There’s a certain breed of whiskey loving Southerners who swear by Southern Comfort — whether it’s served on the rocks or as a SoCo and Lime. On it’s website, the fruit flavored liqueur claims it’s “the spirit of New Orleans,” made in 1874 by a bartender “who believed whiskey should be enjoyed, not endured.”
But guess what. Southern Comfort doesn’t have whiskey in it, and it hasn’t for decades. Now, under the ownership of the the Sazerac Company (which owns brands like Buffalo Trace, Bowman’s, and Firefly) that’s going to change, according to the New York Times.
You can likely understand why the Sazerac Company would want to put the whiskey back in SoCo. The brand’s reputation ranges from the liqueur of bad college decision making to the drink that earned Janis Joplin a fur coat. When the Brown-Forman company bought the brand in 1979, SoCo used a neutral grain spirit (think vodka or Everclear) as the alcohol portion of the drink.
Sazerac Company bought SoCo in 2016 and immediately recognized the need for a change.
“I remember having arguments with bartenders who thought black was blue and swore it had whiskey in it,” Mark Brown, the CEO of Sazerac Company, told the Times. “We thought, as part of the overall positions, we would put whiskey in it. And we have.”
Chalk this up to the changes you never thought needed to happen. No one knows exactly which whiskey will go into the new and improved SoCo, but Brown did mention it was going to be from a Sazerac brand. Hopefully it’s enough to move Southern Comfort from “don’t touch that” in the minds of whiskey purists to a drink that makes people go “hmmmm.”
“If we’re right between Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam on the shelf,” Brown told the Times, “that will be fine with us.”
For those of you familiar with the current taste of SoCo, it’s going to get better. For those of you who’ve avoided the drink, maybe it’s time to give it a try.