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

Not Rated.
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

410 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 410
Reviews: 248
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 17.6%
Wants: 31
Gots: 70 | FT: 5
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 410 | Reviews: 248 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mcallister
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Brewed in 2004

Poured this one hard to try and accentuate the head. Very good looking sexy beer. An orangish scarlet, with garnet laced throughout when held up to light. An off white head emerged very briefly and faded to oblivion. No lacing to be found. Nice carbonation bubble rising up the side of the glass.

Wicked spicey nose. With big roasted malts. Burnt wood aromas with caramel, and mollasses edges.Smokey maple, Big alcohol aromas also. Very intriguing.

Big residual sugar. Smokey maple flavors up front with some slight vanilla extract notes and hints of caramel. Very thin mouthfeel lacking some complexity. Needs some hop component to tame the RS. Wood, and whiskey on the finish. Slight alcohol burn in the esophagus and chest.

The high amount of RS and somewhat thin mouthfeel are making this beer lack rather largely in the mouthfeel and drinkability department. Much prefer JW Lees Vintage ale but can't wait to try the others.

Photo of MarineHokie
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

Photo of Sammy
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A beverage of certain extremes. A so-so barleywine taste boosted by clear scotch whiskey and wood flavoring, an interest cloudy pour. An aroma that is at the same time beer as it is whiskey. A not so satisfying drinking experience yet smooth. Not a perfect show: Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.

Photo of beveragecaptain
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

275 ml bottle. Pours out a hazy brown color with almost no head. The aroma is caramel, raisins, and smoke. Sticky, sweet caramel flavor combined with an earthy smokiness. Oddly, a little salty. Mouthfeel is nearly flat and syrupy. Rough alcohol flavor, especially as the beer warms. There are some interesting flavors in this beer, but it is not an improvement on the original Harvest Ale. Certainly worth trying, but I doubt I would get it again, especially at the high price.

Photo of Crosling
2.78/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light copper, much lighter in color than regular Harvest. The aroma, though multi-dimensional, is pretty gentle and wimpy overall with light oak, peaty hints, saffron, cigarette ashtray, caramel and scotch hints. Engaging, but unrefined barrel contribution. Smoky and alcoholic with caramel and scotch flavors. Heavy feel with a lightly creamy texture. Not enjoyable at all and an honest drainpour for me. Harvest and Lagavulin is not a good idea.

Photo of scruffwhor
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 275 ml bottle. 2004 labled on the bottle.

Apearance- Pours practically, except for a small, almost unnoticeable ring around the beer until about halfway through drinking it. This ring gradually dissolves into nothing. Color is strikingly similiar to a generic cognac. A decent amouny of viscocity is visible when I twirl the brew around my chalice. A good deep amber with hints of copper, rust, and earthen clay.When I swirl this brew around my chalice, I can literally see the sugars, or maybe its particulate yeast sllide down the glass after the liquid.

Smell- Peat moss, yeah...definetly peat moss. A sweet peat moss none the less and lets not forget the sugared malts. A very earthy scotch aroma with lots of sugar water is very prevalent. This was very exotic and organic to my sense of smell.

Taste- I was very pleased by the new and almost exotic flavor of this beer. With the exception of a few weizen beers, this was the most truly organic and earthy tasting beers I've ever had. The damp earth, peat moss flavors dominate this beer. But lets not the syrupy sweet suagrs that mix with this beer that almost tricks your mind into thinking its drinking a mud bath. But the best and most expensive mudbath money can buy. The finish is more sctotchy and sweet mixed with a more subdued moss flavor.

Mouthfeel- Reminds of mof the syrupy put on Italian ice. A good stexture to match the sharp sweetness and damp earth flavors of this beer. Not to mention a good scotch warming effect at the finish.

