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

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BA SCORE
89
very good
266 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
266
Ratings:
474
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
22.73%
 
 
Wants:
39
Gots:
94
For Trade:
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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask)
BEER INFO

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Dantes on 05-07-2004

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Reviews: 266 | Ratings: 474
Photo of dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a golden orange to amber in color with light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a quarter finger off-white to beige head that quickly dissipates to a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of smokey peat and scotch whiskey (likely from the barrel aging). There is a very light underlying sweetness.

T: Starts off with some light amount of sweetness that is followed by heavy amounts of peat smoke and whiskey. There is also a very light hint of vanilla in the flavor as well.

M: On the heavier side of medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Very light amounts of alcohol heat.

O: Very little alcohol in the smell/taste/mouthfeel which is surprising considering the high ABV.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Max's in Baltimore. Not a big whisky drinker at all, so not sure of the "Lagavulin" taste, but this was a damn tasty beer that's for a sipper for sure. Full flavored and full bodied, with a nice woodsy kick to it, would be a great nightcap and is a delicious barleywine. Would be interesting to compare this at the same time with the other whisky casks... although quite dangerous.

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Photo of rodlavers
4.7/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2007, poured into a Founders snifter

A. No head or lacing. Perfect caramel scotch coloring, a bit of yellow wen viewed in direct light; translucent. Plenty of sediment floating aroun in there.

S. Lagavulin and peat. Yum.

T. Warm Lagavulin favors, smoke and peat flavors dominate. This is delicious.

M. Very smooth. Syrupy and sweet.

O. This is a great beer. Will need to find it again. At 11.5% ABV, there is a definite warming effect that I enjoyed.

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Photo of Skull40
4.77/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2007

The appearance is a copper color with very little head retention and not much carbonation either.

There is a wonderfully strong smell of Lagavulin scotch. I am also picking up the smells of peat and vanilla.

The taste includes a strong Lagavulin, along with vanilla, oak, peat, pear, honey and apricots.

The beer is quite viscous.

Overall, I loved this! I'm a scotch lover and Lagavulin is one of my favorites. If you like scotch, there's a good chance you'll like this beer. The many complimentary tastes work wonderfully in concert and make this a very pleasurable drink.

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Photo of farrago
4.29/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serious amount of sediment, like where’s the cheesecloth? Otherwise, bright and clear amber orange coloration with a reddish cast, close to total absence of any head or lacing, even a vigorous swirl gets you nothing, no bubbles visible, looks dead in terms of carbonation. The nose is highly aggressive and gets right in there, beef jerky, leather, pork rinds, candied orange peels, vanilla pudding, very heady and boozy, poached apricots and peaches, honey and licorice, deserves to be allowed to come close to room temperature to truly strut its stuff. Medium-bodied, while heavy in some respects not leaden and certainly moves agilely while it stays aligned with its overall goals. The gamey, leathery qualities persist, it’s like having a smokehouse in your mouth, is this liquid pork? The dried fruit quality peach, apricot, nectarine, apple fruit thick and viscous start to finish. Here the caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, cola bean oak dominant, particularly as it warms. This is a beer meant to be slowly sipped in front of a roaring fire with a cigar in hand. Smoky with its own tobacco and ash qualities. Has to be taken at face value, there’s no great beers, just great bottles of beers. Psyche. (2007 Release)

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Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2005 version... I was 15 when this beer was bottled... I'm old. Poured into a white wine glass.

A: The most subtle carbonation. Lighter than the calvados version, this beer being a stale blood color. Redish light brown orange. Hazy.

S: Boozy for sure. Sweet. Oak. Certainly powerful but seems somewhat controlled. The alcohol seems to overpower.

T: Oh that's nice. Much sweeter than the calvados but a great progression of flavors. This is prime: likely due to the old age letting those flavors really develop. Hits first with a sugary sweetness almost like figs or so. Then fades to oak, a kiss of alcohol that fades back to sweetness. Grape... The finish leaves a little bitter sting in the back of my mouth.

M: Perfect here. Sits with a big full body. The good flavors develop with that sweetness really coming through.

Overall this is really great. Certainly a sipper. The biggest downfall here is a that gritty bitterness that sits on the back of the palate on the finish. The sweetness is certainly the key player here. Worth checking out if you're feeling bold.

