Originally Posted by chasking
I would use Ardbeg 10yo as a starter Islay. Laphroaig (and Bowmore) have very distinct flavors that tend to induce a love-it-or-hate-it reaction---apparently Laphroaig produced a "love it" reaction in you, but that is not a universal response. The distinct Laphroaig taste is not entirely due to the peat character. I think the Ardbeg is a more neutral (although still delicious) whiskey. If someone likes the smoky aspect of the whiskey, then I would stretch out and try the other peaty Islays.

I guess I can just easily see somebody trying Laphroaig and hating it, and writing off the other Islays even though s/he would have loved Ardbeg or Lagavulin, since they are so different.

I've always used Laphroaig as a starter Islay because the flavors are so much sweeter, well in the case of a 10 x 10 comparison. I also like Ardbeg and Lagavulin, but the Lagavulin's \$100 a bottle around here, If you can find it. But I also find a lot of seaspray, saline and iodine flavors (love it or hate it) in the Ardbeg as well.