It's sweet, it definitely has alcohol and it mixes well with many spirits.
But what exactly is Southern Comfort?
If you answered whiskey, you’re not alone. But you’re also wrong.
Although it looks like whiskey and tastes a lot like whiskey-- and it’s usually stocked alongside the whiskeys at liquor stores-- Southern Comfort doesn't actually contain any whiskey in its current formulation.
But all that’s about to change in July, when the brand’s new owners at the Sazerac Company plan to debut an all-new version of “The Spirit of New Orleans,” reports The New York Times.
According to Kevin Richards, who has served as the senior marketing director of Southern Comfort since the brand was purchased away from Brown-Forman last year, SoCo was “in danger of losing a lot of relevance in the minds of consumers.”
Now, in an effort to bolster the brand’s reputation, the Sazerac Company will be fortifying the liqueur with honest-to-goodness whiskey, as opposed to the spirits it’s currently blended with. They’re also redesigning the brand’s bottles and labels, to further distance themselves from the former recipe.
Starting in July, Southern Comfort will roll out its new formula, starting with 70-, 80- and 100-proof versions. According to the Times, the company is also doing away with flavored SoCo variations like Lime Comfort and Caramel Comfort. Instead, they’re working on new products called Southern Comfort Rye and Southern Comfort Barrel Select — names that seem to hint at the brand’s newest ingredient.
“For us, whiskey is the root of the brand and we’re going to embrace that, and not play in that liqueur space,” said Richards.
That might seem like an odd thing to say — i.e., calling whiskey “the root of the brand” — but Richards isn’t entirely wrong. Southern Comfort did once contain whiskey when it was first bottled by bartender Martin Wilkes Heron in the late 19th Century. But over the years, the bourbon was replaced with neutral spirits, and the recipe remained that way.
Customers, however, should be mindful that SoCo’s new offerings are still technically blended liqueurs, albeit more whiskey-centric blended liqueurs. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction, according to Mark Brown, the chief executive of the Sazerac Company.
“If we’re right between Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam on the shelf, that will be fine with us,” Brown said.