Monday, September 22, 2014

Southern Comfort Plantation, West Point a La Hache, Louisiana, 1834 - Part 1

Blogger's Note: Southern Comfort is such a prevalent alcoholic southern beverage, it was sent overseas to Allied troops during WWII as part of food rations.  Here is a brief history of Southern Comfort and the raised Creole cottage plantation house in Louisiana famous for appearing on the brand's label since 1934.

From the Edward Dillon website:

"Founder Martin Wilkes Heron, son of a boat builder, was born on July 4th 1850 in Ireland.  Soon after his birth, Heron’s family immigrated to New York, United States.  They settled in St. Louis, Missouri, a frontier outpost dubbed 'The Gateway to the West.'

In 1870, MW Heron left the family home and made the trek down the mighty Mississippi and found himself in the growing and lively city of New Orleans.  To support himself he took on a job bar-tending at McCauley’s Saloon on St.Peter Street in the French Quarter, serving barreled whiskey.

The casks of whiskey were rough-tasting on the palate due to the long journey they had to endure and when they arrived were therefore not the smooth-tasting whiskey we experience today. MW Heron was given a $300 barrel of whiskey from the bar owner and was told to improve the taste.  It fell on Heron to ‘rectify’ this rough-tasting and inconsistent whiskey to a more palatable and smoother drink.

New Orleans being a popular and famous port at the time for its imports Heron took advantage of all the fruit and spices which traveled through.  Using a secret blend of flavors including Vanilla, Orange and Cinnamon, he experimented until he hit the ‘Perfect Combination’ in 1874 - at the time he named this custom blend 'Cuffs & Buttons.'

Fun Fact: The new blend was called ‘Cuffs & Buttons’ to rival a competitor ‘rectified’ drink called ‘Top Hat & Tails’ which was also being served in the French Quarter.  Herons concoction however was a hit, relegating its rival to a footnote in history and establishing himself as a young legend in New Orleans.

With the recent success of Cuffs & Buttons Heron wanted to enter his product in the 1885 World’s Industrial and Cotton Exposition when it came to town.  In preparation for the big event Heron decided to change the name, to give it a more distinctive feel, and to describe its heritage and taste.

This is how it became known as “Southern Comfort’, 'The Grand Old Drink of the South'
Smoother and tastier than mere whiskey it was well received at the exposition and continued to be saluted as the gentleman's drink of sophistication and refinement.

In 1900, Southern Comfort entered the Paris World Exposition and wins a Diploma and a Gold Medal for Quality / Fine Taste.  Four years later, in 1904, Heron returned to his hometown for the St. Louis World Fair and again won the Gold Medal for Quality & Fine Taste."