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Photo of haazer
4.6/5  rDev +16.2%
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!!

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Regular old JW Lee's is outstanding, so what can a whisky cask do to make the flavor different but still awesome? Served on-tap at Beachwood BBQ in a 10 ounce glass, on to the beer:

Looks dark orange with a small head on top that slowly drops to a semi-creamy lace. The nose smells like good scotch, and it also offers notes of plum, and fruity yeast. It gets better, but in its taste. There's sweet whisky upfront, loads of delicious malt, more fruitiness, and well hidden alcohol. It's full bodied and covers all over your palate.

This was my first time in the cask series of JW Lee's. While I prefer the original over the Lagavulin, make no mistake that this is delicious beer.

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Photo of sulldaddy
2.55/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2007 vintage aged in my cellar.

Poured into a snifter at cellar temperature. THe brew pours a rich warm chestnut hue with very minimal fizzy head foaming up and fading to nothing in short time. Some small chunks are suspended in the beer but I decant carefully leaving about a 1/2 oz of dredges in the bottle.
Aroma is rich malty with molasses, deep boozy whisky notes and dark fruit. Seems like it will be hot and burny on the swallow just from the nose. I also get small amounts of burnt wood in the background but this is definitely not a dominant scent.
First sip reveals a sticky syrupy texture with very faint gentle almost non-existent carbonation.

Flavor is sweet malt briefly with brown sugar and dark fruit but moves to a lot of fusol heat and earthy peat burnt wood hits. Fairly big flavor profile and finishes hot and makes this a sipping beer for certain. Almost more like a tumbler of scotch than snfiter of beer, and this has cellared for 5 years, cant imagine how hot it is fresh. The finish is actually a little medicinal and bitter, not from hops in my opinion but more the black pepper, alcohol bitter flavor.
While I expected some boozy notes on this beer the whisky is just a little too much for me and reduces the enjoyability of the beer for me. Others may really enjoy it, but you would have to like scotch to really like this beer.
I wont pick up this beer again and leave the bottle fairly disappointed in how unbalanced the beer and whisky qualities are displayed in the brew.

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Photo of vivasbeer
1.13/5  rDev -71.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2009 9.3oz bottle

All kinds of chunky bits floating around

Smelled like a Meat Smoke house. If I wanted Bacon, or Smoked sausage I would have bought that.

Taste was god awful. Like an old campfire that had been extinguished with brown dirty lake water. I am gagging just remembering it.

Overall it was the worst beer I've ever had.

Easy decision = Drain Pour

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Photo of cbutova
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Celebrating 10 Pittsburgh goals since they will probably lose the series and I needed a reason to drink this beer for the Penguins. Next year I guess.

2007 vintage.

A- Poured into my small Cigar City snifter with a dark red-brown colored body. Small tan head forms but doesn't really build much and eventually disappears completely, five year old barrel aged beer makes sense. Some chunks floating around and no lace.

S- Nice smoky whiskey meets halfway with a big, sweet barleywine. Leathery peat campfire notes blended with deep caramel sweets, dark fruit and raisin. Fades a bit.

T- As I have noticed with other versions of this beer, big on the sweetness. It is a bit much for me but the overall flavor of the beer is quite nice. Again, the Lagavulin lends peat smoke, burning campfire, some seaweed and oak notes. Big sweet caramel barleywine with dark cherry and raisin hints.

MF- Thick and slick oily body with carbonation on the low end. Sweet feel on the palate with alcohol warmth.

I love Lagavulin and this delivers great flavors from that whiskey. The JW Lees sweetness still carries in but the whiskey use here just rocks.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage. Thanks Jay!

A: Pours a murky iced-tea color with a thin bubbly collar for a head. I left a ton of yeast in the bottle.
S: A very rich and decadent beer. I get notes of butterscotch, caramel, leather, whisky barrel, raisins, cocoa powder and dark fruits. Not getting much oxidation.
T: Better than the nose. Very sweet and sugary notes of caramel and fruit syrup. Hop resin, butterscotch, toffee, leather, and milk chocolate come through nicely, with hints of earthy peat, apple cider, and honey. Finish is sticky syrupy sweet with flavors of whisky. Aftertaste lingers.
M: Very thick and syrupy mouthfeel, warming alcohol, very low carbonation and a full and heavy body.
O: A great thick little sipper. Very syrupy and smooth. Alcohol warmth is very mellow. Peat flavors are unique but easy to get used to. Pretty good all around.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

vintage 2010.