When I first saw these four barley wines lined up next to each other on the shelf at Binny's, I told myself I would try these beers soon. And I of course bought one of each, the same day I bought two bottles of Scaldis Prestige at $42 a bottle!!! But I must give my praises to J.W. Lees Brewery for four very....extremely interesting and thought provoking beers. These beers raised my expectations for all barley wines, American and English. And has really opened my eyes to what can be done to develop the flavor of beer in general. Good job J.W. :)

Photo of Fugazme
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to UncleFlip for this one!

I drink beer and occasionally Scotch... and if I drink Scotch it is from Islay... Lagavulin or Laphroaig.

An attractive beer on the pour... dark, deep copper and ruby. Decent head and great stickage.

Aroma is exceptional. The smokey Scotch is present, but not overpowering... it lies under the sweet malt. Wow. Truly amazing aroma.

Mouthfeel is creamy and heavy. Huge.

Mild alcohol burn with some enourmous flavor. Malty with just a tiny, tiny touch of hop bitterness. Scotch flavor improves with the length of the drink. Lots of raisin, fig, dried fruit goodness.

Absolutely one of the best beers I've tried.

Photo of counselor
1.6/5  rDev -59.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

I like scotch whiskey and I like beer; apparently I do not like scotch in my beer (or beer in my scotch). This beer was horrid. It looke good, a glistening khaki colored beer with a thin white head. It al went down hill from there. The smell was an overpowering whiskey, but not a crisp whiskey, but a muddled, milky bready smell. The flavors were overpoweringly of whiskey - the booze would not let the quality english malts to even approach the tongue. It did have a quality mouthfeel. I enjoy english bw and the full malt profile, unfortunatley, this one could not overcome the booze flavors. I have several other of this line (calvados, port, etc). Ihope they don't all stink.

Photo of isubsmith
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Orange/golden color. Minimal head and minimal head retention.

Smell: So wonderful... The smoky peaty aroma fills the nostrils. There is a malty sweetness soon after.

Taste: Oh man this is sweet. Some sweet fruity flavors. Tons of malty sweetness. Some interesting Lagavulin notes in there, but not as much as I had hoped for. The alcohol is definately present.

Mouthfeel: Waaay too syrupy. Cloying. Coats the mouth, very oily.

I really didn't care for the sweetness of this beer. I am hoping a few years in the cellar helps it out, but I will pass on another bottle anytime soon.

Photo of Billolick
4.43/5  rDev +13%
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.

Photo of EPseja
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my trusty Duvel tasting tulip at cellar temperature.

A - Pours a deep burnt orange-brown color without much bravado until slowly but aggressively, the bubbles start to rise up against the falling liquid in a manner remeniscent of the settling of a Guinness. The head finally reaches it's peak at a full, creamy tan inch and is composed of a tightly-knit honeycomb of tiny bubbles. As the head falls to a large-bubbled island amidst the remaining thin film, it leaves a thick ring around the edges of the glass. Lacing is thin, but then again, a thick lacing is not something you find in this style.

S - Malty, sweet and mildly tart notes dominate the nose. Also noticeable are hints of soy, caramel, a nice hit of smoked peat, and a very understated green hoppines.

T - As a lover of peaty islay malts, I was very happy to find that the first thing I tasted was a sweet, maltiness wrapped in a velvet blanket of lightly medicinal smoked peatiness. Absolutely delicious - and interesting to boot! The middle of the mouthful reveals a very light tartness (perhaps from the yeast), and a caramel candy sugariness. The finish is quite sugary sweet, mildly cloying, and only medium dry. There is a very faint hoppiness, although any residual bitterness is entirely overshadowed by the thick sweetness. Although the beer seems a bit one-sided and unbalanced, the incredible concealment of the alcohol is enough to garner kudos to outweigh that fact.

M - Thick, slick and chewy. Almost oily. Rises up to a meringue-thick consistency in the mouth atop the gentle shimmer of effervescence. Swallows with the viscosity of a mousse, and coats your throat like syrup. The sensations produced by this beer's mouthfeel are definitely more noteworthy than those of any other barleywine I've had, although the thickness is just a touch overwhelming to be better than good.

