Budget: Oban. Flavor is maybe more smoky than some would like, but has some of the sweet, light flavors on the palate as well. Probably not a good choice to get a 'newb' into scotch.
A little less budget: Lagavulin. Delicious! Peat-y and robust. my preferred choice.
Anything over the $$ of Lagavulin, and I will let someone else buy.
As a side note, I'm a seasonal scotch drinker, and that season is coming up.
My drinking seasons are: winter--scotch and reds, summer--light wines (rieslings, pinot grigio, etc.) Spring/ fall--- either pale ale or red wines.