Let me ask this...
Do you just "know" the cells were fresh, or did you test them using a Multimeter to see if they were all pretty similar?
Voltage doesn't tell the whole story either! Flash Amps is what I go by.
I don't have a lot of three cell lights. Only a "modded" Brinkmann Maxfire Rechargable with 3x123 and a Space Needle II. But I have LOTS of 2 cell lights, and have matched and numbered sets for this purpose.
I STILL believe that with REASONABLE precaution, we are safe enough using primary Liths.