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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

400 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 400
Reviews: 246
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 17.6%
Wants: 31
Gots: 62 | FT: 4
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: 400 | Reviews: 246 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

EPseja, Nov 11, 2005
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!!!

ChainGangGuy, Oct 31, 2005
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.

CortexBomb, Sep 29, 2005
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.

Sephiroth, Sep 20, 2005
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.

Brian700, Aug 30, 2005
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?

kaimcm, Aug 24, 2005
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.

GCBrewingCo, Aug 07, 2005
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.

rhoadsrage, Aug 01, 2005
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.

Gusler, Jul 03, 2005
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.

NeroFiddled, May 20, 2005
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.

gentlebubbles, Apr 24, 2005
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.”

Truh, Apr 15, 2005
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.

Naerhu, Apr 12, 2005
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.

Rastacouere, Jan 22, 2005
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.

meathookjones, Oct 20, 2004
Photo of StuFox
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was very happy with the texture and thickness of the beer, but was disappointed by the lack of complexity in the flavor. The smoke was there, but unlike the scotch it wasn't peaty in the sense that the planty and woody flavors weren't mixed in with the smoke. Ultimately the beer manages to get across a Lagavulin feel if not actually the flavor. The achohol taste takes a backseat to the ale flavor, which keeps the beer very drinkable even at 11.5%.

StuFox, Aug 26, 2004
Photo of aracauna
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was expecting more whiskey in the nose and the flavor here, but this lightly carbonated, sweet honey-colored brew uses the whiskey as more of a note than a blare. The alcohol aroma could easily be coming from the beers own substantial ABV. Honey, sweet caramel malt and alcohol dominate the aroma and flavor with a bit of a clean bitterness finishing up the flavor.

aracauna, Aug 24, 2004
Photo of ppoitras
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

9.3oz bottle from Vienna Whole Foods, Vienna, VA.

Poured into a Rapscallion snifter, formed a 1/8" sparse and SHORT-LIVED head over the clear copper brew, with no lacing to speak of. Will try to forgive some of this as a style trait. Slightly smoky aroma of sweet alcohol, with whiskey leanings, as expected. Taste also shares the smoky flavor of the nose, and the alcohol is obviously present, but not overpowering (see: The Beast/Avery). A nice, slow-sipping brew for in front of the fire, or in my case tonight, while catching up on poker I have taped on tv. For the style, mouthfeel and drinkability good to excellent.

Edit: As it warmed even further toward RT, smoke and alcohol became much more intense, severely affecting the mouthfeel and drinkability at that point.

ppoitras, Aug 12, 2004
Photo of putnam
4.83/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think my friends who dismiss this beer need to save their poison for really misguided oak+classic fusions such as de Dolle special reserva. I find nothing at all wrong with dressing a monstrously sweet, honey flavored strong ale with the earthy discipline of peat smoke. Western Isles scotch distillers do it to their elixirs for a similar reason. Also, I suggest letting a bottle of this beer sit open for a day or ten. Oxygen has a way of integrating the honey and dirty flavors in a way that positively reveals this beer's noble heritage.

This may be a somewhat controversial beer style, but I believe it is a marked improvement upon the basic JW Lees Vintage ale. Something happened in the barrel to dry out this otherwise overly sweet beer. The aromas are stunning. Complex, calm and natural with little curls of smoke, moss, honey and biscuits, there is a virtual scenario of salty sea breezes and nubile flesh that enraptures one's senses. Kind, shepherded, organic lusciousness cradles the palate until a wry twist of birch beer candy announces itself on the finish. A surprisingly delicious strong beer.
____

After 24 hours open at room temperature:
Still shocking in its cthonic depth of bog smoke flavors. Only this has faded in perfect proportion to the relaxation of syrup flavor. The conversion seems to have resulted in greater, more voluminous texture. Something about "smoke" flavor triggers - I'm certain of it - one's carniverous instincts. It seems more appropriate to chew, rather than drink this beer. And after all, it is utterly packed with dense, clarified butter flavors in a way that evoked images of campfires, garlic and seaweed.

Bound to turn many off, just as Lagavulin scotch turns many off. I only caution, don't dismiss the aging potential of either.

putnam, Jul 28, 2004
Photo of Afterburner
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Small, thin head. Minimal head retention. Somewhere between light tan and gold in appearance. If it were darker, it would be amber colored. If it were lighter, it would be pale ale in color.

Smell: Woo! Strong alcohol texture, with definite overtones of whisky. Some woody textures come through, along with a restrained malt presence and a vinous complexity.

Taste: Creamy malt character at the forefront, along with wine-like notes. Mid palate picks up a lot of rounded fruitiness and complexity, accompanied by a pungent alcohol burn. The alcohol continues throughout the finish. The bittering hops also show up at the end.

Mouthfeel: Silky, thick, and viscous.

Drinkability: Mmmm. I am quickly coming to the conclusion that J.W. Lees is the Dogfish analogue for the UK. They're creative, adventurous, and put out consistently high quality beer.

