Southern Comfort bills itself as "the spirit of New Orleans," but the generic grain-neutral spirit base it contains (an ingredient not far removed from vodka) doesn't exactly scream "Deep South character." The Sazerac Company, owner of the college-staple brand, wants to change that perception—and hopefully sales—by reintroducing whiskey into the mix in redesigned bottles set to hit shelves in July, the New York Times reports. Sazerac, which VinePair notes also owns the Buffalo Trace bourbon and Bowman Brothers whiskey brands, wants to dump the "liqueur" association it believes consumers often attribute to Southern Comfort, bringing it back to its original roots by adding undisclosed types of North American whiskey in its own stash.
The Southern Comfort website explains the famous libation was first whipped up in 1874 by a bartender (identified by the Times as Martin W. Heron) who tried to tamp down the "harsh whiskeys of the time" by throwing in various fruits and spices. But the Times notes that by the time Brown-Forman took over the brand's barrels in 1979, the whiskey had been completely nixed from the mix—and once Sazerac bought Southern Comfort from Brown-Forman in 2016, the idea of adding whiskey back started gaining momentum. The company plans on phasing out flavored SoCo versions while retaining the 70-proof and 100-proof original recipes. It also wants to add in an 80-proof version with a black label on the bottle like those of competitors Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam. (The revamped SoCo will likely cost less than this Scotch whisky in a perfume-bottle-shaped decanter.)