Cask Strength Suggestions
Hey, folks! I've been seeking your inout on aother thread related to an upcoming birthday purchase, and I'd like to supplement it/narrow it down here. Specifically, I am figuring to include one cask strength offering among the bottles I buy. If I can mange 5 expressions, I'm likely to make 4 of them Lagavulin 16; Caol Ila 12; Highland Park 12; and Springbank 10. I'd like to fill that final slot with a CS expression. I'm an "if it ain't Islay, it ain't scotch" type so far, although a dram of Highland Park 18 almost made a believer out of me where other regions are concerned. I tend to enjoy "big" expressions, but this might be a good time to try to branch out just a wee bit. However, I still want something "big" that leaves a strong impression (whether it's big smoke; big peat; or something else). Cask strength promises a bit of the "big" I'm looking for.
Right now, I'm inclined to go for the Glenfarclas 105: partly based on a feeling about the distillery (the last of the family-owned; very informative website); partly based on what I've gleaned about the quality of the expression; and partly based on current availability and price (using Rakuten, an Internet ****s source in Japan). (And yes, I have checked into Aberlour A'bunadh. While I like the romance and personal feeling of small batches, notwithstanding inconsistencies between batches, it doesn't seem as attractive to me for reasons including availability.) However, I've also looked into Bowmore offerings (Bowmore Cask Strength, which seems less attractive but available, and Tempest, which is more intriguing but harder to come by) and Finlaggan (both Peaty & Old Reserve versions offer an inexpensive CS option that seems to be fairly highly regarded). I would really like to go for a bottle of Laphroaig CS, which is occasionally available for around 45 bucks online in Japan, but the cheapest now available is around 90 bucks, nearly 3 times what it would cost to fetch a bottle of my beloved Quarter Cask!
So... what do you think? I'm a big fan of non-chill filtered and non-colored, although those are not deal breakers. I like the idea of signatory or independent bottlings such as Douglas Laing, but price and availability are key concerns here...