J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin)

 
overall
97
91
style
Formerly brewed at J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter

bottled
available

on tap
unknown

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 509   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.74/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Only available filtered and pasteurised in bottles.
Matured in wooden casks of Lagavulin Malt Whiskey, one of the most distinctive malt whisky from the island of Islay, characterized by the strong peaty notes which should blend with the Harvest Ale to give an explosion of flavors.
This fully fermented ale has been brewed by JW Lees as a celebration of the brewers’ art. Harvest Ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment to come.

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4.5
PilsnerPeter (3049) - Flushing, New York, USA - FEB 6, 2007
2006 Version - Wooden-pin cask at Spuyten Duyvil: Wow, this stuff is awesome. Pours a very deep and hazy orange with no head. The aroma is filled with piney, scotch-like qualities, peat & fresh earth, dirty woodchip and an underlying open fire smokeyness. At the front of the tongue there’s sweet glazed piney notes reminiscent of baked Irish soda bread with raisins. Unbelievably complex layers of flavors that develop more with each sip. There’s an amazing smokeyness that reminds me of burning wood or a fresh open fire. There’s absolutely no indication of alcohol, extremely smooth texture down the throat. Leaves a light maple residue on the lips. This stuff is just absolutely delicious and unparallel in complexity.

4.5
ChainGangGuy (4919) - Woodstock, Georgia, USA - JUN 7, 2007
UPDATED: JUN 16, 2009 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 Whiskey 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!!!

4.5
tjthresh (1875) - Greenfield, Indiana, USA - JUL 16, 2007
Brewed in 2005
Pours light amber orange, lots of carbonation, but not head. I yeast floaties. Ooops. Wonderful carmelized fruit aromas. Oak and vanilla. Powerful alcohol sort of singes the nose hair. Wow what a flavor. The toffee fruit character is accompanied byt a new friend. A wonderful peat character that takes and all ready super beer, out of the world. Sweet, but not cloy. Very seductive.

4.5
coldmeat23 (232) - Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA - NOV 3, 2009
VINTAGE: 2006 Man oh man...happy birthday to me! Golden coppery color with almost no head at all (as was expected). Not so unlike apricot nectar. The aroma is quite smokey/peaty, like scotch (duh!) but in a sweet vaporous cloud. The taste is amazing! Very sweet malt taste combined with just the right amount of smoke and peatiness to make it completely enjoyable. There is also plenty of honey-dipped fruit flavor to be found here. Peaches, apricots, pineapple, perhaps a date or even a fig. Tastes almost like smoked butterscotch. (Where is the 11.5% a.b.v.? Certainly not in the taste! Wow! Super smooth!) This is like liquid velvet in your mouth. It feels so good that I think I’d drink it even if it didn’t taste this wonderful. I could easily enjoy several of these in a row, but when something tastes this good you want to savor it and make it last. I can’t wait ’til I get the chance to buy more of these. (Fortunately, that will be in about 4 weeks!) This is so amazing, I can’t recommend it highly enough! Pick one up as soon as you are able.

4.5
mastabass666 (277) - California, USA - DEC 27, 2009
By far the most complex of the different barrel aged versions of this beer I’ve had. Smoke really cuts and complicates the already sweet and complex flavor of the standard. Tons of charred fruit , tar, huge Islay presence. Crazy. v.2008

4.5
17thfloor (2443) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - MAY 3, 2010
2004 Vintage. Wow, I’ve heard great things about this one, and this is my most antcipated Harvest. It certainly lives up to expectation and I agree, that this is probably the best of the bunch. Served at room temp. Pours a glowing but murky dark reddish brown with basically no head with some floaties. Aroma of sweet fruits, notes of port and sherry mixed with the medium peaty whisky note, lovely intoxicating sweetness that seems rounder, brighter, and fruitier than the others, some grassy malt oxidation, love that it isn’t overpowering scotch or peaty, it has a great balance, fantastic wood aroma holding it all together. Flavor follows, not as overpoweringly sweet as some of the others either, mixture of well aged port and sherry flavors swirling with the medium/light peaty scotch notes all tied together with an elegant wood flavor, not typical of other wood aged beers, really elegant, some grassiness, a bit toasty under the rich fruit, super smooth, underlaying nuttiness, some lingering tobacco, rich, complex, smooth, wonderful. The easiest to drink of the ones that I’ve tried thus far, still viscous but drinks rather well, faint sparse carbonation, isn’t as syrupy as I remember other Harvest and similar barley wines. Absolutely love it! Delightful rich warming fruitiness! Adult candy.

4.5
chaz01 (190) - Miamisburg, Ohio, USA - MAY 16, 2010
Generously shared out by the owner of Belmont Party Supplies in Dayton at a semi-private charity beer tasting event. According to him, this special cask was from a recent vintage from his private collection, originally poured from a small cask. Amber brown in color, very little head or carbonation detected -- instead this is rich, thick and syrupy looking. I hardly ever give a perfect rating in a category so that I can always leave room to rate something higher. But the aroma on this beer takes the cake! Just a wonderful whiskey, raisins, sherry, smoky and port aromas from this beer make me just want to sit and smell this beer. Sweet, smokey, malty with notes of sherry, port, vanilla and oak. Very complex flavor with so much going on. Low carbonation, very full bodied, thick and syrupy. I have a couple of bottles at home, but not sure if I’ll ever get to drink from the cask again. This was a real treat and the highlight of the evening. A very full bodied sipping beer to be broken out on very special occasions.

4.5
nj_BierMaven (124) - Flemington, New Jersey, USA - SEP 12, 2012
On tap at Somerset Hills Tap Room in NJ. Thank you to Kevin the manager and his management for supporting him in putting amazing off-the-mainstream brews like this on the rotating draft list. Pours a beautiful cloudy amber, with a nose that clearly announces its Scotch barrel ancestry. Mild carbonation does not interfere with the peaty, smoky character that defines this barley wine. Was too cold upon delivery from the tap, but the maltiness revealed itself upon warming, balancing out the smokiness. Not for the faint of heart, but for barley wine and Scotch lovers a reward worth pursuing. I don’t taste the alcohol notes others described, just a malty smoky complexity that defies description.

4.5
sjohnny (662) - - JUL 15, 2017
Just a huge hit of peaty scotch. A little sweetness on the back end. Cloudy light brown orange Amber with a thin quickly fading off white head. Lots of Scotch. Lots of peat. Glassy smooth. Prune. Date. Fig. Sweet finish. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

4.4
Pinnhead (93) - New Jersey, USA - NOV 26, 2005
musky and port like though not sweet. an excellent sipping brew in place of port, sherry or other. a bit overpowering with a meal but as a lead in or after it’s on the mark.


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