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: murky light brown bodied beer that almost looks like apple cider. 1 and a half fingers of head that drops down to a thin cap. lace is thin and spotty.

Smell: Its interesting with a really busy / complex nose. Malty and even a little bit fruity. Smoke, charcoal, earthy, peat moss, and scotch / whiskey notes.

Taste: This beer has a fairely sweet malt profile. Caramel and apples upfront and mostly what I get out of the malt profile. Midpalate the barrel notes show up in the form of heavy wood and earthiness; a little bit of vanilla and even honey adding richness to this already sweet beer. Finish is all about the smoke, you start to get hints of it midpalate, but really starts to build into the finish. The smoke tastes like bacon and is a "meaty" smoke note. Lots of complexity.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied beer with a low end of moderate carbonation. Slick and sticky and thick. Almost syrup here, but it well carbonated so it does quite get all the way there to syrupy mouthfeel.

Overall: Good beer with nice complexity, but the bottom line is...its too sweet for me(never thought I could say this about an english barleywine). I really enjoy this beer style alot, but its just a little over the top sweet.

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Photo of Holland
1.87/5  rDev -52.8%
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.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a copperish body with minimal head on top of a strong whiskey/oak aroma, with a think yeast aroma as well (and touches of honey and sugary sweetness (and black cherry?)). The yeast sediment sticks to the bottom and slowly dissolves every time I take a sip...thick, sticky, has a boozy but not medicinal taste - the sweet malts are great and this is a very sweet and sturdy beer (a great after lunch sipper). Slightly warming as I sip - real nice finish. No dry or bitterness as hops barely noticeable, but a real good sweet and malty beer to relax with.

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Photo of maximum12
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my favorite wife for this bottle, part of a lovely Christmas box. 9.3 oz. bottle popped to end a nice Saturday evening, 2007 vintage.

Pours with massive floaties, Sediment Gone Wild! Yeasties slowly settle to the bottom of the glass in a caramel-colored brew. Smell is strong whiskey, very distinctive, not at all like the standard barrel-aged American beers. Smoky & sweet.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagaluvin Whiskey Cask) is uniquely English. Having a problem locating the word until looking at the other reviews: peat. Yup. Burning peat bog. Sweet, sweet, almost honeyed malts. Underneath, all sorts of more subtle feelings. Caramel, slightly herbal, additional honey. Very nice. Pretty flat & heavy, but no problem taking this small bottle down.

This beer really grew on me as it warmed & I moved through it. The unusual whiskey is really nice, the complexities lovely. Really good beer that's licking the boot of excellent; looking forward to the other varietals.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 bottle, poured into a Bruery glass, not too cold.

Deep, glowing amber color, quite attractive. Some chunkies due to not pouring carefully. The great color is not obscured by any head.

Rich aroma of caramel and nuts, with a bright fresh fruitiness like a mixture of agave, Bing cherry, and lemon peel. A welcome hint of nutty, sherrylike oxidization. Hints of soot and sea air, but less indication of peaty Scotch barrel than I was expecting. Nonetheless, really good and complex.

Tastes like big sweet malt up front, sticky toffee pudding and fresh cherries, and then the whisky barrel comes in and builds gradually. The barrel treatment certainly comes through more on the palate than on the nose, mature Scotch with industrial smoke and salty ocean air, nicely restrained and a great complement to the sweet fruity malt. Long, long finish, with the smoke building, becoming almost completely dry with only peat smoke and roasted nuts lingering at the very end, amazing after such a sweet attack. Very tasty stuff, with great balance and complexity.

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Photo of MBrausen
4.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage bottle poured into a CBS Sniffer.

A. Beautiful red hue, thin layer of head even with an aggressive pour. Head faded quickly to a clean as glass surface.

S. Smells of sweet fruit, cherries, sour. Very much like sherry, and nearing the smell of a sour.

T. Very sweet, light cherry, a little honey and and a tiny bit tart. Noticeable charred oak after taste along with some chocolate. Mild whiskey taste, but very well balanced. This is one of the better additions of whiskey I have ever had. After 2 years, it has clearly mellowed to an ideal balance.

