My jaw may have dropped open the first time I stepped foot inside Vom Fass. The well-lit little shop, located on the ground level of Shangri-La Plaza’s posh East Wing, is like Disneyland for people like me who like to cook. Casks of properly aged spirits sit on the right hand side. On the left are clear, glass balloons containing colorful liqueurs and spirits of varying alcohol levels. And at the very back is my personal heaven on earth, containers upon containers of different varieties of oils and vinegars that, combined with a little kitchen creativity, present endless culinary possibilities.
Vom Fass is a German phrase that means “from the cask”. It is the brainchild of Johannes Kiderlen who opened the first store in Regensburg, Germany 20 years ago. The store is called thus because it operates on the concept of letting people sample the products “from the cask”. The first Vom Fass branch in the Phillipines opened in 2013 and has enjoyed immense popularity from the country’s chefs and gourmands.
If you’re intimidated to go in the store because the products are a little overwhelming, don’t be. The staff is friendly, helpful, and vastly knowledgeable of their products. How exactly does it work? Whatever you want to buy in the store, you’re free to sample. The staff will help you find something that suits your taste. You’re given a little plastic spoon to taste drops of the oils, vinegars, and liqueurs. A little wine glass is provided for those who want to try the spirits. Everything is priced per 100ml. The store carries beautiful glass bottles of different volumes for your first purchase. For uniformity’s sake, customers are not permitted to bring containers that were not bought from the store. Bottles that were procured from the shop can be brought for your subsequent purchases.
Vom Fass uses the best ingredients from the best sources: hazelnuts from France, avocadoes from New Zealand, mangoes and calamansi from the Philippines, argan nuts from Morocco, and so on. Their products are made from their headquarters in Waldburg, Germany and shipped to their partners from 250 shops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, France, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Japan, USA, and the Philippines. Vom Fass was brought here by entrepreneur Andy Sambar and his family. Currently, their sole shop here in the Philippines is the one in Shangri-La Plaza. More branches are slated to open in SM Aura and other locations.
Vom Fass products have won numerous awards from European award-giving bodies such as the International Taste & Quality Institute from Brussels. I got to try some of their award winners, the Blueberry Balsamic Star (P820/100ml) which is tart at the fore, not too acidic, and goes down smoothly. The Forest Raspberry Star (P770/100ml) has a tartness that’s more prominent than that of the blueberry and its acidity is more pronounced, it’s perfect for meat dishes, desserts, and non-alcoholic aperitifs. My personal favorite is the Aceto Balsamico di Modena – Maletti (P720/100ml). It is balsamic vinegar as it should be: thick and fragrant with just a whisper of sweetness. Its acidity hits the back of the throat but not in an unpleasant manner. Slather some of it on strawberries for a transcendental food experience. I like to mix it with a little bit of the White Truffle Oil (P380/100ml), a couple cloves of crushed garlic and use it for dipping crisp and chewy ciabatta rolls. They have a helpful chart in the store that will guide you as to which oil goes best with which vinegar. I also really like the Apple Balsamic Vinegar (P160/100ml) because it makes for a refreshing drink when mixed with cold water and a little bit of honey.
I got to try some of the spirits as well. I particularly liked the Limoncino (P140/100ml) from Italy because it was sweet and lemony. Don’t let its cheerful yellow color fool you because it packs quite a punch. Brazil’s iconic Caipirinha (P140/100ml) was also quite enjoyable. Vanilla Dream (P140/100ml) is one of their best-sellers because who doesn’t like Vanilla? It has the texture of Irish Cream but with a strong vanilla taste.
I am no expert on Whisky (or Whiskey depending on where it was made) and Rum but I was eager to try the ones from Vom Fass because I have heard and read that they are some of the best in the world. I tried a 17-year old Jamaican Rum (P530/100ml) that was surprisingly spicy and a best-seller, the 16-year old T-spooned Malt Whisky (P600/ml) that went down much smoother than I anticipated.
Vom Fass can customize your bottles which make excellent gifts. Their stocks were practically wiped out last Christmas.
Look. Taste. Enjoy. That is what Vom Fass is all about.
Visit Vom Fass at the Lower Ground Level of Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing. Contact Vom Fass at (02) 470 5541, log on to http://www.vomfass.com, Like their Facebook page (VomFassPH) and follow them in Twitter (@VomFassPH) for more information.
Additional photos courtesy of Vom Fass.