Southern Comfort?

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Southern Comfort?

Unread postby JimC » Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:39 pm

Not that I drink Southern Comfort ,or have even tasted it , but what exactly,is it?
I've got a friend that swears by the stuff and would not even try straight bourbon neat or w/water.
:roll: thanks
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Re: Southern Comfort?

Unread postby TNbourbon » Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:51 pm

JimC wrote:Not that I drink Southern Comfort ,or have even tasted it , but what exactly,is it?


It's a liqueur, and there isn't a drop of whiskey in it. In fact, the current 70-proof white-label version wouldn't be able to call itself whiskey (because it's under 80-proof) even if it were whiskey.
Chuck knows the details better than me, but it's my understanding it's essentially Grain Neutral Spirits (GNP) with flavorings (apricots, et al) added.
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Southern Comfort?

Unread postby JimC » Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:57 pm

Thanks.
Sounds pretty rough. I'll stick with bourbon,beer and wine.
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Thu Nov 04, 2004 7:07 pm

Don't get me wrong, despite the description of TNBourbon, it is kinda tasty. I love to use it to make cocktails. Slow Comfortable Screws in the summer are fun :oops: (sloe gin, southern comfort, OJ)
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby cowdery » Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:11 pm

Full disclosure: I worked on the Southern Comfort brand for about six years, beginning shortly after Brown-Forman acquired it. Among other things, I wrote the recipe books and created drinks and drink names, although I can't take credit for Sloe Comfortable Screw. If I did invent it, I was too drunk to remember.

We always used to say that our biggest problem with marketing Southern Comfort was the fact that most consumers had tried the product, had a bad experience with it and rejected it, all before they were old enough for us to talk to them legally. The heritage of Southern Comfort is as a transition beverage from beer to whiskey.

It has another heritage, embodied in one popular nickname for the product: Old Legspreader.

Okay, okay. What is it? As Tim said, it is grain neutral spirits and a flavoring concentrate that contains a number of fruit concentrates and other ingredients, and a lot of sugar, but the primary fruit essense is apricot. And, of course, coloring. It only touches wood if they spill some on the floor. It is classified as a liqueur. In addition to the 70 proof, there is a 100 proof version.
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Unread postby Mark » Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:55 pm

Back when I was still in the military, before getting into bourbon, I used to always have a bottle of the 100 proof around and mixed it with plain ol' coke... A bottle of that on a Friday night, at that age, made for some fun parties! :lol:
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Unread postby The Whiskey Viking » Fri Nov 05, 2004 12:45 am

Mark wrote:A bottle of that on a Friday night, at that age, made for some fun parties! :lol:


Man have I had lots of drinks with SC in my days. About a year ago, in a moment of temporary insanity (some might say it’s not temporary) I acquired a bottle, for mixing drinks and stuff.
Guess what, I had one sip of a drink (mixed with coke) and all the memories came back – partying all night with the guys, dancing….. isn’t it nice.
Unfortunately it seams I’ve had to many hangovers :puke: partly due to SC. So I had to pour out the rest of the drink. Now the only thing I can drink with SC are “Slow Comfortable Screws up against the Wall”
Some things it seams belong as a memory.

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Southern Comfort Reserve 6YO

Unread postby The Whiskey Viking » Fri Nov 05, 2004 2:01 pm

Hi Chuck

Since you have been working at Southern Comfort, I thought you might be the right person to ask. I found a bottle called Southern Comfort Reserve 6YO. On the site they claimed it contained 6YO Straight Bourbon. Can you or anybody else here confirm, that the product actually containes whiskey? :scratch:
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Unread postby cowdery » Fri Nov 05, 2004 3:01 pm

I've never seen that product and it isn't sold in the U.S. I can't testify to the truthfulness of the labeling, though if that is what it says and it's real Brown-Forman SC and not a counterfeit, I have no reason to doubt it's true.

I worked there almost 20 years ago, so a lot has changed.
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Unread postby The Whiskey Viking » Fri Nov 05, 2004 3:41 pm

Hi Chuck

I think your right. I managed to find a close up picture of the bottle. Unfortunately I'm not able to attach the picture; instead I've added the address below. It seams it’s a blend, I can’t remember which Kentucky distillery is owned by BF, but I guess it would be save to assume, that it’s the product from that distillery that’s used. I think I might pick up a bottle in the nearer future, and do a comparison to the standard issue.
I’ll post my finding at that time.

Thomas

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Unread postby cowdery » Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:30 pm

What used to be called the Early Times Distillery, just south of Louisville, is now called The Brown-Forman Distillery. It makes Old Forester, Early Times, and some of the whiskey in Woodford Reserve.

