Hi all, first post.
A quick bit about me (figured it was almost mandatory, as so many responses to questions begin with "If you'd tell us what you've enjoyed so far...").
Have enjoyed Single malts and blends sparingly for a couple of decades but seldom more than in small spurts here and there, as time and $$ rather prohibited it. I'm not much of a daily drinker, usually enjoying a dram or two a week, and will nurse a small glass of single malt for upwards of two hours. My usual choice (going back 2 decades, lazyness here) was to just grab a bottle of Glenlivet or Glenfiddich because it was readily available and reasonably priced. There would be the odd splurge in there, a bottle of Laphroaig or some Speyside I'd buy on a whim. I'd tried to convince myself that I liked the Speysides but truth is I usually tired of them before I'd finish out the bottle, which may have had a lot to do with my not returning to single malt again for some months. The softer mellower notes that I liked the first few drams simply began to bore me before too long.
The Laphroaig, however, was the complete opposite. It is huge, immense, and by the time I'd come near the end of the bottle I'd need a break because it was such a demanding drink!
Coming forward to present, after a couple of years of not drinking at all my wife gave me a bottle of Speyburn (Gee, thanks- forced smile). It wasn't terribly good of course but there again was that recognition of finding the thing interesting for only a few drams. So, I went out and bought a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year and a bottle of Ardbeg 10 year (!!!). I've been thrilled with these! Yes, they are big and bold and demanding, which brings me (finally) to my question. What next?
I'm hoping to find something that splits the difference. I love the character of the big Islays but would like something that is toned down a wee bit without being too soft, yet has some of the softer characteristics that a Speyside offers. And yes, I know that my opinion of Speysides may simply be my limited experience with them. I'm focusing on 10 and 12 year old whiskeys in the $35-$50 range. I'm considering the following, and solicit your opinions of these and/or your reccomendations.
Aberlour 12 year
Bruichladdich - The Laddie 10 (if I can find it)
Glenflarclas 10 year
Glenmorangie The Original
Highland Park 12 year
Springbank 10 year
Thanks for any help.