Step 2: Dip your toe into the single-malt pool
Now this story turns into a Choose Your Own Adventure. But with fewer spike pits and more Scotch:
If you like the rich, smoky stuff...
That means you'll likely enjoy something more "rich and intense," says Morgan. "I'd start with something like Cragganmore or Mortlach, which are Speyside single malts, but they have quite a lot of character," he says.
That's just the tip of the smoky single-malt whisky iceberg. "For smokier single malts, I think of Caol Ila from the Isle of Islay or Talisker from the Isle of Skye, which are quite different." As it happens, Caol Ila whisky is used as part of the blend for Johnnie Walker Black, so this makes perfect sense. Pro tip: if the bottle you pick up describes it as an Islay single-malt Scotch whisky, Morgan says there's a good chance it'll be smoky. But be sure to eye the bottle, regardless: sometimes you'll find tasting notes on it.
Or you can go with a more unconventional Scotch. If you "want something a little special and unusual, there's a single malt called Clynelish which springs to mind," he says. "Or Springbank from Campbelltown -- it's an unusual, rich, bolder [whisky] with a maritime character." That means it tastes like the sea, but not the parts where people make #1.
If you like the lighter, fruitier stuff...
You're still going to go the single-malt route, but you'll be going deeper into the portfolio of different distilleries. "[Find] Cardhu, Glenlivet, or Glenfiddich -- those which have fruity characters, and those single malts all have great reputations," Morgan says. "And rightly so."
If you're wondering what kind of money you're going to have to lay out for a bottle of any of these whiskies, it depends on the age. But you can find many 12-years for under $50 at your local liquor store. "In terms of relative prices of single malts, all three of those are going to be what I'd call affordable," he says.