You have "...80 or so single malts?" I am your newest fan. Please tell us more. I'm lucky to have a half-dozen single malts at any one time... One of my favorites is Oban, what are some of yours?
Here are some of my favorites:
Single Malts, Islay = Lagavulin 16 Yr, Ardbeg 10 Yr, Speyside = Glenfarclas 105, Springbank 15 Yr, Cragganmore 12 Yr (the founder used to manage Macallan), Macallan 18 Yr. trader joe's carries a private label bottling,
Orkneys = Highland Park 12 yr., all preferably in a thistle glass with a bit of lightly chilled water and no ice.
The 12 Yr old Glen Ord from the West Highlands is IMO a nice every day single malt that reminds me a bit of Lagavulin. Trader Joe's usually has promo gift boxes with glasses etc. before the holidays. Two years ago they were selling a box with one 750 ml, and a 250 ml bottle in it for about ten bucks. I couldn't resist, and bought thirty or so, and it also made a nice little present for friends.
My acquaintance with single malt scotch began in my late teens. One of my teachers was living with an English Colonel, one of those laid back ex colonial officers who lived in many house complete with servants, then again in a tents, in the mud, or with the water running through the bottom (here is to you, Larry). He told me some great stories, and in the process introduced me to Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Glenmorangie. A few years after I served in the German Luftwaffe, first in Budel, in the South of Holland near the Belgian border (and the Zolder race track), then in Oldenburg, and later in GÃ¼tersloh, near my home town of Bielefeld on the Teutoburg forests range (where the Teutonic tribes killed several Roman legions commanded by Varus). In GÃ¼tersloh I was part of a 100 men strong German AF (spit and polish) Kompanie within the huge British Barracks. I would sneak off into the Brit officers clubs, was introduced to Snooker, and a single malt cost only half a German Mark. This was when the US dollar was worth about 4 and a half German Marks.
I have been collecting single malts for about 18 Years, and have tasted every one of them.
Musician friends would bring obscure or in the U.S. hard to get bottles, like Ledaig from the Isle of Mull. Beside the 80 or so single malts, I have around 30 blended scotch.
A thistle glass is a good way to get the maximum aroma, and of course drink the stuff.
To your health, and what is left of mine. Cheers
P.S. Water and scotch is a funny little thing to try, where you first pour water into a glass, put a cloth napkin over the glass, and push if down with a reversed spoon until the bottom of the napkin touches the water in the glass, now slowly drip the spirit onto the reversed spoon until you like the measure. When you remove the spoon and napkin, the scotch will stay on top of the water unless stirred.
By having the scotch on top of the water, you will drink part scotch and part water, but the palate is being tricked in tasting undiluted scotch.