Afterburner, Jul 26, 2004
Photo of cokes
1.8/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Prism-like toasted golden with a momentary visit of a fizzy white head.
Nose full- and I mean chalk full- of Bac-Os. Underlying bits of honey-sweet malts and an earthy smoke, with obvious Scotch booze traits.
Begins with buckets of gooey, honeyed malts. The ante is upped further with equally sticky brown sugar and browned butter and candied figs. Then it turns into a smoked pork mess. Hickory-y and bacony. Uggghhh.

The Lagy cask strips the malt down to its basest (and in my mind, least attractive) component: raw honey. Then layers a heavy, rauchbier-esque smokiness all over it. Any hopping is obliterated in the process. The barrel provides no subtleties, like, say, many of the bourbon-barrel brews I've tried. It really doesn't have much Scotch-iness. It's most akin to a rauchmead. Or just drinking a pot of hickory-smoked honey.
I love rauch...and enjoy Scotch, but this was forced and artificial, and completely impossible to drink.

Alcohol is noted in the mouth, but not really tasted. But I'd rather taste straight, flammable ethanol than this.
Cloying cubed. It drinks like burnt hair gel.

This ain't getting finished. No way. No how. And not even close.

A waste of a beer.
A waste of a barrel.
A waste of money.
And a waste of time.

Utterly repulsive.

cokes, Jul 04, 2004
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.65/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright deep copper color. It pours with not head, but when roused it forms a tan head. This is quite thick, as I hold it up to the light you can see that the carbonation bubbles are visibly slowed by this viscous substance in my glass. The smell is of salt, scotch, thick malts, alcohol, and butter. I was expecting some smoked peat malt aromas, but I don't detect any. The taste is thick and sweet, with a heartiness and something like a saltiness, which gives this beer a full figured mouthfeel. This is definitely quite tasty, and is a beer that demands to be sipped.

The beer is quite fruity, with notes of concentrated apple, and perhaps a hint of apricot as well. You can taste the alcohol in the finish as well as a bit of tannin, which is probably from the cask conditioning. If I had to guess, I would say that the Scotch adds a heartiness to this beer that compliments it quite well. I really wish I had been able to get more of these so I could age a few and see how they change over time. This is a very well integrated strong ale, just incredibly malty with a nice kiss of hops.

Gueuzedude, Jun 12, 2004
Photo of Eyedrinkale
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured an almost gold color with a very small head. Aroma of light smokiness and believe it or not, Lavavulin. The taste was like other JW Lees Harvests with the same smokiness of the aroma, in the taste. Warm and smooth. I had to try it alongside the scotch, as I have a bottle on hand. Although young, worth drinking now and once matured. A true gem.

Eyedrinkale, May 25, 2004
Photo of Wildman
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Okay, being a single malt scotch fan, I just had to break down and try this one despite the sticker shock. I am a particular fan of the Islay Island style of scotch like Lagavulin. This small bottle poured an amber gold color, forming a nice small foamy off white heat that coated the glass with lace as it slowly sudsided. A heavy, slow moving stream of bubbles was the carbonated lure of this one. An aroma of malt, some caramel and the elements that could only be the Lagavulin, but I do not know if it would be detectable by non scotch drinkers. It would definately still be seen as a wiskey aroma. The flavor was of malt, caramel and scotch wiskey. A cramy sweet finish with a warming feel of the alcohol that is definately present in this one. This one would no doubt be better with age.

Wildman, May 24, 2004
Photo of Dantes
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Package:275 ml brown, crowned bottle, much like a 7/8ths scale longneck. Parchment-like, cream-colored label with beige lettering. Boldly labelled “Harvest Ale 2003" and Lagavulin.”

Cost: NA

Presentation: Riedel Port glass at ~50°

Appearance: The appearance of this barley wine is not substantially different from the standard offering, at most a touch darker. It exhibited the expected tightly-packed beige head, with finely-gauged bubbles and an auburn, russet body.

Smell: Lagavulin is a powerful whisky with which I’m very familiar and its iodiney, sea-salt, and smoke are easily recognizable in this barley wine’s bouquet. I maybe oversensitized to this, but I found it to be absolutely lovely within the already existent fruity, biscuity malts and muted hoppy tang.

Taste: A marriage made in heaven. The smokiness of the whisky amplifies the already present toast and tobacco in the ale, while adding a tanginess. In addition, the somewhat cloying aspects of this young brew are ameliorated by the tempering influence of the whisky. I can only imagine what some age will do to this! The finish is long, warming, smoky, and hauntingly lingering.

Mouthfeel: The Lagavulin version of this does not seem much different than the previous expressions: not appreciably “hotter” on the palate, it exhibits the same velvety, warm, finely-carbonated mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This one I could drink all night (until I’m comatose at least). As much as I like single malts, this might even improve upon the experience. My next one will certainly be accompanied by an aged Havana.

Backwash: This expression is certainly “primus inter pares” amongst the special offerings. In fact, it’s such a good combination, that I might take a page from Drewbage1847's book and start adding a little whisky to most of my future Harvest Ales. Like the marriage of Port and stout, this one is a real winner. I think I’d buy the mixed case of these if I could substitute 3 more Lagavulins for the Calvados. Aged versions of this are likely to provide some serious fireworks.

Dantes, May 07, 2004
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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 400 ratings.