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A Trip To The Tiffon Cognac House: Tiffon 1995 Grande Champagne & 1995 Fins Bois, Chateau de Triac, Braastad XO, Tiffon Cuvee Centenaire & Braastad Cocktail Edition

 

Cognac Day was around the corner, and so we have to have some Cognac to celebrate! Quite honestly, any day is a good day for some Cognac, really.

Yet today we've got an extra special touch from Tiffon, having send Export Head David Boileau, all the way down to give us a little refresher on Cognac and what Tiffon is all about! 

But first off, special thanks to the very lovely folks at Exciseman Bar in Singapore, who also run Le Vigne that distributes Tiffon's Cognacs, for their warmth! It was my first time meeting them and they were honestly so charming! When they asked if I'd be keen to come try some of Tiffon's Cognac's - having already tried on my own some of their century-old Cognac's that I lugged back from Norway, I of course said yes.

David went over a quick Cognac 101 covering it's history, how it's produced, as well as the main terroirs and crus - always fantastic because there's always something new I'm going to takeaway - this time I took away how Cognac has multiple orders of magnitude more aromatic compounds compared to other spirits, and that it takes 9 litres of white wine just to make 1 litre of Cognac. I've always mostly held on to the fact that Cognacs are entirely unique for the way it's stored - in glass demijohn's (think of it as a big glass bulb) that stop the ageing and freezes the Cognac's flavours pretty much in time, allowing blenders to draw on or entirely bottle Cognacs distilled over 100 years ago!

 

 

Tiffon having been established in the 1870's, is one such House that sits on such historic centuries old Cognac reserves. Seated in a gorgeous landmark, the Chateau de Triac, along the banks of the Charente River in Jarnac, Tiffon has largely focused on being both a grower and producer of Cognacs from the Grande Champagne and Fins Bois regions, with 40 hectares of vines that the family-owned Cognac house tends to, harvests, distills, blends and then labels as their own.

The majority of Cognac producers have typically followed the dynamic of primarily acting as a grower whom harvests from their vineyards but ultimately sell their Cognacs to the largest Cognac houses that then combines them into a mega blend. It's not widely known by most that the largest Cognac houses do not primarily produce their own Cognac, instead focusing on blending and marketing what they've purchased from the regions close to 400 growers (which is termed as being a negociant).

Now Tiffon is different - it controls the entire process from start to finish, and so with each bottle labelled by themselves, it bears a signature profile that the house delivers - in this case, David tells us to expect freshness, more florals and also a more pronounced acidity on the finish that keeps it refreshing. One of the unique aspects about Tiffon's Cognac-making is that it actively avoids active oak casks, and veer away from imparting much oak influences on the Cognac, and thus their Cognacs tend to age in really well-aged casks.

 

Chateau de Triac, along the banks of the Charente river, just 5 kilometers from Jarnac.

 

Now interestingly, Tiffon is deeply intertwined with another family, the Braastad's. This was the result of the heiress to the Tiffon house having married a young Norwegian man by the name of Sverre Braastad. The Braastad's weren't just any immigrants to the region - they remain well integrated into the Cognac scene, with numerous family members, including Sverre himself, having served in other Cognac houses. And thus you'll see Braastad feature around the Tiffon stable. Today, Tiffon is led by Richard Braastad, and you already know where that Braastad came from!

Tiffon produces three main lines of Cognacs - the main Tiffon brand which is defined by keeping to the house's traditional style and Cognac-making; the Braastad brand which encapsulates more experimental efforts by the house and so has a more modern feel to it, and finally Chateau de Triac, named after the estate that Tiffon resides in, this is reserved for only Cognac produced from Fins Bois harvested fruit that is aged for upwards of 50 years.

And so with all that said - it is, as they say, time to drink some Cognac! 

Braastad Cognac Cocktail Edition - Review 

 

 

Our kind host for the day, the Exciseman Bar in Singapore, which has a real nostalgic feel to it, giving me 80's English bar vibes, had started off with some welcome drinks - a combination of the Braastad Cocktail Edition Cognac, ginger ale and two slices of fresh ginger. This went superbly, although I must concede that I'm also a big fan of gingery spice!

It had all those earthy and spicy aromatics, with a refreshing spritzy carbonation, backed by a richer honeyed base that was giving green grape and yellow raisin notes. This was apparently done on the recommendation of David - a pretty solid and easy to prepare mixture, which is exactly the type of cocktail I endeavour to make. Call me lazy, I call it efficient.

This is the first time I'm having a Cognac-based cocktail personally - and I'm really enjoying it, which is pretty unusual considering I don't particularly enjoy cocktails as much as spirits and brews themselves. Who this?

The Braastad Cocktail Edition is, as the name implies, designed for cocktail making, and involved four bartenders who collaborated on it along with Tiffon Master Blender Richard Braastad - for bartenders, by bartenders is the slogan here. On its label you've got the signatures of the various bartenders signing off on it - a very cute label! A definite must-try if you're a bartender, I'd say.

