Vic Firth is the name that any serious drummer should look to when buying drum sticks. They provide a full catalogue of sticks, from the almighty Corpsmasters to the 5a work horse. Unfortunately, they are not immediately available to drummers in the United Kingdom, but thankfully, Amazon stocks the one stick that should be on every shelf, the Vic Firth American Hickory 5a.
Aside from a distinct excellence in quality, choice of wood, variety of style and general build quality, Vic Firth sticks just feel nicer. Some stick manufacturers opt for a glossy finish, whereby the stick appears to be varnished. While obviously a subjective matter, I feel that this provides an impersonality between the player and the stick. Vic Firths have an almost matt, unvarnished finish, which sits comfortably and snugly in the hand, and feels as smooth as silk.
It should be noted that Vic Firths, if played hard, will break just like any other stick. They aren't made from carbon fibre or cast iron, and they will break. They will chip, scratch, and splinter with use. However, this is an industry normality, and you may find that chosing a superior stick will delay the inevitable a fair bit.
This is the industry standard for drummers without specific tastes (such as the ultra thin 7a sticks, or the fat 2b sticks etc.), and the price makes these pro-quality sticks a steal.