Though I enjoy the occasional Manhattan, I'm not usually a drinker of straight bourbon. Like scotch, the Kentucky libation always seemed more like a sippin' drink for old dudes. But lately, I've been acquainting myself with these potent brown liquors, and I have to say that neither scotch nor bourbon is anything to be afraid of. (That is, as long as you don't drink too much.)

Case in point: Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon, distilled in Frankfort, KY, has taught me that truly excellent bourbons go down easy — almost too easy — even without a mixer. I recently picked up a bottle of a batch made especially for a San Francisco spirits shop, but you can buy it online for about $50. From the waxed-sealed racehorse-adorned top to the hand-scrawled date, Blanton's is clearly a special-occasion bottle of hooch.

One sip and you'll understand what separates high-end bourbon from everyday booze like Jim Beam. The rich, caramel liquid has the decadent taste of toffee with a hint of woodsy, almost fiery flavor. It's best served over ice or just "neat" in a glass, but if you simply must dilute it, I recommend a bit of water. Have you gotten into high-end bourbons? If so, tell me your opinions below.