Annual sales cognac: 1,300,000 bottles
Buy wine/eaux-de-vie from: Primarily Fins Bois, but also Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne
Vineyards of its own: 85 acres (Fins Bois) and 17 acres (Grande Champagne)

The cognac house was founded in 1875 by Médéric Tiffon who successfully runs the business for nearly four decades. When Médéric dies in 1913, the situation becomes problematic since there is no natural heir. A sister of Médéric accepts to assume the responsibility for the business, but she soon feels insufficient and asks her new son-in-law, the Norwegian Sverre Braastad, to replace her. Sverre, born in 1879, had come to Cognac in his twenties to work for the cognac firm Bisquit, summoned by his uncle, Halfdan, who was employed there.

Both Sverre and Halfdan remain faithful to the town and the two family branches will in time become one of the most influential names in Jarnac. Halfdan’s son, Christian marries into the Delamain family and becomes manager at Courvoisier and his grandson Alain takes over Delamain in the 1970s. Sverre, for his part, will have eight children and all five sons will at some point in time be involved in the family business. Sverre dies the day before Norway's National Day in 1979, a month from his hundredth birthday.

P23Tiffon’s beautiful main building near Charente (built in 1900).  

During virtually the entire 20th century the business is focused on selling cognac in bulk. Tiffon’s main markets are the Nordic countries, but the house also sells eaux-de-vie to Courvoisier, Hennessy and Martell. In 1922 the firm starts to export to Sweden and is among the very first to sell to the then newly formed State monopoly Vin & Sprit, a company which a few years later assists Tiffon with a loan to make it possible to buy the existing property on banks of the Charente in Jarnac.

Tiffon does well in its wholesale activities until the 1990s crisis, when demand in the US and Asia plummet. Some family members realize that something drastic has to be done to avoid bankruptcy. Fortunately for Tiffon, the crisis coincides with the Norwegian Vinmonopolet splitting itself into two separate companies, one responsible for sales and the other for purchases (Arcus). Contacts are made and in 1998 Arcus buys itself into Tiffon and the house begins the launch of its first cognac under the name Braastad. The launch is a success beyond expectations, and at the turn of the millenium the sales start turning upwards. The family can breathe more freely and start building strategies for the future.

Tiffon mainly buys wine and distils in its own distillery. The firm has contracts with hundreds of growers, most of them in Fins Bois. The house also has 100 acres of its own vineyards surrounding the family castle Château de Triac, the main part in Fins Bois and a smaller part in Grande Champagne. The private distillery operates ten 25-hectolitre alambics and supplies the company’s production almost completely.

 

P24

The Braastad cognac range consists of four quality levels: VS, VSOP, XO and XO Superieur. The VS is a blend of eaux-de-vie from Fins Bois and Bons Bois. The VSOP is made of grapes that mainly come from Fins Bois with a smaller portion of Petite Champagne and a little touch of old eaux-de-vie. The equally popular XO is a Fine Champagne, 14–18 years of age, a little drier and more elegant cognac, one that is appreciated by many women according to Jan Braastad. The XO supérieur, finally, is an assemblage of 20- to 25-year-old eaux-de-vie from les Champagnes and les Bois.

Alongside the Braastad range the house also offers the fabulous Château de Triac – Réserve de la Famille, a fifty-year-old cognac made of grapes from its own estate, exclusively stored in old casks. Exquisite!

Tiffon is led by Jan Braastad and his cousins, brothers Antoine and Richard Braastad. Jan is managing director, Antoine sales director, and Richard Maître de Chai (since 1989).

This is an abridged version of a translation of pages 92–93 of the Swedish book Cognac – kungen av eau-de-vier (Cognac – the king of eaux-de-vie) © Stevali Production and Gunnar Svedberg, 2014.
© Gunnar Svedberg 2015-11-05

 

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