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It was 1874 when M.W. Heron, a bartender at McCauley’s Saloon in New Orleans, overheard his patrons talking about how while they enjoyed their fair share of whiskey and bourbon, they wished there was something a little smoother to the taste available on the shelves of his bar and others. Electing to be a man of the people, Heron decided to see what he could do, and began mixing various fruits and spices with bourbon and called the final product “Cuffs & Buttons.”
What initially was an experiment to cater to what he thought was simply a local need soon took off, with demand for his newly concocted drink pouring in from all over the Southern region of the United States and beyond. It was then that Heron decided to rename and bottle the drink as ‘Southern Comfort’, and established the brand’s identity through his famous quote, “None genuine but mine.” His words have rung true over the years, with Southern Comfort winning multiple awards for quality and quickly becoming a household name in the beverage world, evolving to the point where the company has sold over a million cases of the drink for 25 years running.
“We’re a global brand that has had innovation embedded within our roots right from the start, and we’ve done our best to continuously represent that in the marketplace,” says Jennifer Powell, U.S. Brand Director for Southern Comfort. And perhaps the drink is so popular because its flavor and overall composition speaks to exactly to what the brand’s name is all about. “Given the nature and versatility of Southern Comfort, it really can go with anything or stand on its own, which speaks strongly to our “Whatever’s Comfortable” message we extend to our consumers,” she says.
It’s a significant statement, because in a world characterized by a crowded and competitive consumer industry that is constantly seeking to tell individuals what they should be, Southern Comfort takes a step back and allows them to decide for themselves. “Over the years we have really stayed true to who we are as a company, and we encourage individuals to do the same when they’re drinking Southern Comfort,” Powell says, adding, “There’s a lot of pressure in society today to take on different personas and fit a specific mold, but the whole point of Southern Comfort and the culture that comes along with our drink is to enjoy it when you’re most comfortable; which most often is when you’re being yourself.”
It’s why it’s tough to walk into a bar, restaurant, or supermarket and not see a broad stock of Southern Comfort spirits lining the shelves. And what started with an original recipe and single offering, has now grown to a wide variety of flavors, including Southern Comfort 100 Proof™, Cherry Comfort™, and Lime Comfort ™, amongst others.
New Flavor, New Look
Now, the company has released yet another flavor called Caramel Comfort™, and its taste and quality serves to further add to Southern Comfort’s dynamic offering of drinks for every occasion. “Much like our founder M.W. Heron did, we always are keeping our finger on the pulse of the consumer, and one of the things that has really emerged is the proliferation of flavored alcohol, initially in vodka and now we’re seeing it in whiskey,” Powell says, adding, “We saw the opportunity to impact this demand and decided that a caramel flavored spirit, previously unheard of, would be something that would really resonate with consumers looking to try a new drink founded upon what is an already extremely popular flavor.”
Caramel Comfort fits right in with the rest of Southern Comfort’s offering, in that it is made with high quality ingredients and can be enjoyed either as a single chilled shot or on the rocks, as well as mixed with a number of other beverages to take the drink a different direction. “Caramel Comfort goes great with just about anything, but we’ve seen Sprite and other lemon lime drinks emerge as perhaps the most popular pairing with it,” she says, adding, “We’ve even seen some consumers really think outside of the box and mix half of Caramel Comfort with half of Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire™ to create a delicious sweet and spicy shot, which just additionally speaks to the drink and flavor’s overall versatility.”
In addition to the new flavor, Southern Comfort has recently revamped its entire packaging platform as well, effectively bringing their products to the next level in both taste and look. “This new packaging is what we refer to as an update in our evolution; modifying the label, enhancing the glass, and just overall strengthening its presence on shelves,” Powell says.
The design, which was done by the award-winning strategic brand studio Helms Workshop, sends a strong yet playful message to consumers. With M.W. Heron’s name and famous quote inscribed on the glass and label, a fluted shoulder design at the top of the bottle, and a font that grabs your attention while not overdoing it, Southern Comfort’s new packaging respectfully gives a nod to their tradition and authenticity while emphasizing their unique and modern identity.
“Our bottles’ new makeover takes the Southern Comfort brand to new heights, and particularly with the flavored models, we wanted to produce something fun and relevant for the younger demographics as well,” Powell says, adding, “You’ll see that there are a number of easter eggs hidden within the designs, and on the back of each bottle is a list of wonderful drink suggestions to keep things fresh and new for consumers.”
It’s fitting that Southern Comfort has taken charge in the rise in popularity of flavored whiskey, given that they were the original creators of such. “We have every right to play in and lead this category, and between our established presence already, and the growing popularity of our drinks across a number of different social environments, Southern Comfort is a brand whose consumer demographics knows no bounds,” says Powell.
Both Powell and Svend Jansen, Global PR Manager for Southern Comfort, agree that while the United States is the clear stronghold for Southern Comfort demand, its presence around the world is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. “Southern Comfort is sold in over 200 countries worldwide, and I think that’s a testament to the wide variety of beverage and flavor varieties we offer across our line of drinks,” says Jansen, adding, “It’s truly a brand that is respected and enjoyed by just about anyone and anywhere.”
At the end of the day, Southern Comfort simply delivers on what it sets out to accomplish. “Life is better when you own who you are, and we want our drink in the hands of those who do so, because it’s all about being comfortable and enjoying each moment for what it is,” says Powell, adding, “Southern Comfort was founded upon this, and between a new flavor and packaging, and an everlasting respect for our historical roots, we believe the brand will easily continue its position as a leading option for those looking to have a drink and enjoy life.”