Nice description, I saw the Quinta Ruban at the liquor store last week and I considered it. I'm not familiar with any of the highlands and I'm relatively new to Scotch drinking. However, I started strong with the Islays and love the strong peaty, smoky, spicy character that most have. Ardbeg 10, Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 1990, Lagavulin 16 and Laphroaig 15 are my favorites of the Islays. I also really enjoy Talisker 10 and as the description goes, it drinks like hot lava, but I love it. Of the non-Islays I've tried, I did not enjoy Aberlour 12 because of the too-sweet sherry finish. Highland Park 12 was Ok, somewhat peaty and smoky but a little too weak for my liking.
In any case, I've wanted to give a highland like Glenmorangie a try, just not sure what to try and if any will work for my palette. So far I can say I don't like sweet and I like spice, heat, smoke and a lot of kick. I also do not get the flavors/noses of strong iodine and phenol that most describe when it comes to the Islays. Anyone who describes an Islay as such cannot possibly enjoy one unless one enjoys a medicinal taste.