Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

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) | website

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 DoubleJ
2.97/5  rDev -22.9%
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 danend
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma : Lot's of vanilla and bourbon. Some dark fruits, malt sweetness, a little chocolate, raisins...Not too much hops in the nose. No harsh alcohol but a little alcoholic sweetness.

Appearance : Very dark, but clear when held to the light, a small tan head that lingers. Some lacing down the sides.

Flavor : Much like the aroma; vanilla, bourbon, some chocolate and roasted malts, dark fruity flavors, some caramel. Lot's of good stuff here.

Mouthfeel : Pretty full bodied, but not overly so. Finishes roasty with a little sweetness. Nicely carbonated.

Overall : A very nice old ale, has all of the dark characteristics I look for without being over the top in alcohol content. I wish I had another.

 705 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
5/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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

 753 characters

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

11.2 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: A dark, dirty black with brownish tones. Small deep tan head with no retention. Little to no carbonation.

S: Smells of bittersweet dark chocolate, caramel, and molasses with a whiskey backbone

T: Big roast malt flavors. Bittersweet dark chocolate, butterscotch/caramel, and whiskey. Warming alcohol feel as it goes down. Reminds me of a wine in some spots.

M: Full-bodied with prickly carbonation.

D: This beer is big and bad, I'm feeling it halfway through. A sipper.

 513 characters

Photo of rye726
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured at 50F into a snifter

Black color with mahogany tints. Thick mocha head with poor retention and lacing.

Wow, very nice nose. Lots of chocolate malts blended with some caramel and black varieties. Roasty with molasses and a delicious whiskey/bourbon smell with some dark fruits.

Deep and complex flavors from start to finish. Rich roasted malts with sweet fruits and sugars. Bitter chocolate with molasses and a strong oaky whisky character.

Full body and smooth feel, good amount of carbonation.

Near perfect example of an old scottish ale that is complimented by the whisky cask aging process. May have to pick up a few of these to see how they better over a few years.

 697 characters

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

Black with a roasted barley and coffee nose. Exceptional smooth chocolate and porter stouty concoction that was great after a dairy meal, like a good coffee without the coffee. This is not a transition beer, it is for those who can appreciate this style. A non-Shelton Bros. import, and a hard one to find in the Northeast.

 323 characters

Photo of Boppar
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: At first it looks jet black, but on closer inspection it's absurdly dark brown. One finger of leathery head, with good lacing and retention.

S: Vanilla, brown sugar, and a solid amount of alcohol burn on the nostrils.

T: Whiskey, sweet malts, chocolate, molasses. Rich alcohol burn. I wish the finish weren't quite so sweet, but it's still mighty fine. The aging in whiskey casks definitely gave it some faint woody notes in addition to the much more powerful whiskey flavor.

M: Thick, rich, sticky.

D: I'd be good for a couple. It's really too sticky and sweet and rich to want more than that.

Interesting. Well worth a try.

 633 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Impenetrable and opaque blackened oil. Capped with a milk chocolate/cappucino dollop of foam, with small arcs of lace around the chalice. Sturdy and substantial in appearance.

Lots of chocolate, malted milk balls, and even a little vinous. This all sounds good, but there's an alcohol sharpness arching over it all that mutes these desired aromas.

It's velvety and feels more than 6%, but i'm thankful that it *is* only 6%. The sharpness from the Whisky isn't overpowering, but lends a distinctive element to the finish and aftertaste. Some berry an dry woodiness are in there, under the load of chocolate and long whisky finish. Nicely balanced and not a booze bomb. Very smooth and enjoyable to slowly sip a glass after dinner or by the fire...

