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

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

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

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: 276 | Ratings: 508
Photo of VoxRationis
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2013 per label; decanted into a conical pint. Pours a cloudy copper color, clearing somewhat at edge; little or no head, lacing, or legs. Nose: somewhere between a bourbon and sherry; palate: very sweet, caramel flavor with whiskey and peat notes. Sharp, full mouthfeel. Enjoyed it; not for dinner. More for an aperitif or dessert.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
4.6/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2010 consumed on March, 2 2017.

This pours a murky brown color. There is really no head, but there's some carbonation in the glass. The nose is very rich with notes of the barrel ageing. The taste is really interesting. It starts out with, almost a smoke flavor. It then turns into a smooth flavor. It then morphs into a sight booze feeling from the barrel. I've never had it younger, or older, but I think I popped this at the right time. It is such an easy drinking beer with 7 years on it. Damn amazing!

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.16/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle, brewed in 2014, served in a Gordon's Highland Scotch ale thistle glass. The stamp on the bottle cap had the following: L4730 10:43

Appearance: Translucent golden amber. Initial thin white foam died back to nothing. No lacing.

Smell: Smoky, oak, metallic, a hint of alcohol and a hint of toffee.

Taste: Very nice. Buttery toffee, grapes, molasses, scotch whisky, peaty smokiness at the finish. Rich.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and creamy - nice thickness. Tiniest bit of carbonation. Warming with that scotch whisky bite.

Overall / Drinkability: A very slow sipping beer. A nice treat that was better in taste and mouthfeel than it was in appearance and smell. This is a very good English barleywine, but I think Lagavulin, as much as I like that smoky scotch, isn't a perfect match for this. Unique and glad I tried it, but I probably won't get it again. For scotch aged ales, I think I prefer the Olah Dubh line of old ales. Now there would be a good aging for a barleywine....

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Photo of JackRWatkins
4.61/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottle

A: has a lighter, woody, red-brown color with a quickly dissipating (almost nonexistent) thin white head
S: smells of butterscotch and toffee right off with a boozy note that follows and some very subtle tones that are suggestive of smokiness (almost like charred wood)
T: sweet (okay, very sweet) but savory, with that wonderful charred wood smokiness from the nose showing up here only more present (the flavor of this beer is almost visually evocative), the butterscotch and toffee are also here and very nice but the smoky bitterness takes center stage, creating both a unique and remarkably invigorating experience
M: quite dry, but not too much so
O: this was my first experience with JW Lees and with pure English beer to be honest (I've explored a lot of beer from every major beer producing country but never really took an interest in English beer), and this is phenomenal, I don't know how available this is, I wasn't looking for it when I found it, but it did not seem to be in short supply, but get it if you can. Side note, this and uerige doppelsticke belong in a similar conversation because while they go about it different ways they both seem to be reaching for similar things

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Photo of Beersnake1
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2004 vintage poured from fridge temp (and allowed to warm) into a tulip. No sound when I took the cap off, and the carbonation was non-existent when poured. The smell is dramatic, and full of dark fruits. Barrel doesn't come through on nose, but blackberries, cherries, and toffee are incredibly strong. Taste is fantastic - reminds me of a thick malt beverage. This tastes old! Sweet, dark fruits, and sweet again. Very nice experience, and would love to have another one in 10 years.

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Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours murky, amber-orange in color with no head. Taste is big, high quality whiskey, light wood, and caramel. I like whiskey so this one is right up there with my favorites in the JW Lees barleywines that I have tried lately. Well worth a try.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.52/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer really didn't sit well with me. It has the classic look & feel of the Harvest Ale series, but it is such a sweet & decadent beer, and to me it just doesn't mix well with the heavy peat smokiness of the Lagavulin. It's too much of a styles clash to overcome. Your milage will very depending on how you feel about Lagavulin, but I'm not a fan & certainly not with how it butts heads with the softer, sweeter tones of the harvest ale

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brewed in '13 per the label.
Pours a burnt orange. Looks decent.
Smells quite smokey and of peat. Lots of nice smoke though.
Sweet-tasting and of smoked malts, with some sugary caramel and nutty notes. On the sweeter side, yet very interesting with this refined campfire smoke. As I approach each sip, for a moment, it's almost as if I'm about to sip amaretto, and then comes the smoke with the brown sugar-like sweetness.
Feels medium and slick with low carbonation. Nice light burn at the end, although this sips dangerously easy with well-hidden alcohol.
Different type of barley wine to try, as I've never had an English version that I can recall.
I may check out their other versions.
Recommended, but you must like the sweet ones.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.69/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage.

Look: Thin white head, orange-brown body. Kind of an ugly color.

Smell: Roasted chestnuts, burnt caramel, lots of peat.

