1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

369 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 369
Reviews: 242
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 17.81%

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: rhoadsrage on 08-01-2005)
View: Beers (18) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 369 | Reviews: 242 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of haazer


4.65/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Resurrection Ale House for PBW. 2010 vintage.

A - A very turbid, apricot brew. Apple cider with tan highlights, no carbonation from the cask.

S - Dry single malt whiskey. Apple, phenolic, and pure sweet whiskey. A bit of brandy too. Pretty good but one dimensional.

T - The Laguvulin whiskey must be real delicious. Great malt profile, smooth whiskey, vanilla, and charred oak barrel. A cigar would be excellent with this. Some dark fruits, and red apple pulp.

M - Full bodied and ever so smooth. No carbonation, but it drinks perfectly. I would take this over a whiskey on the rocks.

O - Real glad to have had this. The charred oak in the barrel is great. This would go great with a steak. I can't get over how smooth this is. This is whiskey as beer, literally. I think it should be had on cask to see the real transition without the carbonation. Thank you PBW!!

Serving type: cask

06-08-2012 20:07:15 | More by haazer
Photo of Holland


1.88/5  rDev -52.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A: cloudy orange and brown color with no head and no lacing.

S: apple cider, earthy tones, some sweetness and peaty scotch

T: apple cider and bacon. Later on once I let it settle a bit I get some more scotch, but not much.

M: thick and uncarbonated

O: skip this, it's bad on cask at least. It would be fine if I had it with pancakes in the morning alongside an FBS since it tastes like bacon and apples. At $10 for a pour, forget this garbage.

Serving type: cask

03-07-2012 02:36:43 | More by Holland
Photo of DIM


2.5/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pumped from the actual lagavulin whisky cask, pretty cool.

a: This was a ruddy dark copper color. It was served to me with a small but firm cap.

s: Strong sherry aromas with hints of caramel and ash. Where is the whiskey?

t: This tasted strongly of sherry, not whiskey. There was plenty of ash as well that wasn't all that pleasant. There was a puckering quality about this that wasn't quite sour. I found a vague sort of fruit that reminded me of port. The regular version was extremely sweet, that was all lost here.

m: Still and syrupy.

o: I had to try it, the concept is very cool. I just didn't enjoy the beer though.

Serving type: cask

01-07-2012 22:02:57 | More by DIM
Photo of KyleDS


3.3/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This exceptionally rare brew from JW was poured straight from the cask at the Belgian Cafe in Philly - one of my favorite pubs in town.

I was really excited to try this beer but was a bit dissapointed with the overall characteristics. Although i appreciate the time, craftmanship, and hardwork that when into producing this beer, it's not something that i would likely try again.

A: copper coloring, very little head

A: woody, earthy, chared wood, smokey, caramel

T: alcohol warming, woody, cramel, warm all the way down with sryup, dark fruit on the back

M: consistent of a scotch feel, with apparent warming in the mouth and throat.

O: i enjoyed tasting this beer and differentiating the characteristics, however, its not something that really caught my attention.

Serving type: cask

12-15-2011 19:36:13 | More by KyleDS
Photo of Greencoat


4.4/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, strait from the cask.

A: murky medium brown with absolutely no head
S: huge whiskey nose with a gorgeous caramel backbone
T: brilliant oak and whiskey flavors, no hop presence. Wonderful smoke character on the finish.
M: still, sweet and warming
O: one of the most enjoyable beer experiences I've ever had. I feel privalaged.

Serving type: cask

11-20-2011 03:34:31 | More by Greencoat
Photo of msabin


1.75/5  rDev -55.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Serving type: On cask at Novare Res

I was super excited to try this beer because I'm a fan of Scotch, however, I was in for a big disappointment

The head wasn't very prevalent, which wasn't a problem, given that it was on cask. The color was a deep orange, which looked great in the lighting of the bar.

The nose was cloyingly sweet. I knew I was in for trouble once I smelled this brew.

The taste was just sickly sweet with some peat in the finish, which was the only good part of this beer. The sweetness assaulted my tongue and I couldn't get it out of my mouth. It really dominated this beer and I wasn't able to finish an 8 oz. serving.

Oh well, at least I will never be tempted to pay $9 for a 12 oz. bottle of this.

Serving type: cask

12-28-2010 00:20:18 | More by msabin
Photo of FLBeerGuy


3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours cloudy light copper color with no head.

Nose is dominated by whiskey. Then there is some oak and toffee.

Taste is much like the nose, dominated by whiskey, wow, it's almost too much. Alcohol is not hidden here. This one is ment for sipping, took me abut 45 minutes to finish an about 8 oz glass.

