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Ah, an excellent topic. I’ve been on my second Scotland holiday this year and visited two distilleries: Bunnahabhain (on Islay) and Isle of Arran. Since then the Bunnahabhain 12yrs has really conquered by heart (and palate). Only slightly peated, it is wonderfully smooth yet complex. And it is an affordable price range for me. 😀 A new bottle just arrived yesterday and is sitting pristinely on the shelf. There’s also an unopened Glenmorangie 12yrs Lasanta next to it, but that’s a Christmas gift for my father. *sighs*

As for tasting patterns, I’m sure this is basic advice, but I’d always start with the smoother ones (usually the Speysides) and end with heavily peated drams from the west coast. I’d also not try more than two or three (at most) different ones in one evening.