Since there are more than a dozen different distilleries and more than two dozen different brands or blends of bourbon, you might enjoy doing a tasting to determine your preference.

Elmer Lee, the master distiller at Blanton's, has provided the following guidelines for doing a bourbon tasting:

You'll need a clean snifter or goblet large enough to accommodate your nose and you'll need a container to spit in. (Two or three swallows can deaden your taste buds, to say nothing of what more can do to your mind and motor skills.) You'll also need a good supply of distilled or spring water and a variety of bourbons.

For each brand, pour small but equal amounts of bourbon and water into your glass. Take a small amount in your mouth and swirl it around for a few seconds. Then spit it out and rinse you mouth out with water.

Hold the goblet up to your nose and inhale gently. You should get a pleasant, full, rounded bouquet of caramel and alcohol that is not raw or medicinal.

Take a very small amount of whiskey and let it lie on the front of the tongue and breathe very lightly and slowly in and out of your nose, with your mouth closed. With a very good bourbon, you will experience a slightly sweet, caramel alcohol taste that is pleasant, without any bite or bitter taste.

Spit the whiskey out, forcing it through your lips. This allows the taste sensors in your lips to double check the taste buds in your mouth and tongue. Once you've spit out the whiskey, the flavor should not rebound. You should not experience any lingering aftertaste or burning sensation. defbox

After each sampling, you should wash your mouth out with water.