Southern Comfort, in case you don’t know, is an American liqueur based around neutral alcohol and flavours of whiskey, fruit and spices. As such, it doesn’t contain any actual whiskey (although did at one time), although you can get a Special Reserve version from duty-free that combines the original liqueur with bourbon.
In the spirit of innovation, Southern Comfort Lime was launched in the UK in October 2011. At 20% ABV, compared to the 35% ABV of regular Southern Comfort, this was considered a lighter version with a fruity twist that could be drunk straight, over ice, or in simple mixed drinks.
Last month, this was joined on the retail shelves by Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry, which takes a slightly different angle, being 35% ABV, like the regular liqueur. Interestingly, although the labels don’t contain a huge volume of information, one distinct difference between the Lime and the Cherry is that the latter is called a “liqueur with whiskey”, rather than just a “liqueur”. The back of the label tells us a little bit more, explaining that the Cherry consists of: “Smooth Southern Comfort liqueur, blended with the finest whiskey and rich black cherry notes.”
Being a big fan of Jim Beam Red Stag and various other bourbon liqueurs, I was eager to give these a chance and see what drinks they worked best in. Here are my thoughts.
Southern Comfort Lime (20% ABV)
On its own
Nose: Lots of sweet lime, just like lime-flavoured jelly. This was accompanied by an edge of sherbet or fizzy candy that reminded me strongly of cola bottles at the end.
Taste: Sweet and syrupy, with a distinct lime fruitiness that was, again, very much like lime jelly. There was a light warmth on the finish.
From the freezer
There’s much more of a bubblegum sweetness on the nose. Despite having been in the freezer, this doesn’t taste particularly cold and isn’t as viscous as I had expected. We found it was best served as a shot and preferably one that had been directly chilled in the freezer, glass and all (please note, don’t leave glass in the freezer for more than half an hour, to avoid any breakages). The result is a very smooth, sweet shot that nonetheless has a fresh lightness to it.
This tasted just like a cola with lime, only a with slightly more rich, fruity taste to it. It had a pleasant, fresh aftertaste of sweet lime. Exceptionally easy to drink.
The Whey-Hey Lime
1 part Southern Comfort Lime, 1 part bourbon, a squeeze of a lemon wedge, all in a tall glass that has been filled with ice and topped up with ginger ale.
Very drinkable, with a distinct, lime creaminess that reminds me of lime cheesecake or Key Lime Pie. The added bourbon gives it some resounding warmth, but doesn’t take away from what is a very good long drink.
Strong Southern T
1 part Southern Comfort Lime, 1 part bourbon, topped up with lemon iced tea.
Very soft tea flavours to start, with an extra, fruity kick at the end and a wonderfully dry, lime finish. All of the flavours work exceptionally well together, making this a drink that is liable to disappear rather quickly! Would be superb with lots of ice as a summer cooler.
On its own
Nose: Delicious; very sweet cherry, just like cherry cola.
Taste: Again, sweet cherry cola came through, followed by a dry, slightly bitter aftertaste that covered the tongue and tasted a tad artificial. Understandably, given the presence of whiskey and higher %ABV, this was much warmer than the lime version.
From the freezer
Sweet, syrupy and noticeably chilled. The taste was full to the brim with highly sugary, cherry notes, akin to cherry-flavoured boiled sweets or lozenges, meaning that this didn’t make my favourites list.
I found this to be far sweeter when mixed with cola than the lime variety. Unsurprisingly, given what it tasted like on its own, this was – again – very much like a sweet cherry cola. A little too sickly for my taste, but I can imagine it being a favourite for many.
The Whey-Hey Cherry
1 part Southern Comfort Cherry, 1 part bourbon, a squeeze of a lemon wedge, all in a tall glass filled with ice and topped up with ginger ale.
An exceptionally refreshing way to enjoy this liqueur – delicious on this sunny day! The bourbon adds some weightier, wood notes, whilst the lemon and the ginger ale help to reduce the sugariness to a much sharper, sherbet-y sweetness. Easily my favourite of all of the drinks that we’ve tried.
Strong Southern T
1 part Southern Comfort Cherry, 1 part bourbon, topped up with lemon iced tea.
This variation doesn’t work quite as well as the one with the Lime; the bitter tannins in the tea are out of kilter with the sweeter cherry notes, resulting in a slightly dry, watery favour and a dull aftertaste, despite the fact that the bourbon adds a nice warmth. Not recommended.
Both of these liqueurs were rather sweet, but neither is particularly sickly and I was surprised at how well they worked with other ingredients to create some really quite enjoyable and impressively simple summer drinks, even if additional bourbon had to be added to really allow them to shine.
My favourite for the Lime was the Strong Southern T, whilst I found that the Whey-Hey Cherry was the best for the Cherry variety.
– Mrs. B.