M. Medium body, watery with a coarse slightly dry finish. A little chewy. Thick without being hard.

O. This is a very good barelywine to me. I think 2 years was perfect for this one. Minimal alcohol with a fair amount of barrel really make this a pleasure to drink. You do not taste the 11.5% at all. If this wasn't so spendy, I would have a fridge full of it.

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Photo of DIM
2.52/5  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.

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Photo of fx20736
3.43/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into a pint glass,served near room temp.

Bronze Orange, no head, I decanted bottle slowly, leaving maybe 11 oz in the bottle along with alot of sediment which may have reduced head somewhat.

Aroma: A much more appealing bouquet than the others. I can't identify but there is a woddy aroma, a fruitiness and something else...

mouthfeel: soft and syrupy

taste: Oaky and smoky with the Scotch coming on the tail.

Notes: The best of the JWL Cask Aged Barleywines but not very 'beer-like'. This definitely taste like Scotch but if I want Scotch, I'll drink it, not beer.

So my vertical tasting of all four of these is complete. Like the Rochefort tasting this was a bust. I am glad I did it but won't buy these again.

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Photo of KyleDS
3.33/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

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Photo of Phelps
4.11/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Enjoyed at the 2011 RAREaffair. Poured into a tasting glass.

The color of iced tea, a dark orange with perfect clarity but no head. 2.5

The nose is packed with heavy smoky peat, caramel, brown sugar and molasses. Hard to get past the peat, but I'm not complaining — it's quality stuff.

The flavor is peat plus apple brandy plus sugar. The standard heavy JW Lees sweetness that usually overpowers the palate actually works well with the smoke, being tempered by it. Burnt sugar notes and some semblance of earthy hop bitterness come through, though there’s not much. Complex.

Sugary, thick medium body; prickly medium-light carbonation. Alcohol fumes come through the nose, but they’re fairly light and are hidden by the hefty sweetness.

If there's one liquor that works with the uber-sweet Harvest Ale, an islay scotch is it. Great mix of sweet and smoky.

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Photo of ficknish
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005

A - Darker copper. No head.

S - Peat. Wood. Soil. Earthy sweetness.

T - Peat. Whiskey. Butterscotch. Cake. Molasses.

M - Medium body. Sweet finish.

O - A fine beer. The peat smells and flavors are nothing I've ever seen in a beer before. Very interesting indeed. I enjoyed the earthy sweetness and peat smokiness together. Might drink again.

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Photo of Greencoat
4.39/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
2.75/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 9.3oz brown pop top with really classy, minimalist label; 2008 vintage...was saving this, but decided to pop it after a very bad day.

Appearance: Slightly murky beer, the color of hardened amber, with a slight off-white cap...was surpised at the levels of carbonation still here, actually. Did my best to keep the floaties (of which there were a BUNCH) in the bottom of the bottle, but a few flakes made it into the beer.

Smell: Sweet candied red fruits and sweet, sugary alcohol lead the way. Then comes the barrel character, with a hit of earthy, damp smokiness. This smells like it may be a brusier. Not tons of depth, but fairly pleasant.

Taste: The initial taste is sweet, toffee/cherry, and then WHAM. Just as you think, 'hey, this is good' it hits you. Smoke. Let me repeat. Smoke...and not just 'we threw some rauch or peated malt in here'. It's intense and overpowering, and this is coming from a guy who appreciates a good single malt. Oddly, it doesn't really strike me as a peaty smoke, though I know it is...it's woody, meaty, and almost camp fire-like. I think what makes it so overpowering is that there's the smokiness is combined with the huge sweetness of this beer. It does mellow with sipping (or maybe that's just my tongue throwing in the towel) but it's just too much. Oddly enough, this reminds me forcefully of the aromas (so thick you could almost taste it) of my late grandad's wood-burning stove in the shed where he kept his antique gasoline engines. I think, honestly, the happy memories of hanging out down in the shed in the winters, shooting the shit w/my dad and gramps is the only thing that really appeals to me about this beer. Otherwise, it's just kinda over the top. Which is too bad, because I have a feeling there's a REALLY good barleywine under here...

Mouthfeel: Rich, viscous, almost sticky sweet

Overall: This one ran me about $10.00...would I do it again? Nope. Would I get a regular JW Lees after trying this? You bet!

Oh, and I bet this would make a KILLER barbecue sauce...

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 266 ratings.