Scotchery Update (from last weekend):
Let me confirm again that prices are b%$+@*@@...and only somewhat correlated to quality and taste. A few nights ago, I did splashes of comparison between three scotches that have a similar flavor profile (at least to me):
Johnnie Walker Black (about $32 at Safeway)
Johnnie Walker Platinum (about $100 at Safeway)
Aberfeldy 12 (about $55)
I started with the JW Black. I know it. It's cheap. It's good. It has a slight amount of peat. I can sip it happily. I know that it's relatively inexpensive.
Then I went to Black's big brother: JW Platinum. It's better. It is noticeably better. However, is it worth 3x the price? Oh hells no. It's still slightly peaty and is a bit more smooth.
Then the Aberfeldy. Oh man, this is the first scotch I ever loved (after Lagavulin 16, of course). This used to be my bomb (I think I understand things differently now). Now? I think it's better than the JW Black, and equal to the JW Platinum. Is it twice as good as the JW Black? No. But do I still love having it? Yes.
By pure enjoyment (not considering cost): Aberfeldy > Platinum > Black
By pure cost: Black > Aberfeldy > Platinum
I'll probably always have a bottle of JW Black on hand. And if you're in a bar, drinking with other Pathfinders, it's not a bad thing to order neat. It's cheap, it's good sipping, it's omnipresent. I don't know that I'd ever order Platinum at a bar: totally not worth the price.
So yeah, that's a step on my scotch journey.