Southern Comfort is made at the Brown-Forman facility in Louisville, associated with the corporate headquarters. No distillation is involved. It's essentially just mixed and bottled, using GNS from Illinois or Iowa that comes in tankers. The flavoring concentrate is made in Puerto Rico.
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:51 am

As some here know from other fora I have tasted the version of Southern Comfort which is blended with 6 year old bourbon, it is called Southern Comfort Reserve. It is a 40% abv product. As Chuck says it seems to be an export item only. I last saw it in the duty free at Fort Lauderdale airport. It is very good, the bourbon used deepens and broadens the flavor. But people can simply add their own bourbon to regular Southern Comfort and come up with something similar. I have tried this in different proportions. I like a 60:40 blend of Comfort and bourbon. You can use an old and younger bourbon in there too which I find gives it a better balance. The apricot and other fruity tastes in Southern Comfort are appealing and blend very well with bourbon. This is not a new notion because an Old-Fashioned Cocktail is something rather similar. If you go back far enough, fruits and other sweetenings have been used for generations to flavour whiskey and spirits (e.g. brandy and whisky shrubs, juleps, bounces, etc.). Southern Comfort Reserve is a very good drink and may bring Southern Comfort back (or closer) to its origins as (I presume but don't know for sure) a whiskey-based drink.

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Unread postby cowdery » Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:51 pm

Southern Comfort was, indeed, a whiskey-based drink originally, at least as nearly as we can tell. It was created in New Orleans, in a bar, and was originally called the Southern Comfort Cocktail. Since the highest form of alcohol in New Orleans in those day (late 19th century) was Cognac, the theory is that Southern Comfort was an attempt to make raw, domestic whiskey taste more like Cognac--a "poor man's Cognac," if you will.
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:27 pm

You know that's interesting because I noted on the back of the Southern Comfort Reserve bottle it states that coloring is added. In this case I am quite sure it is spirit caramel because I think I can detect the flavor, a pleasant dark sugar (dark butterscotch-like) flavor that melds well with the other tastes. In fact, whether it is the intention or no, adding this does give the drink a brandy-like effect. I mean, this isn't brandy but there is some resemblance to a fruity brandy such as today you might find in Armangac or Spain or Cyprus, the ones that have a mildly sweet orange or plum-like flavor. Maybe Cognac had it in the 1800's too before it became the standardised product it is today (at least the regular VS and VSOP's). When I made my own version of SC Reserve I added a dash of maple syrup to emulate that light brown sugar taste and I got close. Now that I think of it, I'll bet the sugar they used in that New Orleans bar might have been dark sugar or not as refined as sugar is today. So that might have lent a brandy-like effect right there even if the first manufacture proper of it didn't use an additive like spirit caramel although, that substance may have been in commerce then. Byrn (1870's) refers to burnt sugar (which is what spirit caramel is, basically) as something desirable to add to spirits to emulate barrel aging. He is very lah-di-dah about this, sure (he says) barrel aging imparts desirable color but hey don't worry you can get color by various short-cuts one of which is to add burnt sugar. I love the guy's practicality but he wasn't what we would call today one of the, "cognoscenti". :)

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Unread postby gillmang » Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:42 pm

I thought some people would from historical interest be interested in Byrn's (author of Complete Practical Distiller, a circa-1870 book published in Philadelphia, PA) other expedients to emulate the color of whiskey aged in wood barrels. He states you can use a "pint of parched wheat" and add that to a "barrel of whiskey", which he says gives a good color and improves the flavor.

If you have some Wheaties around, give them 30 minutes in the oven and add to a bottle of Georgia Moon, maybe it will taste like fine aged bourbon. :)

Second, he suggests adding oak bark shavings. I know some winemakers add oak chips to wines to impart an oaky or toasted taste, so this idea seems somewhat more "conventional".

Byrn has all kinds of ideas, e.g., contrary to the thinking today, he considers that liquor improves when stored in impermeable containers (whether glass or barrels specially sealed for the purpose). He advises to seal up barrels from the outside with an oil-based coating and then with pitch. He seems mainly concerned to avoid the economic cost of outage rather than to improve quality although he states clearly that spirits improve in containers impermeable to air, which seems rather startling today. Perhaps not everyone was convinced that long barrel aging was a good thing even some 40 years or so after it became the norm for fine bourbon and other quality spirits.

Byrn seems to contradict himself in that in another part of the book he advises to use temperature cycling for spirits in barrel to emulate long barrel aging. In his example, the spirits are kept in the artificially heated room for only a few weeks. He claims this can equal aging for a year or more. He states though that outage is the same either way.

I have the sense of someone who was a busy man in professional life and who only turned to the book when he had a few spare moments, so sometimes it seems repetitive or contradictory.

Still, it is a valuable resource to try to understand what whiskey was like in the mid-19th ecntury. He never uses the term bourbon for example although he does refer to whiskey made from "Indian corn". It seems at the time that the benefits of aging (as the discussion above shows) were understood but that whiskey, when it was aged, would not have undergone more than a year or so of storage and often was sold new, hence the many rectification techniques he describes. These include multiple distillation, dosing with fruity additives, charcoal and wool blanket filtrations of various types, chemical treatments of various kinds and simple "dulcification" (adding sugar).

There must have been numerous books of this kind written at the time sitting in libraries still and if one could read them all I am sure it would give a better picture of what bourbon and rye were like in the mid-1800's.

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