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

BA SCORE
89
very good
276 Reviews
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
Reviews:
276
Ratings:
508
Avg:
3.96
pDev:
16.92%
 
 
Wants:
40
Gots:
109
For Trade:
9
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Reviews: 276 | Ratings: 508
Photo of jmdrpi
4.48/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage, 275mL bottle, poured into a snifter

appears a muddy opaque medium brown color, not really any head. yeast floaties. huge wonderful aroma of raisins, fig, burnt sugar, wood. similar notes in the taste. very complex, yet smooth. no alcohol heat. medium body, but it's viscous and coats the mouth. low carbonation, fits the beer.

overall - great, but I think I prefer the regular version.

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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.

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Photo of Etan
2.35/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

9.3oz bottle into a snifter. 2007 bottle.

A: Pours an orange-tinged red with a small head of coarse white bubbles. Lots of sediment.

S: Grapey, oxidation, very sweet. Figs and grapes.

T: Sweet maltiness at first - lots of raisins and whatnot. Oxidized. Then stale peat. A bit of a skunky finish to it.

M: Syrupy and flat.

O: Even if I was a fan of Scotch, this would still be a crappy barleywine. Crap appearance, crap body, oxidized, just not good.

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Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.81/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

275ml bottle 11,5% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in an over sized wine glass.
2004 Vintage

A massive thanks to JAXSON for hooking me up with this long time want.

Appearance: JW Lees appears dark brown in the glass, with a back light revealing a thick slice of golden orange along the edges. An aggressive pour yields a thin ring of white bubbles and a light swirl coats the glass in heavy alcohol legs.

Smell: Ah man, this smells absolutely fantastic! There is a perfect balance between the notes from the base beer and those from the Lagavulin casks. Notes include: Brown sugar, dark caramel, dark fruits (raisins, plums, prunes and dates), peated whiskey (campfire, sea spray, damp seaweed and iodine) and a touch of nose tingling alcohol as the beer hits room temperature.

Taste: As suggested by the nose, this is an absolutely delicious beer!
The initial flavour is dominated by characteristics from the base beer, with notes of brown sugar, dark caramel, molasses, marmite, raisins, plums, rich fruit cake and dark treacle. The Lagavulin casks become apparent in the finish, with a wonderful peated whiskey character (campfire, sea spray, iodine and seaweed) and a light alcohol warmth.
As the beer approaches room temperature, there is a hint of oxidization noted and this is probably the only thing keeping the score down to a 4.5.

Mouthfeel: After 8 years in the bottle I was expecting the mouthfeel to have suffered somewhat, however I am happy to report that this is certainly not the case! Full bodied and quite sticky, with a very low level of wonderfully smooth carbonation.

Overall: As a lover of big, sweet English barleywines and of Islay Scotch, things don't get much better than this. I would happily drink one of these everyday for the rest of my life! I will most certainly be attempting to trade for a case in the near future!

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Photo of vkv822
2.98/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

on-tap @ Belmont Station.
taster glass : from notes.

Clear golden orange with a thin white head.

Wow, robust, smokey peat, scotch is essentially the only element here. After the palate adjusts to these intense flavors, a faint backing of caramel and biscuit malt is detectable.

Medium-full body, low carbonation.

I had a very hard time grading this one, the flavors where not necessarily unpleasant, but definitely unexpected and a bit over the top with the scotch. Definitely would not want more than the few ounces I had, and I could see how even that would be a bit much for some people.

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

Poured into a snifter; 2008 vintage

Enjoyed this side by side with the Sherry 2008

A murky, iced tea brown, with little to no cap or lacing. Just the thinnest of collars around the edge. Big peat, smokey aroma on top of old leather, butterscotch, cocoa powder, toffee, raisins, and oak. Just loads of complexity. The flavor profile follows the nose. Peat and smoke throughout, with tobacco, raisins, toffee, cocoa powder, leather, and raisins. A good shot of fusel alcohol leads to some good warming. The feel is a bit syrupy, full-bodied, with low carbonation. This beer is amazingly complex, albeit dominated by the peat, smokey aroma and flavors. If you're not a fan of peat whiskey, move along.

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Photo of Dope
2.45/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

2010 bottle

A: Murky reddish-brown pour with a tiny 1/2" tan head. Fades to nothing quickly. Minimal lacing.

S: Big peaty, smoky scotch on top of a mountain of molasses and toffee. Lots of band-aid and a little ashtray.

T: Tastes like pure band-aids and peaty scotch. Hard to get down. Strong molasses element in the finish tries to sweeten it up but whew. This is a tough one to swallow (literally).

M: Super heavy and syrupy as you would expect.

O: Wow, like drinking an ashtray filled with burnt bandaids. I poured it out after drinking two sips. This beer was so bad that it actually gave me a headache somehow. You MUST love scotch to even attempt this beer.

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Photo of cradke
4.87/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Murky light brown. Clear Sediment visible with a fine head.

Smell: The whisky is wonderfully incorporated. Great sweetness. Wish it might be a little stronger but it's wonderfully balanced

Taste: Wonderfully sweet. No where near cloying. Has really nice hazelnut whiskey goodness taste. Fantastic No alcohol presence at all.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thin but for a 7 year beer that's to be expected. Still, has great feel.

Overall: Probably one of my favorite BA beers. The whisky is wonderfully incorporated and sweetness is spot hot. I haven't had one with this much age and its transcendent. Love. Love. Love

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.62/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a cloudy brown-orange with a bit of bubbly white head. The head fades down quickly leaving behind only a touch of lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of oak and whisky with lots of caramelized malts, other dark caramel malts, dark fruits, brown sugar, some peat and smoke, a bit of citrus fruit, and some booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of peat and oak with some sweet caramelized malts, raisins, other dark fruits, and some light citrus hops. Through the middle, some smoke and more oak comes through with some more caramel malts and some molasses. The finish is a mix of rich caramelized and caramel malts with some dark fruit, peat, oak, smoke, brown sugar, and booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth with a warming, sweet, and lightly smoky finish.

D - Very drinkable. The whisky blends really nicely with the rich bold barleywine base. Nicely complex.

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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.

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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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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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