D - As an after dinner treat, or in place of a cordial, this beer is fantastic. It will appeal to almost any Scotch Whisky fan who's looking for something different. The 11.5% alcohol is so masterfully disguised that it's almost sinister. This beer is meant to be savored, not simply drunk.

Addendum: As I approach the bottom of the glass, it has become apparent that the sugary-sweetness of this beer has taken away from the taste and drinkability, as it has become cloying to the point of detriment. This beer could definitely benefit from many years of aging.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm oh-so terribly fond of the J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale, so let's be a good sport, and give this Lagavulin Whisky Cask-aged version a try.

Appearance: A color reminiscent of sweet, gooey, delicious honey. From very talented, very wonderful bees. A tight, compacted khaki-colored head, with minimal head retention - but that's to be expected. Slight carbonation, with fat, lazy bubbles working their way to the surface.

Aroma: Holy moly! What a HONEY pot aroma with some sweet malt and butter smells around the edges. There's a very slight smokey peat smell to it, but only very slight (far less than I would have imagined).

Taste: Wonderful. A good bit of fruit in the flavor, mainly apricots and honey-soaked raisins. Plenty of chewy malt. The Lagavulin adds in a layer of smokiness to the brew's benefit and makes for a delightful twist on the classic Harvest Ale. A long finish, a graceful finish, and one to simply sit down and cherish.

Mouthfeel: Think, warm and always creamy on the tongue, like so much honey. The alcohol is warming, but not overly noticeable for 11.5%.

Drinkability: A beer you can really drink yourself into a stupor with and smile all the while. True, this one's a sipper, but I am guilty of taking whole mouthfuls just to really sink my teeth into it. A great barleywine experience!

Thankfully, I purchased more than just a single bottle of this offering, and look forward to enjoying these down the road with a little age on it. I'll be sure to try Port, Sherry, and Calvados versio-- OWW!! I just got bit by a BEE!!!

Photo of CortexBomb
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 bottling consumed in Autumn of 2005. (I've had a few vintages of this over the years, but the old reviews were deleted in the great 07 purge, consider this largely representative of what they said though)

Pours out burnt, ruddy orange with almost no head, not surprising given the ABV though. The thin whisp of white that it starts out with quickly faded away to nothing. The beer has an exceptionally thick body though, which is clearly evident if one swirls it in the glass. Honestly, I don't know how much better a beer of this style and alcohol content could look.

The smell is extremely sweet and malty...there is also a distinctly oakey / sour smell from the lagavulin cask...perfection on the smell.

The taste is exceptional. It starts out sweet and malty before giving way to the oak and sour whisky aspect that was present on the nose. Brown sugar is present in abundance, as well as several dark fruits..figs, raisins, plums....the finish is a light kiss and then fades away.

The mouth on this is perfect for the style. It's very thick and this allows the beer to hit every taste bud repeatedly, a full on flavour explosion. Drinkability for a beer of this type is also very good. It's so rich that you have to sip it, but you definitely want to do so anyway. It's also a beer that I rebuy at least once or twice a year even though it's outrageously expensive, because it's just flat out fantastic.

This beer by JW Lee is really one of the best that I've ever had. The lagavulin cask aging adds a tremendous flavour to the English barley wine base and makes for an amazing drinking experience. Very highly recommended. My current favourite beer, and honestly, when it's available, I often think twice about buying a bottle of actual Lagavulin in place of 9 bottles of this stuff...it's really that good.

Photo of Sephiroth
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of my favorite beers, albeit the cask aged version. I have poured my bottle into a large tulip. The color is a fiery amber with a decent head. At 40 degrees, this beer has a smoky, malt whiskey aroma to it.

This has always been the best cask aged version of Harvest Ale. The flavor is of young Harvest Ale, which means ripe plums, prunes, raisins, noble hops, and the kicker, Lagavulin Whiskey. This adds a sweet, smoky flavor.

