Southern Comfort is going back to its roots.
The American liqueur, which Sazerac Company bought from the liquor conglomerate Brown-Forman last year, is ditching its trendy lime and caramel flavors and, most importantly, taking back a significant ingredient - whiskey. Sazerac plans to introduce the whiskey versions of Southern Comfort in July, according to the New York Times.
If you only take back Southern Comfort shots or order an Alabama Slammer on occasion, this breaking news might be puzzling. For the true liquor savant, Southern Comfort’s fruity, spicy kick with a touch of whiskey flavoring has not been interchangeable with a whiskey giant like Jack Daniel’s.
Kevin Richards, the new senior marketing director, told NYT he seeks to change that.
“For us, whiskey is the root of the brand and we’re going to embrace that, and not play in that liqueur space,” Richards told the publication.
In its early stages dating back to the 19th century, Southern Comfort did include whiskey, though the liquor’s recipe has always been top secret. It was created by Martin W. Heron, while working at a New Orleans saloon. By the time Brown-Forman bought the brand in 1979, the kick inside the bottle was provided not by whiskey, but by a grain neutral spirit — essentially a generic alcohol, not dissimilar to vodka.
Over the years,Southern Comfort has been marketed as “None Genuine but Mine” and “the Grand Old Drink of the South.”
With its perception as a drink of the past, Richards said Southern Comfort “was in danger of losing a lot of relevance in the mind of consumers” prior to the ownership change last year.
The addition of the 80-proof “whiskey-forward” rendition of Southern Comfort,a long with future barrel select and rye versions of the spirit, should give Southern Comfort the image change its long needed, said Mark Brown, the chief executive of Sazerac.
“If we’re right between Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam on the shelf,” Mr. Brown said, “that will be fine with us.”