To put ice in a whiske
y (Irish) or whisky (Scotland) is a no go! Seriously! It’s like putting a red wine in the fridge or warm wax on a bomber on a -20°C day. By cooling it down, you lose the subtle tastes. If the whisky is too strong (especially with cask strength ones), dilute it with a bit of water, preferentially softened water, since hard water will modify the taste
There are hundreds of different single malt Scotch with thousands of different tastes. To generalize “they all taste like xy” is rude. You’ve got so many colors, depending on the distillery, the years they were stored, in which cask, how they were bottled, ad infinitum. Yes, there are some Scotch that are rough and come close to mouth numbing turpentine
some Laphroaig for example smell and taste of medicine cabinet (iodine) and fishing boat (salty, seaweed) or a Bruichladdich Octomore (“the smokiest whisky in the world”) will taste as if you chew directly on a piece of charred peat. But such whiskies are for those who like the extremes and enjoy the richness and above all are not thought to begin the evening with. If you want to try such rich ones, you should have a quiver of different whiskies with different strength of characteristics and begin with a smoother one, later in the evening one a bit richer, and end with those ones you might call turpentine-like if you’d start with them right away. To start right away with an Octomore is really like having a bat swing right in your face
Sounds as if you are ready to go for a real
The general difference between Scotch and Irish is the distilling process (twice vs. three times) and the processing of the barley, making the Irish in general smoother, and Scotch in general more smoky and peaty. There are only 5 distilleries in Ireland, rather producing airport bar mainstream - no offence, if you like it, fine. Each taste is different. But if you like smoky ones, you likely want to use them Irish ones for a whiskey-coke after trying rich ones from Scottish Islands. In Scotland there are over 80 distilleries: the selection (and competition) there is huge.
I asked the whisky collector for recommendations of nice smoky single malts that would most probably be available at yours (he owns 500+ bottles, most of them cask strength numbered limited ones and has visited most distilleries). Talisker 57° North
(from the Isle of Skye) or a Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength
(Isle of Islay) (NOT quarter cask or the standard 10y! These are the medicine cabinet ones). If you get hooked and want to spend a little more, Ardbeg (Isle of Islay) Supernova or Ardbog or Renessaince would be high class ones you might get your hands on.