 750 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears an opaque, sludgy motor oil with a 2 finger, tan head that slowy fades into a chunky cap and mild collar. Scattered streaks of lacing are left all around the glass. Tiny streams of CO2 slowly rise to the top of the glass.
Smell is of toffee, cocoa, caramel, oaky vanilla, roasted grains, meaty, molasses, java, and notes of over-ripened fruit.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a dosing of caramel, and earthy hops.
Mouthfeel is roasty, smooth, medium-full bodied, with mild carbonation

 498 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the privilage of trying this beer after a recent BJCP class. And as expected, it differs quite a bit from the standard Old Engine Oil offering. The greatful aspect of the standard Old Ale is that it does balance well, is aged well, and has a well formulated recipe. Unlike many of its counterparts, it is low on fusals, does not conflict hop bitterness with malt sweetness, and avoids acidic fruit flavors and textures. All this goes out the window when they added this beer to the whisky casks. Although it adds complexity through the infused sweet / hot alchohols, picks up a bit of woody character, and brings some subtle caramel-vanilla notes; the beer becomes quite harsh, fusal, abrasive, acidic-cherry-like, and behaves 'young' again. I'll certainly not turn it down, but I don't appreciate the new cough-syrup flavors that are now demonstrated.

 856 characters

Photo of chefscott79
3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
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 yemenmocha
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours near black, perhaps very very dark brown with brown head.

Nose has a clean, marshmallowy roastiness at first. Start to notice some baking chocolate too after a few whiffs. Dark fruits are als present.

On the palate is baker's chocolate, spirity/alcohol, and a smooth dark chocolate finish. The dark chocolate comes across in a dry way - not very sweet.

Finish is a little chalky and alcoholic.

 402 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8% abv offering pours mahogany with 2+ fingers of mocha colored head from an amber colored bottle. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Vanilla & oakyness & a hint of booze

T: Chocolate, oaky dryness & vanilla notes up front. A hint of booze, charred wood & licorice in the middle as this warms. Finishes dry, warming boozey, with a hint of figs, & whisky

MF: Medium bodied, oily & silky with low carbonation

Drinks pretty easy, an old ale that makes use of maximum flavor, where's the Christmas pudding??? I guess this could pass as bourbon stout with little trouble

 576 characters

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

Pours black with a big dark tan head and some moderate lacing. The smell is of lots of swweet malt, a touch of soy, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Some cocoa powder at the end, and a hiny of scotch. Very malty and chocolately up front with a delicious long tang of malt whisky on the finish. Well integrated and very nice. A great after dinner sipper. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and absolutely delicious! Great drinkability for the abv. Bravo!

 449 characters

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

Appearance is a dark, chocolate brown with a moderate milk chocolate colored head that falls quickly leaving a lot of lacing.
The smell is of strong, dark chocolate and malts, very nice.
The taste is more of the same as the taste.
Mouthfeel is very smooth and medium thick.
Drinkability is very nice. A smooth easy drinker where two of these would be a nice treat.

I've had this in my cellar for a couple of years and it is a very smooth & tasty beer. If you like malty and chocolate tasting beers you will enjoy this one.

 523 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a thinnish-looking black body with no real head worth mentioning.

Smell: Roasty aroma that's nicely malty, and has some fruit and bourbon, along with it's accompanying notes of wood and vanilla.

Taste: Plenty of roasted dark maltiness with lush notes of coffee and anise. Lightly chocolatey. Mild dried fruit undertone. Finishes sweet and warming with notes of whiskey and wood.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Very mild carbonation. Slightly warming.

Drinkability: Not bad at all. How about that Old Engine Oil, huh?

 534 characters

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.8/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

 414 characters

Photo of BuckSpin
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2,865 characters

Photo of rallison
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1,124 characters

Photo of Beerbuddha
3.16/5  rDev -17.9%
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 mikesgroove
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well, where to start this one. I was up in Bruisin Ales about a month ago with my brother in law, and all he had talked about was this beer that he had tried down in Orlando that was the thickest, blackest thing he had ever seen. He had never seen it since and had never even seen it on a shelf anywhere. Well lo and behold we look on the first shelf and there in lies about a half dozen of these. Needless to say he was immediatly sold on all things in the store! So I picked him up one and decided I should get one for myself while I was there, as I always have to do with something I have not tried before. So it has been sitting in the fridge since then and I need to clear out room this week for the party we are having this weekend, so I dug way back and pulled this one out...so onto the beer....

