The Need to Knows:
Name: VOM FASS Singapore - ION Orchard
Address: ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, #04-25 S(238801)
Opening Hours: 10:30am-10pm
It's been a while since SGwhisky has been able to find a nice new place to talk about, but I've been lucky enough to find a nice new whisky haunt that retails really interesting whiskies, and sells some whisky using a very interesting and refreshing concept. Hailing from the whisky-loving country of Germany, SGwhisky is proud to highlight VOM FASS, a retailer specializing in whiskies, spirits, as well as oils and vinegars.
To date, VOM FASS has two outlets in Singapore, and to give both their own airtime, SGwhisky will be dividing them into two different posts. This first post is on the older of the two outlets, VOM FASS ION Orchard, which opened its doors in 2009, and has slowly but surely built a very respectable whisky collection in its store.
The VOM FASS system is one that unique yet extremely popular in Europe. Their stock, be it spirits, oils, vinegars and, yes, whiskies, are available as 'open stock', where you pick it and then you bottle it yourself, using a selection of bottles available at the shop ranging from functional kitchen bottles to fancy decanters. This allows the consumer the chance to actually taste some of the whiskies as well as place them in a bottle of choice before eventually buying them.
The Open-Stock, whiskies, as one would expect, is the pride and joy of the VOM FASS whisky collection, and is the main selling point of the shop. Shop owner Stefan Kromat, who owns the distribution rights for VOM FASS products here in Singapore, has a rich array of open stock whiskies ranging from the basic Vatted malts and Kentucky Straight Bourbons to specialist whiskies that appeal to the more discerning whisky drinker. The more interesting expressions here include a Cask Strength Benrinnes 13YO, a Macduff 30YO and a hidden gem, a Highland Park 24YO bottled at 47.1%. Stefan explains that these open stock whiskies have been around since the shop opened in 2009, and their popularity has led to him beginning to bring in a larger amount of such whiskies to meet demand. This system, he explains, allows for more loyalty as customers come in to refill expressions that they themselves enjoy, and also allows for the versatility in terms of bottle size instead of the standard 700ml bottles whiskies usually come in.
As for the alcoholic strength, VOM FASS is lucky enough to secure the whiskies in Europe at cask strength, unfiltered, allowing them to be as innovative as they want in the dilution process. Stefan explains that VOM FASS in Germany reduces the percentage of their whisky to the point they feel it is the most ideal, and they also put their whiskies through a much milder form of filtration that standard industry chill-filtration, allowing for more flavour.
At the moment there are about 10-20 whiskies available on the tap, with more slated to come in, but the bulk of VOM FASS ION's collection of 150 whiskies come from their single bottles which they bring in as well.
VOM FASS ION started bringing in bottled whisky in 2011, following an increase in demand from their clientele for specific brands of whisky. To date, they now have over a 100 different types of whisky by the bottle, and it is clear that these whiskies were strategically hand picked by VOM FASS. Aside from the more popular brands like Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, the majority of whiskies available by the bottle are rarely seen in Singapore. VOM FASS carries an interesting array of whiskies that include lesser known brands like Knockando (specifically Diageo's special release for the distillery in 2011, the Knockando 25YO), Tomintoul, Dalmore and Bruichladdich's famous Peated whisky, the Octomore. The shop also stocks a very nice collection of Old Macallans from vintages throughout the mid 1900s, along with a very expensive Hankey Bannister 40YO Blend.
Independent bottling-wise, VOM FASS also brings in a few intereting expressions including a few from Independent bottler Duncan Taylor, Speciality Drinks' Islay whisky 'Port Askaig', as well as a Murray Macdavid Mission 29YO Port Ellen for those fans of the lost distillery.
One of the most interesting independent releases available would be the Malts of Scotland range, which is a small independent bottler from Germany, which has garnered critical acclaim from the whisky drinking public in Europe. VOM FASS carries 3 whiskies at the current moment from this bottler, including a very interesting 1972 Glengoyne and an exclusive 1995 Bowmore.
Speaking on his bottled whisky collection, Stefan states that he brings in only those that people demand and at a smaller volume so that the turnover is very fast. VOM FASS works with Glen Fahrn, a reputable whisky company in Switzerland, to get most of its stock, and that means that availability of stock does become an issue since most of it is not recurring stock. The flexibility with the smaller volume though, means VOM FASS Singapore is able to bring in whiskies specific to the buyer's needs, though one must be prepared to pay a premium for it.
Looking to the future though, Stefan is cautiously optimistic about the growth of the whisky market, and hopes to continue expanding VOM FASS' whisky collection. On top of new open stock whiskies, he is also looking to bring in more exclusive brands with the idea of a Single Cask whisky for Singapore also in the pipeline. Personally, this is indeed a great idea and it holds much promise for the Singapore whisky scene!
If whisky is not your thing though (why have you kept reading this post then! I'm just kidding!), or you want to offer the non-whisky drinking folk with you something else to do while you pick your dram, VOM FASS ION also has a healthy range of oils, vinegars and spirits and cream liqueurs to meet one's every need. The shop offers a extensive selection of oils and vinegars sourced from Europe, including very high quality Olive Oil (I personally like the Santini Olive Oil), Hazelnut Oils, and of course, Truffle Oil! The Truffle Oil is bang on the money in my humble opinion. If one is looking for vinegars, there is a nice range of Balsamic vinegars across a healthy spectrum of aging, and VOM FASS carries a wonderful Raspberry Vinegar made from Forest Raspberries.
As for Liqueurs and spirits, VOM FASS carries some interesting sherries, rum, grappa as well as cream liqueurs for those with a real sweet tooth and like rich apertifs. VOM FASS ION also carries a nice selection of rare wines, including Barolo wines and revered expressions from legendary French wineries like Chateau D'Yquem.
With such a nice array of items, it is no surprise that VOM FASS is slowly climbing the ladder to success. From a whisky perspective, it is exciting to see new concepts available in the market, and a new place to get some great drams. SGwhisky will definitely be doing a review or two of VOM FASS ION's whisky selection soon so keep your eyes on this space!
SGwhisky would like to thank Stefan Kromat and the staff of VOM FASS ION Orchard for their kindness and hospitality.
Note: This is the first of a two part series on VOM FASS Singapore, stay tuned for SGwhisky's write up on VOM FASS Marina Bay Sands soon!