Mouthfeel is kind of thin, no carbonation, but it is cask.

Don't think I would go for this one again, too boozy.

Serving type: cask

12-11-2010 00:04:28 | More by FLBeerGuy
Photo of chaz01


4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Generously shared out by the owner of Belmont Party Supplies in Dayton at a semi-private charity beer tasting event. According to him, this special cask was from a recent vintage from his private collection, originally poured from a small cask.

A: Amber brown in color, very little head or carbonation detected -- instead this is rich, thick and syrupy looking.

S: I hardly ever give a perfect rating in a category so that I can always leave room to rate something higher. But the aroma on this beer takes the cake! Just a wonderful whiskey, raisins, sherry, smoky and port aromas from this beer make me just want to sit and smell this beer.

T: Sweet, smokey, malty with notes of sherry, port, vanilla and oak. Very complex flavor with so much going on.

M: Low carbonation, very full bodied, thick and syrupy.

D: I have a couple of bottles at home, but not sure if I'll ever get to drink from the cask again. This was a real treat and the highlight of the evening. A very full bodied sipping beer to be broken out on very special occasions.

Serving type: cask

05-16-2010 19:23:35 | More by chaz01
Photo of glid02


4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wooden-pin cask at the Brick Store for the kick-off of the 12th anniversary. 2006 vintage.

Pours a hazy brown color with a thin soda-bubble off-white head that recedes quickly into nothing. No lacing, but it does coat the side of the glass.

Smells of butterscotch with earthy booze aromas, including peat and smoke.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Right off the bat peat flavors come out and are joined shortly by butterscotch and a solid malt backbone. Ending is sweet.

Mouthfeel is great. The carbonation is just barely there and the thickness is phenomenal.

Drinkability is good. I could definitely sip on this for a while.

Overall this is perhaps the most I've ever tasted peat in a beer. Well worth a shot.

Serving type: cask

06-19-2009 03:06:42 | More by glid02
Photo of JohnQVegas


4.8/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pin cask, 2007 vintage, at Beer Table in Brooklyn. Compliments of one owner, to celebrate his wife's (the other owner's) birthday.

Pours a very hazy golden brown, with absolutely no head.

Nose is peat smoke and honey, woody and decadently sweet.

Taste is peat smoke, honey and caramel, brown sugar and hints of walnut and molasses. Burn of whiskey in the back of your throat as well, though the alcohol is unbelievably well hidden and smooth. Amazingly balanced, a singular experience from the pin cask. The kind of beer that makes you understand what beer can really aspire to be. Fantastic.

One of the beers that I will always remember. Spectacular beer - the smokiness hadn't picked up the sausagey quality I've found in the bottle version. In this is was woody and dry and magnificently balancing.

Serving type: cask

04-27-2009 12:51:08 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of ruckzuck


4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this during the Brick Store 11th anniversary. This was the '01 vintage.

A - dark cloudy amber body with no head to speak of

S - serious Scotch aroma combined with a malty aroma and no hop presence to speak of

T - hints of Scotch in the taste as well, sweet malt, caramel, some booziness. Sticks to the lips somewhat

M - full bodied, basically no carbonation, but goes down smoothly and deliciously

D - this is a very, very cool beer (and the cask looked awesome) limited in drinkabiltiy somewhat by its strength and sweetness. Really good to have 1 or 2, but wouldn't want to attempt more than that in 1 sitting.

Serving type: cask

07-13-2008 15:41:09 | More by ruckzuck
Photo of ViveLaChouffe


4.85/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at The Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA. 2001 vintage.

It pours a lightly hazy dark amber with no head to speak of. I could have just smelled this beer and been satisfied. Peaty and earthy, sweet malt and whiskey from the cask. Beautiful. The taste matches the smell. Very boozy and quite sweet but always with that peaty, whisky flavor permeating throughout. Very fruity with hints of toffee and vanilla. Sweetish finish with the whisky flavor lingering.


Serving type: cask

06-19-2008 13:08:44 | More by ViveLaChouffe
Photo of julian


4.68/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this at Uber Tavern in Seattle on Monday. The keg tapping was almost ceremonious. Had this from cask and from bottle as side by side comparison. Night and day...general flavor footprint was there, but there was so much MORE going on from the cask taster therefore review below is for cask version.

A: This poured a dark grassy/almond color with light head and minimal lacing.

S: The scent was sweet and rich flavor with very mild carbonation.