Taste: Same as above, but also dates, leather, wood, and a hint of orange. The flavor of the chestnuts is really upfront.

Feel: Sweet, low carbonation, medium-full body, warming alcohol. The finish is slightly dry.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is the 4th rendition of Lee's Harvest Ale I've Had. Three times I've Had this rendition aged in Scotch barrels. This one was from 2010. I think it was ready. And I think I've had enough for a few years.
I drink Scotch far less than when I bought this vintage. (Perhaps my buds are going through a phase.)
However, this barleywine went superb with a chocolate pecan pie infused with bourbon.
Shared three-ways, a rich dessert met its match.

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Photo of tlema1
4.07/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: muddy brown, thin tan head
S: scotch whisky, and caramel sweetness
T: booze, peat, smoke, malt...great sipper
F: after taste lingers
O: 2013 vintage, expensive, but highly recommended

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Photo of zonker17
4.63/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2014, consumed 2/17/16. Disclaimer: Lagavulin is among my favorite of Scotch, and Scotch is my favorite of whisky. Pours opaque lighter brown with a touch of foam. Smells like heaven, the barrel very present along with the malts of the ale. Taste is a perfect combination of the peaty, smoky, woody characteristics of the barrel along with the sweet but not too sweet ale. Finish slightly bitter. Lightly carbonated with a full mouthfeel. Will seek more.

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Photo of CoreyC
4.41/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage
A - Beautiful golden/orange/amber color with a nice head that dissipates fairly quickly
A - Sweet with a unique aroma
T - Sweet, as smooth as it gets, with a sweet unique taste - I'm thinking of shreaded mini wheats
M - Nice, smooth
O - Very unique taste and aroma - very good

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Photo of HappyGuy12345
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Review of 2014 Vintage poured into a pint glass
Appearance: Solid brown with minimal head
Smell: Strong oak and powerful whiskey scent
Taste: Initially sugary and fruity followed by complex array of malty flavors
Mouthfeel:: Very light carbonation
Overall: Very interesting beer overall. Certainly not a beer that you can have more than one per sitting, since the flavors do tend to overwhelm the palate.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.69/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

In review is a 2010 Vintage.

A - Pours a hazy amber brown color, no carbonation, no lacing.

S - Lots of smokey charcoal, roasted brown sugar, and charred oak.

T - Very charcoal, oak, and smoke forward followed with toasted brown sugar, molasses, and whisky.

M - Thick and full body, bone dry finish, sticky on the lips.

O - Good but the charcoal and smoke is far too overpowering.

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Photo of willic
3.28/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

L: Appears Anchient! Cloudy, amber, with whisks of white throughout
S: Truely smells like Lagavulin with beer malt!
T: Complex malty flavors, mildly skunk. I thought hop structure was weak
F: Chewy, low carbonation, creamy
O: I honestly expected much more. I'm glad I tried it, but I will not buy again.

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Photo of tbryan5
4.06/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A peaty, smokey whiskey treat. Not as sweet as the other barrel aged versions. Carbonation is very light. The peat and smoke are well hidden in the nose but really shine on the palate.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The J.W. Lees Harvest aged in Lagavulin Casks was interesting......not many at the table liked this one....I thought it ok.....probably would not order it again. The beer poured a nice amber with no head and no lace. The scent was earthy...other described is as plastic. The taste was very similar to the scent....had a lot of earth to it.....seemed more like scotch than whiskey. The mouthfeel was medium in body with subtle carbonation. Overall it was decent....certainly worth a try....but that is about it.

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Photo of Roguer
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nutty brown brew, translucent if held up to the light, with a bare hint of beige head, quickly reduced to a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass and an oily sheen atop the body.

Caramel, toffee, oak...and whisky. Lots of raw, real whisky. The aroma to the spirit is far clearer and purer than a bourbon barrel aged brew; it really smells like taking a whiff of a whisky bottle, plus the aromas of a boiling malt soup (before you add the hops).

Like the other J.W. Lees Harvest ales, this brew is sweet, nutty, and malty. However, the brown sugary sweetness is a little more restrained, as the Lagavulin doesn't add additional sweetness in the same way that port does. What it does add is a smokey, peaty, earthy tone, clearly discernible, building by mid-palate and lasting throughout.

The Scotch isn't nearly as potent and dominant as the aroma indicates, but its influence is impossible to ignore. I've had whisky connoisseur friends tell me that you can really, really tell the difference here - that Lagavulin's inimitable taste is immediately recognizable in this brew. I personally can't tell Lagavulin from Green Label, as I don't like whisky or Scotch, but I can definitely tell you that the effect in this beer is unique.