The mouthfeel is smooth, with light carbonation and a moderate level of syrupy sweetness. I could easily drink more than five of these in a sitting. I will cellar some of these to go along with my regular Harvest Ales dating back to 1998.

Photo of Brian700
4.7/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep reddish brown with minimal head.

The aroma is of whisky and sweet malt. Very amazing. Reminds me of persimmon pudding. Perfection.

The taste follows the nose and then some. It is obvious this is aged in whisky barrels. It is also malty sweet and very complex.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with medium carbonation. Coats the mouth wonderfully.

This is a tremendous beer. I just drank my only bottle so now I'm going to have to see if someone will trade up with me for some more that I can age. I highly recommend this beer.

Photo of kaimcm
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

presentation: 9.3 oz bottle poured into a snifter

app: beautiful tawny/rudy with a pourous off white head. Creamy but bubbly. Gorgeous pour, great color. Head subsides to a small ring around perimeter.

smell: lagavulin! smells like Islay single malt and a hint of barbeque. Not smoke, but grilled meat.

taste: Incredible! first impression is sweet and syrupy with figs/ raisins, very reminiscent of an Olorosso or Ximenez Sherry. Long (for beer) spicy finish compliments the sugar nicely. Not many hops to be found but I dont really miss them. There is a small hint of Scotch on the finish that lingers in the back of the throat, very subtle and sophisticated.

mouthfeel: Viscous as hell but with the perfect amount of carbonation that lightens it up. You have to expect a somewhat heavy brew with this much going on and an ABV of 11.5!

drink: I dont like this category or really know what it means. Its 11.5% ABV, no one can drink a lot of it. Not to mention the intense sugar and flavors prohibits mass consumption. But it wasnt intended as a session beer, thats obvious. Theres a reason the bottle is only 9.3 oz. I cant forget however that its 9 bucks a bottle!!! Does that hurt its drinkability? Of course, and my wallet. So whats the rating? Would I want to enjoy this spectacular brew after a meal or with some cheese, nuts, or desert? Any time, any day. Is it so rich that I would actually prefer to split the bottle with someone? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Hell no. So what rating do I give?

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the sniffer clear medium amber golden with a white head which fell quickly but lasted well to coat the glass.

The aroma was smoky and oaky with a very interesting smoke and alcohol phenolic akin to smoked sausage. In the background was the malt and fruitiness, but they were certainly overpowered by the smoke.

The flavor was malty with a lower smoke complexity. The malt flavor and smoke from the oak casks melded well to make for a very interesting flavor. Immediately following the malt on the palate was the bittering which was well balanced to keep the sweet malty caramel flavor in check.

The finish was dry with a lasting smoke flavor and a lingering malty impression into the afteraste coupled with a bittering that kept everything in line. The body was full and the carbonation low. A nicely crafted beer, almost a smoke beer. Very interesting this came from Whisky casks to create the smoky complexity.

9.3 ounce bottle. Purchased at Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, VA for $7.75.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a deep dark reddish-tan with a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles and a thin creamy head of off-white bubbles that quickly fades to a thin ring of white on the parameter. No real legs on this one.

S- The big nose of caramel sweet malt with some toasted malt and a faint hint of white raisins are very pleasant. A note of sour mash from the whisky adds a nice compliment. No real alcohol or hops in the nose.

T-The rich sweet toasted malt has a hint of butteryness to it. A finish of faintly smoky oak and some a gentle hint of whisky in the finish. This taste is lighter and more mellow that the nose lead me to believe. The finish has a slight tartness that could be a combination of hops and whisky notes. It is a very pleasant finish.

M- This has a medium-full mouthfeel that is pretty velvety. A faint hint of alcohol warmth is very nice at the finish.

D-This is a great Barley Wine. It has good complexity but the flavors are not overpowering. Very light for a huge, high ABV drink. Age and Lagavulin casks have done some amazing things to this beer.

