padraig sea & macca:
thanks for the responses. to both of you, i would recommend a go at the springbank 10, as it seems to have a fair balance with just a bit more "oomph" (for me, at least), creating a pretty rich experience. (i've also found myself increasingly keen on non-chill filtered and non-colored expressions.) i have about a third of a bottle of caol ila 12 left, and then it's on to my last birthday bottle: the lagavulin 16. looking forward to it.
i will say that the caol ila has continued to grow on me: it's just that, for me, if i'm going for islay, then i prefer to go all the way and enjoy the "islay-est" islays i can lay my greedy hands on.
by the way, macca, where are u in oz? last time i was in melbourne (one of my favorite cities), i checked out a joint in the cbd called whiskey and alement: tremendous!!!