T: Amazing taste involving complex flavors. sweet, caramely, roasted character and malty mixed with petey woody elements from the barrel. So much going on here I can't even properly describe it. Phenomenal.

M: I don't know how else to describe this other than it was like tasting heaven wrapped in liquid velvet. This was by far the smoothest and easiest drink I've ever tasted. Period.

D: This is a pretty high ABV barley wine, and honestly will limit how much you can drink. This is more of a sipping drink, which is what I used it for and how I suggest it be drank to fully enjoy everything it has to offer.

Serving type: cask

06-12-2008 04:01:04 | More by julian
Photo of johnmichaelsen


4.7/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was great out of the bottle, but on draft out of the cask... this beer is other worldly. On tap at Max's today.

The beer pours an amber honey color with fair head retention and lacing. Doesn't look all that impressive, but...

The nose is incredibly complex, consisting of old sherry, walnuts, cherry and heaven. The beer tastes even better and has just layers of flavor. One gets moderate sweetness initially, which consists of maple syrup, cherry cough drop and beef boullion. Those flavors quickly turn over to rich aged sherry and walnuts. The finish is long, rich and decadent. Mouthfeel is full, soft and lingering. Abv. is noticeable, but the beer is so delicious, it's hard to pay it any mind.

Incredible. A tour de force. Just fabulous stuff.

Serving type: cask

05-31-2008 21:29:59 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of MarineHokie


3.25/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Clear reddish copper, absolutely no head.

S - Strong sweet smoky oak scotch aroma.

T - Sweet & smoky. Maple and bacon on the finish.

M - Medium-heavy body. Sticky & sweet.

D - Very interesting and definetly a sipper/apertif kind of drink. One is enough.

Serving type: cask

04-07-2006 22:26:20 | More by MarineHokie
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A real treat to enjoy about 1/2 of a pint of this fine sipper from a "wodden pin" (mini keg) with a gravity pour at the Blind Tiger in lower NYC. Pours dark dark brown, very cloudy, no carbonation nor lacing to be found. Nose is of whisky. Notes of ripe plums and more whiskey on the palate.Also smoky notes picked up, hints of salami and soggy raisins and figs. Fine, fine brew, strong, rich flavors and quite complex and interesting. Depth of flavors is outstanding. Each sip is intriguing. Long wiskey infused finish. Outstanding.

Serving type: cask

11-11-2005 17:33:41 | More by Billolick
Photo of gentlebubbles


3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

on cask at Redbone's

Dark caramel served in a 5oz wine glass that looks like a very dangerous port.

Wonderful aromas of cherries and plums with trails of smoke.

Lots of sweet cherry fruitiness and smoky peat, though these two elements have not yet figured out how to get along with each other. Rich, silky texture that slowly melts in the mouth, like eating chocolate-covered whiskied cherries that have been smoked over peat.

Alcohol hidden so well it should be carrying a conceal weapon permit. I found even a couple sips overwhelming. I think I'd rather have just a splash in a snifter as the cap of a large meal.

Serving type: cask

04-24-2005 21:44:14 | More by gentlebubbles
Photo of BMMillsy


4.55/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Bottle from a trip to Hoboken. Shared with beastmaster. Pours orange, mostly clear, with pretty much no head. Aroma is big peaty scotch smells, a bit of the signature nutty JW Lees in the backdrop. But really big smokey peat. Flavor is massive smokey peat, leather, tobacco, very light dry nuts, more peat, a hint of sweet caramel to balance. Whoah. This is like scotch, but without any of the booze burn. Very mellow. Medium plus mouthfeel with more carbonation than I got from the other BA versions of this. This might be my favorite variant, and it is bordering on incredible.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2014 02:32:34 | More by BMMillsy
Photo of Bung

North Carolina

3.91/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

9.3 oz. 2011. Thick orangey pour, no sediment really, just translucent. Just a few bubbles around the top and edge after a very careful pour. What little was there did last a while.

Aroma, Very peaty and woody. It is pungent. Smoke, toffee, malt are lesser present.

Taste, Smoked peat and cask are present up front, not as strong as the aroma. Still pretty strong though. Sweeter malt, toffee and melted brown sugar are stronger here. Finishes with some fig and toasted bitterness, more smoke.

Just over medium bodied, but coats like a heavier brew. A good stickiness to it. No alcohol present as always with the Harvest ales.

I like smoked beers, so this worked for me. It nearly overcomes the excellent base brew beneath.

Not for the faint of heart. Kind of a smoked English Barley-wine. Very unique and worth trying, just be aware and ready for it.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2014 03:08:16 | More by Bung
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

3.91/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brewed 2011.

