
This sample, that was supposedly aged in Malt Whiskey Casks, is much noticeably more sweet than its original counterpoart, with a distinct vanilla, whiskey aroma and flavor bursting rhough...
Dark, burnt chocolate, and roasted malt aroma is complemented by a heavy vanilla, oak-aged essence replete with caramel, nutmeg, vanilla, and candied sugars, including dark lattes, and rich capuccino..
Thick and heavy roasted malt flaovr pervaded this one...
Very whiskey-like, with touches of Bourbon and alcohol..

 569 characters

Photo of bilyboy65
4.52/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

 902 characters

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

Bottled, consumed on 12/22/07.

Dark brown liquid; a modest tan head was coaxed during pour. Looks a lot like a stout. Aroma: in case you missed the label that says "aged in malt whiskey casks", the nose will tell all. Smokey, salty aroma: almost like soy sauce. Silky texture as it glides onto the tongue. Mild chocolate, some bitterness and the aftertaste of peat and whiskey (complete with a little burn) round out the palate.


 445 characters

Photo of tiger88
3.38/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this one Saturday night while watching the Memphis-Tennessee ball game. Pours a thick black just as the name would suggest. Head doesn't last too long but was tan and lacey. It smelled extremely sweet as one could imagine being aged in malt whiskey casks. The whiskey taste is prevelant from first to last sip, gaining momentum as the temperature rises. Mouthfeel was a little less viscous than a typical Impy stout. Drinkability: good sampling beer but I'm not sure if I would drink an entire bottle, unless I had an hour to kill.

 535 characters

Photo of joe1510
4.28/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

33cl Bottle
Sam's Marcey

8% abv.

Old Engine Oil Special Reserve plops into my glass black without letting a glimpse of light break through. The super creamy tan head was slow to develop but a more aggressive pour yielded a finger's worth. The head eventually fell to a respectable cap and left film lacing on its fall. This is an excellent looking beer.

The aroma is good but needs to be more robust. All the aromas come together so well it's actually tough to put a finger on all the different components. Roasted malts, cold coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and alcohol are in there in order of intensity. The smell of this beer makes you want to drink up without a doubt.

The flavor doesn't stray much from the aroma. The Special Reserve is incredibly well rounded. All the maltiness I picked up in the nose is in the flavor as well. The vanilla is a little more pronounced along with spicy alcohol on the swallow. The aftertaste leaves a hint of smokiness. The aging that's been done is spot on. Excellent old ale.

After my first few sips the body seemed somewhat thin. After it had a chance to warm a little more it became all at once rich, creamy and velvety. Alcohol fumes waft through the nose on the swallow.

This is a beer to sit back with and enjoy the complexities. A sipper without a doubt and a good beer for these cool winter evenings.

I enjoy the original but the Special Reserve steps it up a notch. The added complexity the aging provides makes this a beer to be reckoned with.

 1,507 characters

Photo of gwood
4.68/5  rDev +21.6%
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.

 994 characters

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

This beer poured a thick black with a ½" brown head. The aroma was sweet, malty, cane sugar like with a hint of whiskey. The taste is sweet and malty with molasses and somewhat alcoholic. The mouthfeel is chewy. This is a big, easy drinking beer. Delightful - I'll be having another soon.

 289 characters

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

Very dark brown with a fine tan cap, mostly in a ring around the glass. Excellent retention for what's there, plus a fair bit of spotty lace. Sweet milk/lactose aroma, with some chocolate, oak, toffee, mild booze and a hint of smoke. Mellow flavour with restrained bitterness and lots of toffee and chocolate. Doughy malt with a bit of oak and booze. Medium bodied with low carbonation and a bit of warmth. Very good, quite mellow and highly drinkable.

 452 characters

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

This is a nice rich stout with an extra flavor kick from the whiskey casks. Pours like...old engine oil...dense dark, no light coming through. Medium brown head that fades to a covering fairly quickly. Leaves medium lacing on the glass. Smell is mild, malty, nothing special. Taste is a rich malty flavor with a surprise in the after taste - the sensation of whiskey including a little burn. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy with the little burn at the end. This is a very drinkable beer, flavorful...variety of tastes and rich. Really nice....going to have to try the OEO without the cask aging for comparison.

 607 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.53/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

 1,080 characters

Photo of kwakwhore
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours like it's name, black and viscous, with a smallish tan head which quickly subsides to a small ring around the side of the glass. Darkest old ale I've seen, porterlike in appearance.
Smells of dark chocolate, some booze and perhaps a little fruitcake.
Dark chocolate dominates the flavor along with vanilla. Bitter chocolate flavors sticks around for a long time in the finish.
A bit of an alcohol burn, but the mouthfeel is still silky.
Not sure I'd want more than one of these in a night. I'm feeling the 8%abv(not 6) so I'd say that drinkability suffers a bit.
Still this is a very good beer, especially for a winter's evening. An interesting beer which could be called a porter/old ale hybrid.

 705 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!