  

 

Now with a cocktail in, it's time to get down to more Cognac business! Today we're going to try the following Cognacs: 

  • Tiffon Fins Bois 1995
  • Tiffon Grande Champagne 1995
  • Braastad XO Fine Champagne
  • Chateau de Triac Reserve de la Familia
  • Tiffon Cuvee Centenaire 100 Years Anniversary

Tiffon Fins Bois 1995 Cognac - Review

We started off with comparing the two Tiffon Single Cru Single Vintage (Millesime) Fins Bois 1995 and Grande Champagne 1995 at the same time as David used the pairing to demonstrate the effects of different terroirs on the Cognac - this is probably the first time I've had a true blue head to head and I have to say, I am surprised beyond belief.

But first, the Fins Bois 1995 is aged for over 20 years. It's single cru, so all the fruit harvested is from the family's Fins Bois vineyards.

   

Tasting Notes

Colour: Honey

Aroma: Opens up with lots of rich honey, green grapes, yellow raisins - your Cognac classic, but wait there’s also a good bit of floral scents of honeysuckle. We go on to more apricots and mangoes - it’s got a solid intensity and vibrance. All of which encased in some aromatic mustiness of wooden cellars. 

Taste: Rich, mellow, its got good body and brightness, with more on those honey decked yellow raisins. Here it’s alittle lighter, not quite so heavy.

Finish: Abit more dry here, more on raisins, and also some stone fruit of plums and figs. There’s a bit of bitterness here and acidity of plum pits and crushed almonds. Anise, cardamom, honeysuckle aromatics in the aftertaste.

 

My Thoughts

This stood out with a wider bouquet on the nose with more prominent florals that we don’t get too often. This gave it a more perfumed quality, alongside the sweet fruits and aromatic mustiness. On the palate, it’s got a good body and brightness, although it does tend towards the lighter side which could use more richness. Into the finish, there’s a little interesting twist here - as a demonstration of Tiffon’s intentional Cognac-making, they’ve made sure to include some acidity here to give a little pucker - here it’s presented in the form of plum pits and crushed almonds. It works well and is balanced against the sweeter fruits - very well done on that front!

A very approachable and good starter Cognac that has a wider set of aromatics and flavours, giving you the Cognac classics but also taking you further out to a new view - very fun! 

Tiffon Grande Champagne 1995 Cognac - Review

And then we have the 1995 Grande Champagne, also single cru solely from the family's Grande Champagne vineyards, also aged for over 20 years - just check out how different they are. Everything else has been kept the same, with the only difference being where the fruits are harvested from!

   

Tasting Notes

Colour: Honey, Alittle More Amber

Aroma: More honeyed, alot more confectionary here with buttery Graham crumble, apple pie, peach cobbler, it’s really rich and mellow, heaps of baked pastries with that very nice buttery richness, accompanied by light baking spice. With time it converges on ample apple pie and green grapes.

Taste: Fuller bodied here, we’re on to black grapes, maple with abit of a twang. Its got a good moderate richness and freshness.

Finish: Clean, here comes that acidity with a bit more bitterness of almonds, balanced by some raw honey and some peach aromatics.

 

My Thoughts

This immediately stood out for that incredibly buttery note of confectionaries and baked pastries that was just so ridiculously rich. It has an absolutely gorgeous bouquet. This one's fuller and richer in body, but shares that same trait of acidity and bitterness that shows up in the finish, providing a contrast against the sweet richness of the body. Again, the body here remains approachable, it leans lighter, and is an easy sipper, big aromatics, very delicately balanced on the palate.

And just because we were comparing this with the Tiffon 1995 Fins Bois, it's fascinating how you've got the same Cognac house who are both growers and producers, applying the same techniques to producing the same vintage of Cognac,s with just a difference in terroir, and the conclusion is such a vividly flavour profile! Certainly a good exercise if you ever want to clearly tell between the effects of the terroir as it influences the resulting Cognac.

Braastad XO Fine Champagne Cognac - Review

Our first Braastad! This one's an XO Fine Champagne, which is the classification used for a 50/50 blend of Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. It's XO so we know it's at least 10 years old here too. While Tiffon is primarily a grower and producer, managing its own vineyards and distillation, it does on occasion purchase fruit from other crus that it does not have vineyards in, in order to create blends of specific profiles - in this case, from the Petite Champagne region.

 

Tasting Notes

Colour: Maple, Amber

Aroma: Good freshness, there's a nice depth and intensity here, lots of black grapes, layered with brown sugar, along with notes of charcoal, mocha, dusting of cacao and cocoa powder - it feels almost chocolatey, outlined by orange peel. There's also a mustiness of something conjuring up a wooden cocoa warehouse.

Taste: More richness of cacao nibs, cocoa powder, interlaced with raw honey, wafts of lacquered wood, and then taking a darker, juicier turn, we've got cooked plums and blacked raisins. It's heavier on the chocolate, with lots of honey in the front, and in the back we've got the wood and dark fruits. It's very silky, with a velvety richness.