A - Well the name should really say it all as far as the appearence goes here. Thick and black as night, ths poured down in to the glass with really no splash at all, I actually thought I heard it make a chug noise coming out of the bottle. Nice about one inch high tan head graced the top until it let go just leaving about a quarter inch in its wake, Very thick lacing left down the side of the glass, I thought it was gonna stain the glass, it was seriously that damn dark. If there was alot of carbonation, I would not be able to tell, it was a force to be reckoned with it looked like at least.

S - Very strong aroma. Lots of caramel and chocoalte coming off of it. I also detected a faint whiff of licorice and some very very subtle coffee tones as well. The smell was very thick in the air and it really lingered too, it was not one of those beers that you just catch a parting shot of the aroma, this was all there. Slight alcohol odor as it warmed up as well..

T - Wow, this was a damn strong beer. I could taste the alcohol right away, not soo much harsh and hot and upfront, just there, letting you know what was going on. Lots of chocolate flavors here, which suprised me, I really did not thick it would be as strong of a factor as it ended up. Some roasted coffee on the back and a nice sweetness, caramel or candies sugar could be found if you really looked for it. Alcohol really mellowed out after a while and became pretty much a non factor after a few minutes.

M - Now this is intresting. It was very thick, but not in that creamy milkshake stout kinda way. It was thicj in that can of oil type of way. Not alot of carbonation here did not help out really. This was one of those you took small sips of and just savored. It was a tad bit slick, but just a little detrimental overall.

D - As an after dinner dessert beer, excellent drinkability, this is the one thats like a candies dessert after you eat. Really nice as you sip and enjoy, If you could chug this one down, power to you, I could not. I enjoyed this over the course of an hour or so.

Overall this really was pretty damn good. I am really not a fan of old ales to be general about it, but this was like no old ale I had ever had before. Its name pretty accuratly described the overall tone of this one. I would defiantly seek it out again and I am very glad that I got this and tried it. Very damn good brew. On a side, I did not detect any of the whiskey aged flavors, and thats why I never mentioned it. It never even occured to me that it was half way through. As a stand alone beer it was very very good.

 3,411 characters

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - dark, murky ink with a hint of dark tan head around the edges of the glass that quickly fades
S - thick sweet malts dominate with a round out of whiskey, oak and a hint of caramel.
T - similar to the nose but with a wonderful complimentary comingling of the flavors. A bit heavier on the sweet side than I would've preferred it stays just this side of cloying.
M - full bodied, modestly carbonated borderline syruppy.
D - a sipper to be sure. entertains the tongue through the full glass.

One in a session is enough for me but with 2 more in the cellar I look forward to the winter and enjoying another bottle!

 622 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a nonic)

A- This beer has a dark black body with a cinnamon tan head that is mostly made up of big bubbles. There is no sign of carbonation or light in the body.

S- The smell of chocolate malt and roasted black malt has a nice sweetness to it. There are notes of graham cracker with some brown sugar hints. As the beer warms there is a caramel malt note that gets stronger.

T- The coffee roasted malt flavor is soon overpowered by chocolate malt and most of that flavor is milk chocolate. There is a sweet oaky tan that is strong but balanced with roasted malt and graham notes. The finish has the oak hanging on and a green bitterness.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a thick sticky quality that increases as the beer warms.

D- This beer is a big sweet malty beer with nice big but not overpowering oak flavors.

 875 characters

Photo of goochpunch
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

 1,161 characters

Photo of clickpush
2.31/5  rDev -40%
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

Old Engine Oil Special Reserve (Aged In Malt Whiskey Casks) from Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.
86 out of 100 based on 182 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.