Southern Comfort occupies an interesting spot in the spirits cannon. For most, it’s a sweet spirit that was consumed in vast quantities during our college years, and like Jagermeister defined the young and dumb era of our drinking. But Southern Comfort isn’t nearly as bad as we may remember, and while it is a tad sweet, it easily mixes with all things carbonated. In many ways Southern Comfort is one of the original whiskey liquors that have become much more popular recently (like Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey). This category generally presents a light whiskey flavor without the bite and fire associated with whiskey. It’s odd then that Southern Comfort has gone with a fiery pepper flavor profile for their latest release, when avoiding fiery is pretty much the reason people drink Southern Comfort. Perhaps it’s the unavoidable tie in with the other iconic Louisiana brand, Tabasco, that’s more the motivator.
Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper (35%, 70 proof $12) is amber red in color and smells a lot like a Tabasco candy with the peppers backed by cotton candy and bubble gum. The nose just isn’t all that inviting and there’s an artificiality to both the pepper and sweet notes. The entry is fairly true to the nose with a big hit of both Tabasco and bubble gum. In the mid palate, the Tabasco spice gets added to the mix and it sticks around in an odd mix of sweet and pepper. This spice really lingers on the finish like an unwelcome guest and sticks around much longer than we’d like. The overall spice level here is fairly low to medium, ranking right around your average red hot candy. The heat does build as you drink it. Chilled, Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper holds together a bit better but it still can’t get past the poor combination of flavors.
Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper unfortunately really misses the mark. With Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, we got a nice sweet entry level into the world of Jack Daniels; here, we’ve got something that complements neither Southern Comfort nor Tabasco. For heat like this, our real preferred method of delivery is using bitters – they capture the essence of the peppers better and you can dial up or down the heat depending on your taste. We also struggle to see where Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper is going to fit in. As a straight chill shot, it’s not up to par with many of the other current liquors being poured from chill shot machines (even Fuchen, which we are pretty luke warm on). The spice would be nice for a bloody mary but the artificial notes here would wreak havoc on the drink. With the Tabasco notes, it doesn’t go very well with many of the common Southern Comfort mixers (lime juice, soda, orange soda). Southern Comfort Fiery Peper feels like an odd man out. With flavors that don’t mesh, a harsh artificiality to the flavors, and a finish that is nothing short of unpleasant, we’re recommending you skip Southern Comfort’s latest release.