Scotch in Eastern Washington is frustratingly overpriced - Balvenie Portwood 21 goes for well over $200. Madness. So I'm limited in my ability to purchase.
However, I've managed current ownership of the usual beginner/intermediate bottles: Laugavulin 16, Talisker 18 (thanks to a friend with a job in the industry), HP 12, Coal Ila 12. I'm working on getting a bottle of the Talisker 10 and HP 18 to do an Island taste test between the younger and older versions of these two.
Laugavulin is usually the one I torcher non-scotch drinkers with. I love it and usually call it my favorite. Still, I find the Islays to require a certain mood.
The Talisker 18 and HP 12 are my current favs and, for the price, the Caol Ila 12 is the Islay of choice in my opinion - a bit 'unsuphistimacated' maybe, but it seems to have the peat and smoke your looking for with an Islay without too much medicine or too much money.
If anyone has the time, I'm looking for suggestions on a 'sophisticated' speyside. I've been cultivating snobbery and I've been avoiding the region all together since they first led me to scotch, but I'm trying to unsaddle my high-horse a bit and get reaquainted. Also, the Oban 14 is the only Highland I've tried and I love it. Any other suggestions?