There might be some good things to do with Southern Comfort, but the brand name still conjures up embarrassing memories from our freshman year of college, and it's not exactly the kind of alcohol we'd like to showcase on a bar cart.
The brand does, however, have a colorful and interesting history. In fact, it originated all the way back in the 19th century, and nowadays, almost every bar in the country keeps it in stock. It's practically an American artifact. So maybe it's not so surprising that it's currently in the midst of a makeover intended to recapture some of that yesteryear glory.
Last year, the Sazerac Company bought Southern Comfort (it was formerly owned by Brown-Forman). And now, they're hoping to redesign the brand's label and bottle and get rid of some of its less sophisticated flavor options, including Caramel Comfort and Lime Comfort. Perhaps most exciting, though, is that they're even planning to add whiskey back on to the ingredient list.
Whiskey hasn't actually been one of the ingredients in Southern Comfort for quite some time, even though it's known as a whiskey brand by many. By 1979, the original liquor was replaced by a generic "grain neutral spirit." If it's not yet obvious why Southern Comfort desperately needed a rebrand, those three words probably make it pretty clear.
Kevin Richards, the new senior marketing director for Southern Comfort, told The New York Times that he had had trouble convincing people that there was even a need to add whiskey to the recipe; after all, didn't it already have whiskey in it? “I remember having arguments with bartenders who thought black was blue and swore it had whiskey in it. We thought, as part of the overall positioning, we would put whiskey in it. And we have."
The company will soon introduce an 80-proof Southern Comfort to accompany the currently-offered 70-proof and 100-proof options, and there are even plans for other whiskey-centric versions to be offered, including Southern Comfort Rye and Southern Comfort Barrel Select.
Brown went on to emphasize the importance of the added whiskey. "For us, whiskey is the root of the brand and we’re going to embrace that, and not play in that liqueur space."