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

BA SCORE
88
very good
512 Ratings
THE BROS
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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
England, United Kingdom
jwlees.co.uk

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
512
Reviews:
277
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
16.67%
 
 
Wants:
40
Gots:
108
For Trade:
8
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Ratings: 512 |  Reviews: 277
Photo of Sammy
3.57/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

 295 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
2.9/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2011.

Pours a murky dark orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of peat, adhesive bandage, Scotch whisky, wood, alcohol, and slight caramel aromas. Taste is much the same with sweet caramel, earth, peat, smoke, Scotch whisky, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice Scotch whisky barrel aged presence that is slightly better in the taste to me.

Serving type: bottle.

 689 characters

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.07/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage. this is another one of those special beers that in each category cant be scored anything too high, but taken on the whole, are quite amazing. this is one of those for sure. it pours clear whiskey color, with almost no head. there are some dark brown yeast floaters at the bottom, and gentle carbonation. it smells like a barleywine, caramely, english malty, and very very sweet. there is also a mature woody aroma, and a great deal of alcohol. it taste very organic, very old, and very sweet. there is a ton of residual sugar here, and an already sweeter malt profile. no hops at all to speak of, and a punishing alcohol sting. the whiskey barrel adds a touch of charcoal and vanilla flavor, and a smoothness of feel. this thing is velvet, even with the abv what it is. carbonation is really mild, so the sugars sort of stay in the mouth awhile. it is about what i expected when i got this, huge and sweet. its got a richness and a certain refined character that set it apart. worth a try if youve got the bucks.

 1,026 characters

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

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of Knapp85
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured out much like the others. The color is a dark orange with a very thin head on top and vanishes quickly. The smell of the beer has a sweet inviting aroma with some boozy qualities on the nose. The taste of the beer has a hefty amount of whiskey notes and sweet malts that are very flavorful. The mouthfeel of the beer is again creamy and smooth. Overall this beer much like the others is quite good, I feel that this one is probably my least favorite though.

 473 characters

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of nmann08
3/5  rDev -24.2%

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.

 395 characters

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is relatively clear amber-orange in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high light beige head that quickly dissipated, leaving wispy lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of peat smoke and scotch in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has lots of flavors of smoked peat and scotch, but these are not overpowering.
M: It feels a bit higher than medium-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation. A little bit of warmth from the alcohol is present.
O: Considering its strength, the alcohol is relatively well hidden from the taste. The interesting smell and taste also make it a nice beer to sip.

 748 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2006: reviewed Nov. 26, 2007
Vintage 2008: revised Sept. 2, 2010

Likely my least favorite of the cask-conditioned varieties offered by J.W. Lees. Of course the base-beer is phenominal, and just mature enough. The character that the Lagavulin whisky seemed to work within the framework of the Barleywine but has a few moments where it seems somewhat overbearing. The flavor of peaty Scotch gives the beer a strong ethynol flavor and feel that interferes slightly with the drinakability. The wood character gives the beer a very bold earthy, woodsy, peaty flavor that edges on fresh oak. The smoke flavor and aroma also persists throughout making the beer more campfire-like. When all the flavors come together, the beer turns out good -- not the normal 'great' that you get from J.W. Lee's, but only good this time. It seems that a couple of years is sorely needed to round the beer out and to meld the flavors together. The previous and younger versions seem overbearing with the Scotch flavor and feel but I didn't get the same impression here.

 1,054 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

C+ / ABOVE AVERAGE

18 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2004; tasted in 2010

Appearance: Burnt caramel color with a rather modest, big-bubbled head (the result of a hard pour) that fails to last very long; not much lace effect, but I wasn't expecting it

Smell: Raisins and caramel apples, with a musty, salty boozy edge; plenty of whisky aromatics

Taste: The raisin and caramel apple flavors jump to the fore, followed by a very smokey, peaty and oaky character; the warmth of the booze becomes apparent by mid-palate and after the swallow, the peat and smoke provide an interesting foil to the sweeter flavors

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation and plenty of warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: I can't help but think that this one was on a bit of a downward slope, given its age, which may have affected the carbonation more than the flavor; having tasted a number of the series in succession, I think the sherry version is my favorite but I almost feel like they would merit a re-visit if they were all about the same age and in the same condition

Note: Re-visiting the 2009 version with two years of age produces a bit more of a carbonated mouthfeel as well as a much stronger smokey/peaty character - bump the mouthfeel and overall by .5

 1,210 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of emerge077
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2-2-2013
After nearly 3 years, revisiting this beer again, this time a 2011 bottle.
Lots more noticeable Lagavulin aroma and taste, a bit of iodine and medicinal peat smoke. Long aftertaste with heavy elements from the whisky cask. Overall it's pretty intense and worth a try if you enjoy Islay whisky. Don't recommend cellaring.

03-06-2010
3.93/5 rDev -0.3%

After trying some exceptional Lagavulin 17 yr., (thanks Aaron) we decided to break out this aged English Barleywine, hoping for some connection.

Pours a tawny ruby, a finger of foam lasted for maybe a minute. Very nice jewel-like clarity, a ring of foam but no lasting head. Some nasty chunks of disturbed yeast in the bottle that thankfully didn't make it into the glass.

Super oxidized, sweet and malty, dominating dried fruit, but somehow a little off.

Fruity flavors of golden raisin (sultana), plum, currants... sweet confections, stewed fruit and baked apples. Not much Scotch character, some dry bitterness in the aftertaste.

Rich and syrupy, a sipper, or maybe best poured over pancakes. Hardy's -esque... defintely a sweet sipper and one to share.

Didn't get much Lagavulin character, will seek out a more recent vintage to re-review.

 1,215 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a cloudy amber color ale with a small foamy head with average retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of sweet English style malt with some whiskey notes. Taste is a complex mix between some sweet English style malt with some distinctive arming notes of whiskey and barley. Full body with limited filtration and average carbonation but no apparent alcohol. Very well done but I still prefer the Port version.

 419 characters

Photo of zeff80
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

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

275 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2005 vintage. Pours very hazy and cloudy reddish copper color with no head and some minimal lacing bubbles sticking to the side. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, prune, fig, toast, toffee, molasses, oak, whiskey, vanilla, peat, light smoke, and dark earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt notes with barrel character. Taste of big caramel, molasses, toffee, toast, raisin, fig, prune, vanilla, oak, whiskey, peat, light smoke, and dark earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, molasses, toffee, toast, dark fruits, vanilla, oak, whiskey, light smoke, and earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice balance and complexity of malt notes with dark fruits; with a fair amount of barrel character that isn’t overwhelming; and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Minimal carbonation and full bodied; with a creamy, slick, and fairly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice English barleywine. All around nice balance and complexity of malt and barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on slowly. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,185 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
2.31/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2010 vintage courtesy of starrdogg at last night's barrel-aged barleywine tasting. Served in a SAVOR snifter.

Pours a bright, clear copper color with a bit of an orange tint to it. Slight head and a few bubbles before falling into a thin collar.

The nose carries quite a bit of whiskey character that is quite divergent from the typical American bourbon. I don't know too much about spirits, but the difference is noticeable, especially when contrasted with all the bourbon-barrel beers we had.

Nothing too complex, and the barrel brings quite a bit of peat character without the caramel malt that is standard for the style and for the base beer. Very woody. Flavor is similarly quite peaty and harsh with much of anything from the underlying beer coming through. Bitter and slightly astringent in the finish.

Overall, not very impressed with this; I enjoy the regular version much, much more.

 898 characters

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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 512 ratings.
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