Yep, that's right: it didn't before
When it was first created in 1874, Southern Comfort was a whiskey-based concoction. Though the recipe for Southern comfort has remained a secret, it was probably something like whiskey steeped with cinnamon, citrus, cherries, vanilla, and honey, making for a sweeter, smoother drink than whiskey alone. However, sometime along the way, before 1979, when the company was sold to Brown-Forman, the whiskey in Southern Comfort was replaced with grain alcohol—not unlike vodka—and whiskey flavoring. This clearly didn't make a difference to the frat bros that have slurped it up with unfortunate abandon, but fortunately for the whiskey-lovers among us, Sazerac, who bought Southern Comfort last year, have pledged to put whiskey back in Southern Comfort, according to The New York Times.
This reintroduction is part of a large effort by Sazerac to make Southern Comfort relevant again. Southern Comfort's redesigned label and bottle will launch in June, and other, schtick-y flavors like Lime Comfort and Caramel Comfort will eventually be removed from shelves.
For people who have sworn that Southern Comfort always contained whiskey, going back to the alcohol's roots is reassuring. Mark Brown, the chief executive of Sazerac, said that the whiskey that will be integrated into Southern Comfort will all come from Sazerac's stock.
Alongside the 70-proof and 100-proof versions of Southern Comfort already on the shelves, the company will introduce an 80-proof version with undeniable whiskey notes. In addition, they'll play up the whiskey origins, with bottles called Southern Comfort Rye and Southern Comfort Barrel Select.
“For us, whiskey is the root of the brand and we’re going to embrace that, and not play in that liqueur space,” Mr. Richards told the Times.