Feed Me: Hop-scotching at Vom Fass
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – “It’s experiential, I serve this one when I’m trying to impress someone,” says my enthusiastic, opinionated guide to scotches at Vom Fass as he pours a tiny swig of the 16-year-old Craigellachie into my glass. “You can always dumb a scotch down, but you can’t add taste to bad scotch.”
My notes from that “experiential” scotch: “Sweet until it kicks your ass. Start is nice, and finish is like a dagger to the back of the throat. Ouch. Really. Ouch. But I want more.”
Vom Fass, which has a handful of locations around the world, specializes in the best of the best of food and drink. The Jackson Vom Fass, however, according to my guide, is the only location in the world to carry spices and alcohol.
Walk through the store’s front door, tucked into the ground level corner beneath Rare Gallery on Town Square, and a wall of casks, each full of a different spirit, greets you to the right. To the left are additional liquors such as brandy, absinthe and rum. There’s also a climate-controlled spice emporium inside the store. Oils and vinegars, in bottles spanning a variety of sizes and shapes, line shelves in the middle of the shop.
As delicious as the Plum Balsamic Star looked, I was at Vom Fass to get my scotch on. My longtime favorite scotch, Oban 14 Year Single Malt, has been getting more and more difficult to find in the valley, not to mention more expensive. I needed to find other options.
In the winter and spring, Vom Fass periodically has scotch, oil, and balsamic tastings for nominal fees. (The tasting I went to was $15.) Sadly, during summer, such events must be privately scheduled. They’re not nearly as expensive as you would expect, however.
Yes, Vom Fass sells scotches priced as high as $250 per fifth. Last week, when I called to get the price for a tasting, I was told it was $400 for you and as many friends as you can rustle up. It includes scotch and also cheese, salami, and cracker niblets. If you’ve only got four friends, this is pricy, but $400 covers 20 people too. $20 a person is less than two cocktails at The Rose.
What are you waiting for?
Later in the tasting…Vom Fass Guy: “This one isn’t for me. It’s not something I enjoy. It’s my least favorite scotch we’ve ever sold. I hate it.” He was talking about Auchentoshan, aged 14 years. The tasting notes provided to me by the store included, “Called Glasgow’s ‘malt whiskey.’”
My notes: “He’s totally right. Yuck.”
Even later in the tasting…VFG, offering Bowmore, aged 22 years: “This is about as smoky and peat-y as they come.”
Ninety minutes after we had started drinking, I not only had tasted 11-year old Blair Athol and 16-year old Craigellachie, but thanks to the scotch coach, knew how to pronounce the latter, Cra-GELL-i-key. I had also tasted a Glengoyne aged 12 years that used hot air instead of a kiln to halt the malting process. I learned what this meant. The idea is that the hot air will give the scotch a cleaner taste.
I tasted a Dailuaine, aged 29 years, priced at $250 for a fifth. Thankfully I didn’t fall in love with it. My notes on that one include, “Smells a bit like a hamster cage.” It did, however, have a wonderfully creamy finish.
In total, we tasted at least 15 different scotches, none of which you can buy anywhere else in the valley. They would even be difficult to find anywhere else in the country.
Anyone want to join me for an absinthe tasting in the nearish future?
Vom Fass is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. 60 E. Broadway. 734-1535; vomfassjacksonhole.com
PHOTO CREDIT: GERALDINE MISHEV