Beer is a dark orange with a small off-white head. Head fades quickly, leaving some bubbles.

The Lagavulin comes through strongly. Peat and some smoke. Accompanying that is caramel and green apple.

Taste is like the nose. Peat, whisky, caramel, green apple. While I am a fan of Lagavulin and Islay malts generally, the peat is too strong for the beer. Quite sweet, with a bit of a honey flavour.

Full bodied, moderate to low carbonation, sticky sweet.

Overall, pretty good, but the Lagavulin is overpowering and the beer is too sweet. Not the best treatment of the Harvest Ale.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2013 01:53:50 | More by jrenihan
Photo of BullBearHawk


2.29/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

2008 Bottle cracked on 11/09/13 served into a snifter.

Maybe I'm not that into English Barleywines but King Henry is one of my favorite beers, probably not a true English BW. Anyways this beer had a real boozie sweet smell to it and tasted the same. Heavy smokiness, cinnamon, funky spices, caramel, kind of an unpleasant tart taste to it. Overall It tasted like a funky, sweet, syrupy mess. Maybe fresh it tastes a lot better.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2013 02:05:20 | More by BullBearHawk
Photo of TheBeerTraveler


2.95/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

2008 brew

A: caramel, bubbly, tons of sediment!

S: Smokey, peaty, RonSwansonish, You can smell more alcohol than you taste.

T: Figs, retains the peaty flavor of the lagavulin

M: Syrupy, sweet, sticks to your lips

O: Was not very impressed - I think the sediment and the thick syrupy texture ruined it for me.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2013 23:35:39 | More by TheBeerTraveler
Photo of JohnnyHopps


4.61/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After my experience with this beer, the low reviews are shocking. It makes me curious as to whether some reviewers appreciate the difference between an English barleywine and an American barleywine. That said, I loved this beer.

Poured into a mini-snifter, the beer was a copper color with a modest slight white head. At the front, the aroma was a mild whiskey aroma. While the aroma was enjoyable, it would not make be want to buy the beer again by itself. In the initial taste, one gets sweet malts, nuttiness, amaretto, and a mild sourness. Even with an 11.5%ABV, this beer's alcohol does not leave an abrasive alcohol burn. The thick mouthfeel becomes more apparent in the aftertaste as the aftertaste lingers. I might define the aftertaste as a syrupy sweet alcohol that is masked well enough to be like a girly drink. This is an outstanding barrel aged barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2013 23:57:49 | More by JohnnyHopps
Photo of tbdkev


4.85/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber color with tons of sediment. The aroma is nice; hints of vanilla, caramel, oak, and toffee are abound. The taste follows well with a sweet blend of all the aforementioned notes, plus a slight whisky burn and an indescribably smooth finish. The lack of burn really masks the alcohol content (11.5%); this one really has the potential to sneak up and dropkick a lot of people. All in all, a very, very good brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2013 20:24:10 | More by tbdkev
Photo of Greywulfken

New York

4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottling

A: into a snifter, orange amber with a touch of haze; only a slight off-white collar even after a center-pour

S: Lagavulin Scotch - peat and smoke; rich beer malt sugars, like toffee and caramel

T: sinuous blend of top-tier single malt Scotch flavors and sweet malts - aforementioned smoke, peat, toffee, and caramel, delicate malt flavors and whisky-soaked wood

M: slick, thin, light - but a caress over the palate; sweet stick to the roof of the mouth, airy wood and whisky vapors in the mouth

O: not as acclaimed as their sherry cask edition, but I'm more of a Scotch man, so this was an absolute delight. A very thin, graceful, and flavorful barleywine - transcends the boundaries between the beer and spirit worlds.

2007 bottling

A: into a snifter, dirty brown beer with lots of chunky sediment - Heady topper's got nothing on this beer - small, brief head - unfortunately, I've gotta say, that much sediment isn't quite what I'm looking for

S: sugary-sweet caramel and candy apple have grown larger than the peat and smoke I enjoyed in the 2011 bottling

T: again, the Scotch flavors have largely subsided, and I'm drinking something that reminds me of caramel apples

M: smooth, slick, no bitterness, candy aftertaste, light/thin

O: had to downgrade some scores, as this did not age as well as I'd hoped - losing the Lagavulin peat and smoke did not improve the taste of the beer, which I found to be far too sugary for my liking, and the appearance of so much sediment was due in part to my pour, but still detracted from the drinking experience I was hoping for.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2013 15:17:39 | More by Greywulfken
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 369 ratings.