Don't assume a big beer needs time. Obviously I haven't tasted it but my big barleywines are great when I finish fermentation. Big beers do not NEED time to be award winning great. Change over time, yes, improve over time, frequently, but NEED to age to offer great drink-ability, no.
The common reason to REQUIRE aging of big beers are fusel alcohols. These tend to age out with time, BUT, if you have these (you reference "alcohol was noticeable in the gravity sample", I can't tell by this the flavor of the alcohol) I would suspect that you fermented too warm