Over the years, however, I've drank more than my share of single malt scotch and have found a few favorites and a few that I despise. Glen Garioch, for example, is so awful that I wouldn't even use it to clean out a wound.
While blended scotches generally are reasonably priced, I've found that, by and large, they are a little too harsh for my taste. Moreover, by the time you get up into the blends that don't taste like paint thinner, you're probably paying more than you would for a decent single malt. A fine case in point is Johnny Walker Blue, which is outrageous at $175 for a fifth.
Laphroaig is a fairly reasonable single malt. At $30 for a fifth, it is on the low end of the scale, yet still offers a delicious Islay flavor. On a particularly cool note, Laphroaig also has the "Friends of Laphroaig" society; to become a member, one need only send in a piece of the metal foil that surrounds the top of a bottle. In return, one gets a "lease" of one square foot of the island of Islay, rent for which is a dram of scotch, payable if you come to the distillery. Even if you don't show up, they send you a certificate and Christmas cards.
On a cheaper scale, Bowmore is an Islay single malt that costs a mere $17 a bottle. Similarly, Auchentoshan is a lowland single malt that also costs $17. Both are decent, tasty tipples that are almost ridiculously underpriced. Auchentoshan has a mellower, softer flavor, while Bowmore is a little peatier and more intense.
Finally, for those whose tastes tend more toward the Irish end of things, Powers Irish whiskey is nicely priced in the $20 range. It is a smooth, flavorful spirit that makes an outstanding Irish coffee. Of course, Jameson's or Bushmill's addicts will find this a tough sell, but it is definitely worth a try!