Is Southern Comfort a Bourbon? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Lydia Martin

There is a lot of debate over whether or not Southern Comfort is a bourbon. The answer is…it depends on who you ask! Some people believe that because Southern Comfort doesn’t meet all the requirements to be called a bourbon, it can’t technically be called one. 

So, is Southern Comfort a bourbon? Let’s find out!

Southern Comfort – Bourbon or Not?

Southern Comfort

The short answer to this question is no. Southern Comfort is not a bourbon. Here’s the deal – Southern Comfort was created in New Orleans in 1874 by M.W. Heron. It contained a blend of whiskey, fruit juices, and spices at the time. 

Today, Southern Comfort has a neutral grain spirit and fruit juice, but it doesn’t technically meet the requirements to be classified as a bourbon. However, Southern Comfort has a long history and association with bourbon whiskey, so many people think it’s bourbon. 

What Makes It NOT Bourbon?

To be classified as bourbon, a whiskey must be made in the United States. It should also have at least 51% corn. Southern Comfort is actually a liqueur, which means it is a spirit flavored with fruit, spices, or other flavorings. Liqueurs are typically sweeter than whiskey, and they have lower alcohol content.

What Type of Alcohol Is Southern Comfort?

Southern Comfort with cocktail

Many believe that Southern Comfort is a bourbon because of its origins. However, the company that makes Southern Comfort does not consider it a bourbon. So, what type of alcohol is Southern Comfort?

Southern Comfort is a liqueur. A liqueur is an alcoholic drink flavored with fruit, herbs, or spices. Liqueurs are typically sweeter than other types of alcohol.

Southern Comfort is also a popular choice for cocktails due to its unique flavor. You can mix it with soda or juice or even add it to coffee

Read: How Do You Make Bourbon?

Fun Facts

Fun Facts

Rich History of Southern Comfort

Did you know that Southern Comfort was originally created in New Orleans back in 1874? The man behind this iconic spirit was M.W. Heron, a bartender who wanted to create a more “smooth” version of whiskey. So, he started experimenting with different flavorings and settled on a blend of fruits and spices.

Records also show that Heron originally called this concoction “Cuffs and Buttons” but he renamed it Southern Comfort later on. 

Rock star Janis Joplin [1] was a huge fan of Southern Comfort, and she often appeared on stage with a bottle on hand.  

Base Materials


Southern Comfort was originally made with distilled grain mash, but the brand came to different hands several times after Heron died. The liqueur’s whiskey base was momentarily replaced with neutral grain spirit, like vodka

When Sazerac bought it in 2016, the production started using whiskey again as its base. 

Interestingly, Southern Comfort was classified as a “fruit cordial” when first created. But, in 1964, the U.S. government decided to reclassify it as a “whiskey-based liqueur.”

While the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, we know that Southern Comfort has corn mash, fruit, and spice. 

Average Price

A bottle of Southern Comfort will set you back about $15-$20 for a 750ml bottle. Not too bad for a taste of history, huh?


Can you drink Southern Comfort straight?

Yes, you can! Many people enjoy Southern Comfort liqueur neat or on the rocks.

What liquor brands taste almost like Southern Comfort?

If you’re looking for a similar flavor profile as Southern Comfort, try Yukon Jack or Wild Turkey.

To Sum it Up

The simple answer is no. Southern Comfort is not a bourbon. It’s actually a whiskey-based liqueur infused with fruits and spices.

But it’s still a delicious spirit that’s perfect for sipping on a warm summer day. So if you see a bottle of Southern Comfort at your local liquor store, don’t hesitate to give it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised. Cheers!



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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