Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, the proper name of this magical elixir, is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey manufactured by Labrot & Graham Distillers Co., of Versailles, KY.

Despite my lifelong love of bourbon - and the fact that Labrot & Graham has been around since 1812 - I had never heard of it until I saw it in my favorite bar four years ago. It is, on the whole, less cloying than Jack Daniel's (which, as any bourbon snob will tell you, is technically Tennessee Whiskey,) and far, far smoother than Jim Beam, my run-of-the-mill evening tipple. Even run up alongside Maker's Mark, Knob Creek or Basil Hayden's, it has a long, deep finish. Yes, I am fully aware I'm veering dangerously close to oenophile territory, but the stuff's so damned tasty that the tight-asses at the wine magazines are starting to review it. Bourbon! Manly drink! (Food & Wine, I am mildly ashamed to admit I know, calls Woodford "gorgeous and full-bodied.")

At 45.2% (90 proof), it has more kick than our old 80-proof friends Jim and Jack. More flavor, too. It's closest in taste to Maker's Mark - also a 90-proof bourbon - but with less of a caramel taste.

It also comes in a cool square bottle that looks like an oversized hip flask.