Southern Comfort is a liquor blended from whiskey, various spices and fruit flavorings and is owned by the Brown-Foreman Corporation. While many people believe that it is based on bourbon whiskey, it is actually not, except for one offshoot brand, retaining its brown coloring instead from caramel coloring. The liquor comes in various proofs that are available in the United States and exported abroad, ranging up to a 100 proof grain alcohol.
Martin Wilkes Heron is credited for inventing Southern Comfort, though exactly where he did this is unknown. It is said it happened in New Orleans, Louisiana, before he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to bottle and sell the liquor. He began to market the drink, and it gathered the attention of many at the 1904 World’s Fair, where it won a gold medal. It quickly became one of the most famous brands of whiskey , and in 1930 it adopted the Woodland Plantation as its logo.
Southern Comfort can generally be distinguished by its proof, which varies depending on the type you buy. The proof is the alcohol percentage content of the liquor, which can be determined by halving the proof. In most places there is 100, 76, 70 and 40 proof Southern Comfort. In Australia and New Zealand, there is a 60 proof version. As far as the makeup of the liquor is concerned, there is regular Southern Comfort and Southern Comfort Reserve. The later is a bourbon blend that has a proof of 80.
The base ingredient of Southern Comfort is a whiskey derived from neutral grains, which create a clear or light color. Caramel coloring is added to give it its distinct copper color. The liquor has a sweet taste that clashes with the bitter strength of the liquor, which is derived from spices and fruit flavorings. These include cinnamon, vanilla, peach, orange, apricot and sugar. Everything is combined to create a unique taste that is great mixed with fruit juices, sodas or straight or on the rocks.
Southern Comfort is responsible for the creation of a number of popular mixed drinks that use the liquor as a base. Some examples are the Alabama Slammer, the Blind Andy, the SoCo Manhattan and the Red Devil or Red Death. Southern Comfort has also made its way into many popular culture references. This includes being mentioned in novels by Stephen King, plays by Tennessee Williams and was referenced as the drink leading to Jim Morrison’s drug addictions in Oliver Stone’s movie, "The Doors."
Any alcohol can be dangerous when drunk in excess, and Southern Comfort is no different. If you plan on drinking it, do so responsibly. Too much Southern Comfort can cause alcohol damage and permanent damage to your liver. Be especially careful when handling the more potent higher proof versions. Use these as mixers with fruit drinks or sodas, but do not drink them alone. If you want to drink Southern Comfort straight, purchase a low proof type.
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