Finish: Acidity strikes! More bitterness, lightly tannic grape skins, coffee beans, black raisins, honey. More plushness ensues with a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. 

 

My Thoughts 

This is very flavour forward - big and heavy flavours, rich, great depth, good balance of that fruitiness and bitterness, decadent chocolatey vibes. It's still got good freshness, really solid flavour intensity and development here. I would have liked it a bit fuller bodied, but it does present a more approachable and not too heavy Cognac that almost feels more modern and precise. Have to throw in that this was quite the crowd favourite.

Tiffon Chateau de Triac Reserve de la Famille Cognac - Review

Big whopper alert! We get to the Chateau de Triac Reserve de la Famille, which is named after Tiffon's home along the Charente River, the family's crowning glory that was purchased by Sverre Braastad himself! This is aged for at least 50 years (!) from fruit only from the family's Fins Bois vineyard.

David takes it one step further here - and just keep in mind, you only get permission to do this from someone who's actually from Cognac folk - he gets us to pour alittle bit of this half a century Cognac on our palms, rub them till the alcohol dissipates, and nose it - this is what David terms as "rancio". Rancio is probably one of the most elusive and debated flavour note when it comes to distilled and long-aged spirits - for David, the best way to know what rancio is, is to take a long-aged Cognac, "at least 30 years old" is what he said, and rub it between your palms. I got immense dried sour plums!

Excited to give this a go!

 

Tasting Notes

Colour: Deep Amber

Aroma: Great chocolatey scents, accompanied by leather, milk coffee, brown sugar, honey - it's really rich. There's also an air of mustiness here of wooden cellars. More on cooked plums and black raisins.

Taste: The richness continues, translating to the palate. Thick and syrupy smooth with loads of honey, brown sugar, cacao, light touches of orange peel. It's got a good intensity and energy to it, still keeps itself punchy, and at the same time with a silky elegance. Really fresh, more on yellow raisins, black grapes. It's so cohesive and rounded.

Finish: Nuts! More nuts, black raisins, stewed plums, brown sugar, that signature acidity and bitterness of chopped almonds, but here there's also a more prominent rancio note with that oxidative quality that's giving dried sour plums. Deep warmth too!

 

My Thoughts

This was just absolutely stellar - it's so rich, velvety, it's muscular and elegant all at once with big and bold, heavy flavours, yet presented in with such delicate and firm structure and detail. At times it's hot and heavy, else it's giving crystalline brilliance. It's cohesive, rounded and with such great flavour development, on top of being well-expressed and integrated. Smashing!

Tiffon Cuvee Centenaire 100 Years Cognac - Review

Whenever you see some sort of unnamed mystery dram at the end of the masterclass - you know it's always going to be something special. And Tiffon did not let us down! We've got the Cuvee Centenaire that was created to celebrate the house's historic 100 year anniversary! Remember we talked about Tiffon sitting on some century old Cognac reserves - well this is it! It's a blend made with Cognac distilled at the turn of the 20th Century!

   

Tasting Notes 

Colour: Deep Amber

Aroma: Perfumed green grapes, it's plush and presented as an aromatic plume of bright and confectionary fruitiness and cotton candy. At the same time, there's a mellower and richer base note of black grapes with heaps of honey that gives it an incredibly candied quality.

Taste: Incredibly rich, great vibrance and intensity here. It's rather elegant in how straightforward it is with all these bright, crystalline fruits and candy - maltose candy, green grapes, yellow raisins, black Kyoho grapes. Just pure candied fruits that is reminiscent of tanghulu (a popular maltose candy coated fruit snack in North Asia). It's got an immaculate grape-y candy note to it that at times borders on grape jellies.

Finish: More of those candied yellow raisins, with a more restrained rancio quality here. Powered by black grapes and maltose candy into the finish.

 

My Thoughts 

A fitting crown on Tiffon's 100 years of history! This is everything that the tip top of what Cognac can offer should offer! It's pretty much shaved away any of the fat and denseness, leaving just pure elegance of bright fruits and crystalline candies. It's well saturated and full at the same time, with a great richness that is always just a mark of an absolutely incredibly Cognac when it is contrasted against the bright flavours. It's fruit candies galore! And with an added side of just a little bit of rancio. What an incredible expression we've got right here.

And I just have to add - when I saw the price tag, I was pretty damn shocked. Because what an absolutely steal this was - at alittle over US$1,100, considering this breathtaking example of perfection in a bottle and that nice bonus of its historic significance, let's face it, other spirits have asked way more for way less. That said, it is available by the pour over at The Exciseman Bar if you're ever in Singapore - for a Cognac aged for 100 years, come on!

 

Big shoutout to Exciseman Bar in Singapore and Le Vigne for inviting me to come try some of Tiffon's Cognacs - super charming bar, solid Scotch and even more solid Cognac selection, you've got to go visit!

 

Kanpai!

  

 

@111hotpot