Photo of Gusler
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After its repudiation of the 275ml brown bottle, it takes up a short-lived residence in my glass a slightly hazy deep brownish-amber color with an appreciable creamy head that slowly erodes leaving a tight skirt of lace to conceal the glass. Oh my what a nose, where does one start with the honey sweetness or with the unmistakable Lagavulin Whiskey aromas, how about the smoked peat, meaty and fruity what a treat for the senses, start is thickly sweet, nicely malted, the top light to moderate in feel. Finish is gentle in its acidity, the hops pushed aside by the oak and whiskey flavors, dry aftertaste that coats the palate and the noticeable tummy warming adds much to the enjoyment of this “ne plus ultra” creation of the brewers’ art.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.83/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The unmistakable, powerful, peat-smoked and salty Islay aroma of the Lagavulin comes through clearly in the nose, and it only gets better from there! It pours a clear (it's been filtered), medium-amber body with a full head of frothy white that drops slowly but leaves little lace. It's creamy and smooth in the mouth with a restrained, fine-bubbled carbonation and full body. The flavor includes a good shot of the Lagavulin as well, and its smokiness and alcohol help to balance and dry the rich, buttered, creamed-honey maltiness... even better, I think, than even the original. It seems lighter, although it's not, because it's more balanced. Yet the intensity of the honeyish Maris Otter malt is still there. And unlike the other versions, the alcohol in this one seems more hidden... hmmm? It's a really interesting take on the already great Harvest Ale! And doubly so for fans of Islay whiskey.

Photo of gentlebubbles
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

Photo of Truh
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Walled him up in the basement with this one on 5/26/2004. 9.3 oz. (275 ml.) bottle poured in a Simon Pearce tankard.

Just a tight circle of carbonation around the edge. Copper, light ruby hue, crystal clear. Little drizzles of bubbles making their way up. Whisky sweetness present in bouquet, and a good deal of floral notes as well. On the mouth, there is no questioning the whisky presence, as well as some peatiness, smoked character. Very smooth, with the whisky scents remaining in the mouth and nostrils afterwards. Wouldn’t have minded if this had been packaged as 12 ozs., but even the small size had the back of my skull tingling. Reminded me of the quote the father said in “28 Days Later” – “Takes out the fire, but leaves in the warmth.”

Photo of Naerhu
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for Robbeer for bringing this all the way to Japan.

Appearance: The most beautiful cognac colored ale, with a beautiful pure white head.
Aroma: Vinous, almost lambic aroma, peet and other whisky notes over a sweet malt aroma.
Taste: Malt and peet flavors. This comes out strong on the peet, and less hoppy barley wine flavors. Lots of honey and acidity.
Mouthfeel: Heavy body, mild carbonation.
Drinkability: This was a great beer, I would love to have regular access to.

Photo of Rastacouere
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear orange, a shade darker than the others apparently, not much head, but at least it tries. Deeply peaty aroma. Finally one of those BA JW Lees lets some uniqueness of character shines through. The vegetal tones I’ve met in the others is there as well, but more subdued amongst the smooth earthy scotch-like profile. Sweet leather and almost cheesy hints adds to the richness. More leather and caramel on the tongue. Very earthy and peaty, smoky even with plenty of iodine medicinal character. Like the others, it remains very syrupy, oily and alcoholic, though perhaps not as stale. Flavourful beer without a doubt.

Photo of meathookjones
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out amber with about an inch and a half of off white head. It shrinks down but manages to keep a small head through the consumption of this brew. Scatterings of lace were left as well on the glass. Strong smells of smoke rise from the glass accompanied by a malty sweetness and a bit of a woody scent. The alcohol and smoke really start to stand out as this warms. Taste is similar to the aroma as the smokiness and sweetness make up the majority of the flavor. There are notes of alcohol as well, this is quite the warming brew good for a cold rainy day. The sweetness is not cloying here like some of the other cask JW’s. Aftertaste is sweet with a slight bite of alcohol. Mouthfeel is syrupy and full. Drinkability was pretty good at first but once it warmed the smokiness and the alcohol were a bit too much. Overall a good brew though.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 410 ratings.