G’day and welcome to just one last liqueur before I shift this site back to some more full-blooded malt.
And this week I’ve got some American whiskey. Neither Tennessee, nor Kentucky Straight Bourbon. From none other than N’Orleans, the party capital of the South. That’s right, Southern Comfort! This is another one that it’s ad campaign has been chasing me round like a puppy, so I thought I’d give it a bash. A black version of their original bottle. New Orleans needs no introduction in it’s contributing to the scene of the Southern wines and spirits, and just being one big party. Housed along the bank of the mighty Mississippi, famous the world over for it’s music scene, Cajun cuisine, paddle-steamers, and the parties. New Orleans, apart from Las Vegas is the only city in the U.S. where alcohol consumption is legal in public. There are countless bars, restaurants, hotels and champagne bars dotting the streets that have driven diners and drinkers wild for decades. And then there’s the most famous part of all N’Orleans, the aptly named Bourbon Street. The name itself, steeped in urban legend and bar folklore. The street, only thirteen blocks long, and yet it attracts millions yearly. The name came about from Louisiana’s old, deep French roots that organized the layout of the city and named the street after the medieval French royal namesaks house. And the legend goes, that the street’s name was the source of the subsequent Kentucky whiskey came to be known by, as it was certainly one of the many places that Kentucky Straight Bourbon came to be known as the American replacement for Cognac that it is today. A city that contributes to a more than healthy audience of drinkers that guzzle down the bourbon, champagne, wines and whiskeys all year round. So it made plenty of sense that eventually a whiskey would be born especially for (and/or by) the rich market of New Orleans.
Southern Comfort whiskey was originally sold under the name of “Cuffs and Buttons” by a barman, Martin Wilkes Heron in eighteen-seventy-four in McCauley’s Tavern. An invention of a carefully selected bourbon that was further infused and sweetened. Additions of vanilla bean, oranges, lemons, cinnamon, cloves, and cherries were made to the whiskey. And the unique liquor evidently caught on. After success with his whiskey, he moved to Tennessee, but continued to work with his creation, later patenting his whiskey. Where it came to bear the signature that it possesses to this day “None Genuine But Mine”. The label proceeded forward and eventually became the international success it is today. It comes as little surprise that this Louisiana-native drink should come to be property of the Sazerac Company, which so too is based in Louisiana. Their line today comprises of their standard bottle, a further strengthened one hundred proof bottle, and this week’s post – Their Black. I’m not going to bother to write about the standard bottle, for the same reason I don’t bother to write about Jack Daniels Old No. 7, Jim Beam White Label, or Bundaberg rum underproof. Because we’ve all been there, it would be such a menial review nobody would bother to read it. In the U.S. they even sell it in petrol stations along with other like-minded whiskey bottles. This bottle, is an extra oaked version of their standard bottle. And if you know me, you know how much I regard whiskeys that don’t skimp in the oak department.
The bottle, that is the literal bottle itself is completely identical to all others in it’s range. A seven hundred mill’ bottle, with a bulbed neck and an art deco corrugated texture leading up to it. The signature of it’s inventor, M. W. Heron embossed into the front of the bottle. The words “Southern” and “Comfort” debossed into either side. And a Fleur de Lis atop the cap. For a liqueur, it maintains an eighty proof potency. The bottle is the exact same, only the black of the label and the deep molasses brown of the liquor within distinguish it. I inhale a deep nose of deep, dark fruity palette. Rich of orange, licorice, and subtle floral hint. The taste catches me by surprise. It isn’t strong or overpowering by any means (or maybe that Fireball last week singed my tastebuds off). Examined more closely, the taste is sweet and supple. A mild tingle in the roof of the mouth, a sensation of licorice, a bitterness of cherry, mandarine, and a subtle flowery softness. And a hint of musty oak on the exit.
To summarize: A sweetened, soft and sedate American whiskey. That glides down the tonsils and soothes you. I may not be enjoying this in the company of a fiery Cajun chicken, a rowdy party crowd with confetti and party beads on the bank of the Mississipp’, or a jazz concert – But I can see how this would catch on. Although like any true whiskey, it calms you down and puts you at ease. So, any of you planning a Stag night, for your consideration; The city of New Orleans. Southern Comfort Black, cheers.