Re: Beginner looking for starters guide
I used to have a lot of thoughts about this, then I tried a lot more whiskies, and I really do not know anymore. Perhaps the most important thing, is how much are you willing to spend on a bottle that you may or may not like?
There are not a huge number of Lowland Distilleries still in operation, so I will not comment on them. And honestly the Regions are more or less to give you a hint at what the style may be, and not actually well defined styles in among themselves. The only exception is Islay and other Island whiskies tend to have some pretty unique characteristics, especially when you are going with the peated ones.
Perhaps I am slightly biased right now, but if you are willing to spend a bit more than just a bottle of Glenlivet 12, I suggest you look into Old Pulteney 12, which is a highland whisky. But in terms of whether or not you would like a Scotch, both OP 12 and Glenlivet 12 are safe bets for starters, as is Glenfiddich 12.
If you want to try an Island whisky, there HP mentioned above which could be quite a bit of a softer introduction to what they can be, but if you are of the method "Go Big or Go Home" you may want to look into something from Islay itself. The question then is how BIG do you want to go? For a softer introduction try looking at an affordable Bowmore. If you want to go big (and more expensive), consider Ardbeg, Lagavulin, or Laphroig, with Ardbeg 10 being highly recommended, but then the other two distilleries also have great offerings. If you want something that's also quite good and depending on the prices in your area is on the scale consider Caol Ila 12 year old.
Others might stone me for suggesting this, but if you are really wary about spending too much, the following might not be the best examples of great quality whiskies, but if the McClelland's Whiskies are offered in the stores by you, depending on which ones they carry, picking up the Islay (Bowmore I believe), and one or two of the others ( I have also heard that the Lowland is Auchintoshan, but I do not recall anyone being sure on what the Highland or Speyside distilleries are) , can usually be done for a less or the same amount as say Ardbeg 10.