Why we had to save the tierçon
Thinking ahead is ingrained in day-to-day life at LOUIS XIII; it shapes every aspect of what we do. A decade ago, Pierrette Trichet, Cellar Master at the time, realised that, if LOUIS XIII wanted to have eaux-de-vie for the future Cellar Masters to create blends from, it was imperative that we revive the art of making tierçons
Pierrette Trichet, Former Cellar Master and Baptiste Loiseau, Cellar Master
How to revive the tierçon
LOUIS XIII had not produced tierçons since 1917; the unique savoir-faire had almost been buried in history. Pierrette Trichet and Baptiste Loiseau, who is now Cellar Master, initiated the revival. These incredibly rare tierçons, larger than a standard cask and handmade in particular from oak from the Limousin forests, are meticulously cared for, repaired and restored by the Cellar Master and LOUIS XIII coopers so that they can impart their unique aromatic characteristics to the eaux-de-vie.
“We spent over a year going through our archives, searching for records of former tierçon production methods. Then, in collaboration with world-leading cooperage Seguin Moreau, LOUIS XIII started making tierçons again. Since 2017, we have made around 15 new tierçons a year”, said Baptiste Loiseau.
Time transforms things
The tierçon's journey is born from a combination of raw material and savoir-faire. The tierçon comes into being over years, decades and centuries. The seed held within the acorn will, over the course of 150 years, gradually grow into a pedunculate oak. Once it has reached its full potential, the oak tree is felled, then, in a series of processes that span three years, transformed into a majestic LOUIS XIII tierçon. On completion, each new tierçon is filled with our young finest and richest Grande Champagne eaux‐de‐vie and left to mature. Over time, it gradually releases the full scope of its aromas and woody notes. When the tierçon is getting older, as of 50 years, it will be filled with our older finest and richest Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie which will reach the perfect ageing developmentand which will be part of the LOUIS XIII blend in the future, when myriad aromas intertwine to create a magnificent final blend. The tierçon and LOUIS XIII cognac share one important intrinsic quality: they are inscribed in time.
A transmission of savoir-faire
The making and preservation of tierçons require a preservation of savoir-faire, a transmission of heritage. In the same way that the Cellar Master will pass on his craft to the next Cellar Master, so too do the coopers pass on their know-how to the next generation in a continuous flow of knowledge and savoir-faire. Our four in-house coopers do not make new oak casks, they are responsible for fixing the old casks and tierçons. It is a technical skill that requires a respect for the wood and also the eau-de-vie contained within this wood. When a new cooper joins the LOUIS XIII team, they are meticulously taught this craft over the course of a year, possibly even two, so that they will be able to transmit their know-how on to the next generation of coopers. Transmission safeguards the longevity of the tierçons, and by extension, of LOUIS XIII cognac. It ensures the same level of excellence is achieved in the future.