I agree with you, Count, there are some amazing whiskies to be found around the 100 Euro price point
And I also feel there’s a natural quality improvement around 18 years of maturation, so many great 18yo choices. One could be very content to enjoy these whiskies and never go further.
For me, my whiskey journey looks a lot like my watch journey. As I learn more and discover more, so I appreciate, what at first appeared small differences, all the more. There was a time I thought Maurice LaCroix watches were the bomb. And then I discovered IWC. Later, I found Patek and after that, the Independents. In each of these stages, my personal definition of “what constitutes good finishing?” changed. While I still appreciate IWC today, I know not to compare their finishing with Kari Voutilainen.
Same with whiskey. The maturation process can add extra layers, depth and complexity to a whiskey. Sometimes, not always! I’ve found my ability and desire to discern these differences and appreciate them has improved over time. Funny aside, my wife got a Glenfiddich sampler as a gift, a small bottle of the 12yo, 15yo, and 18yo. I also had the 25yo at home. She decided to test me and see if I could tell the difference by giving me a small blind test pour of these four. I correctly identified all four.... from the nose 😀 I’m not sure I could have even done that through a taste-test twenty years ago when I started.
So whiskey for me is very much like watches - enjoy your personal journey of discovery wherever that takes you!