My tastes have been changing more and more recently and I find myself moving away from the sweeter cocktails in favor of something stronger. I've been reading through some of the whiskey discussions here to get some ideas on where to start exploring. I've had most of the usual suspects like Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker, Seagram's 7 (mostly 7&7s), VO, Maker's Mark (in Manhattans), etc.
I was in a bar recently where they were running a promotion for Famous Grouse. Basically these cute girls poured small shots of Famous Grouse, Johnny Walker (black maybe?), and Glenlivet 18. It was a blind tasting and we were asked to rank the drinks. I picked the Glenlivet, FG, and JW respectively. Apparently I picked correct since they said the Glenlivet was somewhere close to $80 a bottle. In any case, I really enjoyed the first two and want to try more. I recently tried some Buffalo Trace after reading some good reviews - I know it's not a scotch, but I'm just trying to find out what I like. I wasn't thrilled with it. I don't know what it was, but it seemed a little flat. Nice nose to it at first, but I just couldn't pick out much flavor when drinking it.
In addition to the whiskey mentioned above, I've been digging the brandy and cognac my fiance's family pours after dinners. These seem a bit sweeter and have more character to me. This brings me to my questions. Based on what I've mentioned, what else might be nice to try for a beginner? And, when I'm trying a whiskey, should I be pouring some water in, drinking it on the rocks, or just straight? I had a splash of water with the Buffalo Trace and think maybe it covered up some of the flavor. Seems like we have some serious whiskey and bourbon drinkers on here, so I'd love to hear some opinions and recommendations.