Beyond the Scotch flavors, this - like the others in this series - is a fairly straightforward, sweet, and malty EBW (fairly close to an Old Ale, really). What it lacks in real complexity, it more than makes up for by providing a sweet and decadent playground for the Lagavulin to dance in. The result is unique.

The flavor of the Scotch can be off-putting to a non-fan, so if you're not already a Scotch/whisky fan, I'd recommend going with one of the others in this series. If, however, you consider yourself a Lagavulin fan, then I'd put this on the "must try" list.

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Photo of drpimento
3.94/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is the 2012 version and it's good. The aroma was overpoweringly scotch, but way more balanced in the flavor. Carbonation was very light and while that can be expected in many BWs, I think a bit more here would have helped. More years on it? Probably mellow the scotch more, but also lose more gas, so a wash. I'd be curious to try one just to see, though. This hasn't been one of my favs of the series.

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Photo of justme
2.85/5  rDev -28%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

English barelywine is one of my favorite styles. That being said, I drink beer. I do not like whiskey. This one tastes like they didn't use empty whiskey casks when aging this. Way too whiskey for my taste. I'll stick with Lees regular Harvest from here on.

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Photo of biegaman
4.36/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This 2011 Vintage of J.W. Less Harvest Ale aged in Lagavulin casks is far lighter than I recall others being. Its radiant kumquat colour and tidy complexion suggest a light, fresh, still vibrant ale despite that it's nearly five years old, reaches well into double-digit alcohol and was aged in barrels formerly containing a nearly 90 proof spirit. It's not too early to say it: Ron Swanson would be impressed.

I can imagine why J.W. Less Lagavulin finish isn't necessarily as well received as the Port, Sherry or even Calvados versions - this shares every bit the peaty, briny, iodine-like characteristics of this iconic but notoriously love-or-hate Islay scotch. While the smoke and sea spray are unavoidable, the aroma also provides plenty of dried fruitiness and rich butterscotch- and toffee-like malts.

There's such a presence of candied cherries and apricot that the alcohol (11.5%) goes almost entirely unremarked, especially as the finish treats us to such fresh, ripe flavours of peach and green apple. While vegetal seaweed and mossy peat notes do set-in like a rising tide, leaving briny, smoky qualities to envelop the aftertaste, here that classic Islay expression is not so severe as drinking the scotch itself.

Indeed, no coughing is incited. No burning is sensed. What's the opposite of all that? The mouth-coating peat and oil notes are absorbed into a marmalade-like sweetness, meaning the tastes of grilled bacon and salty seaweed can be appreciated without the sledgehammer punch. This is the furthest thing from medicinal, brooding, growling or grungy. It's candied profile is smooth as a baby's... forehead.

If ever there were a beer (not named Orval) good enough to anoint Christ's feet, surely, J.W. Lees Lagavulin Cask Harvest Ale is it. Granted, I'm a fan of peaty, smoky Islay scotches but I also know from painful experience when a barrel-aged beer experiment works and where/why they too often fail. But this dance with the devil paid off - old J.W. clearly knows what works for his ale.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.37/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

It has a bright clear gold/copper colour with a small head of foam that shrinks quickly but not entirely.

Aboot a 50 50 mix of caramel malt and Whiskey in the smell. Dried pitted fruits make up the balance of the nose except for some light smokiness.

Very very sweet up front. Whiskey moves in and somewhat tames the sugary sweetness but not quite. Hints of pitted fruits abound but never get that obvious to my palate. I feel the light peat flavour that I also get is a plus.

Close to full bodied with light carbonation and a heap of warming after the swallow.

2012 and a goodish brew but I would be lying if I said I would buy it again.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours hazy amber with a thin white film on top.
S: Smells like Lagavulin with some fruit in the background with traces of vanilla.
T: Lagavulin is also all over the palate joined by complex malts, caramel and vanilla, peat and salt spray. A light hop accent in the background.
F: Chewy, low carbonation, warming.
O: One of the nicer things done to a used Lagavulin barrel.

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Photo of Jeffsta1
3.57/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep dark amber/tan color. Promises a lot. Beautifully unfiltered.

Smell: unfamiliar. Wild. Kind of good? Malt, sweet oranges. Whah?

Taste: Kind of cloyingly sweet, honeyed. Definite hints of wheat, grain. This is novel but I paid $9 for this beer, I really want it to taste better than this. I'm not sure what it'd be for a beer to be evocative of whisky - I love the idea, I enjoy Islay whisky - but this beer doesn't do it for me.

Mouthfeel: pretty good, actually. Rich. Carbonation is beautiful.

Overall: Not gonna finish this one. Too much sugar and booze for a beer I don't enjoy a lot.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
3.96 out of 5 based on 508 ratings.
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