Highland Park 18 Alternative
I'm brand new to the whiskey world. Well, sort of. I've been drinking lots of whiskeys for several years - the Red and Black Johnny Walkers, J&B, Dewar's, and so on - but I've always mixed them with Coke. I could never stand to drink it straight, until about a week ago, when everything changed.
A friend of mine let me try a few pulls from his glass of his Glenlivet 12, and to my surprise, I could actually taste flavors other than "burning," and I really liked it. So here I find myself, suddenly exposed to a wide open world of wonderful whiskeys, and I'm having a ball exploring these new territories (new to me, anyway).
To the point: I recently went to a whiskey bar and tried a sampler flight, one of which was the Highland Park 18. I suppose I'm now ruined for life, because this amazingly complex and flavorful whiskey is far-and-away better than anything else I've tried (the other features on the flight were the Glenlivet 18 and the Glenfiddich 18), and it retails for around $100 USD.
My question is this: is there anything else on the market that even comes close, but at about 1/3 the price? I've seen that there is a Highland Park 12 that retails for closer to $40 USD, but are the flavors comparable? I think what I liked most about the HP-18 was the smokey, almost leathery taste - salty, even. What other whiskeys are in this same flavor category, if any?
I did enjoy the Glenlivet 18 and the Glenfiddich 18, but I also thought they were a lot more on the sweeter side than the HP-18 (the Glenlivet much more so than the Glenfiddich).
So if someone could point me in the direction of other whiskeys that are less on the sweet side and more on the side of the HP-18's smokey-leather-salty combination, and don't cost $100 a bottle, I would be grateful.