Oh What a World…of Whisk(e)y! Pt. 3

Our final foray into the wold of whisk(e)y takes us home. So don your reds whites and blues and tell Johnny to strike up the band because baby it’s time to talk about America!

Corn, barley, rye and wheat. The usual suspects of whisk(e)y production across the globe. The United States is to be thanked for taking those ingredients and birthing a few of her own original spirits. Namely, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. Like Scotland and Ireland we have our own set of regulations to follow when producing America’s finest. Though you will notice they are…shall we say, more relaxed? This is a recurring theme with alcohol production here in the states. Comparing America’s craft beer market, responsible for IPAs incorporating habanero peppers as well as Rocky Mountain Oyster Stouts (if you are unaware of what this means, do yourself a favor and keep it that way), to brewers in Germany, you will notice QUITE the difference. The Purity Law of 1516 firmly regulates beer production in Germany. It declares that that the only ingredients to be used are water, barley and hops (yeast as well but no one knew what the heck that was in 1516).

This is all to say, we do things our way and tend to let innovation and ingenuity run a little wild!

Bourbon! Originally crafted in Kentucky and now made as far and wide as Minnesota, is a spirit whose mash bill (or recipe) must be comprised of at least 51% corn and can be distilled to a proof no higher than 160. The remaining 49% is up to the distiller and can vary dramatically from producer to producer. Upon entering the ageing stage, this spirit must be no stronger than 125 proof Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. New barrels. Every. Single. Time. The luckiest of those bourbon barrels make their way to Scotland to be used in Scotch Whisky production. It is important to note that there is no minimum age requirement for Bourbon. Many enter the market at no older than just a few months. More often than not you will find Bourbon to be a fuller feeling, sweeter spirit on the palate with kisses of char, smoke and vanilla. We currently carry several different Bourbons at vomFASS in MOA. Panther Distillery in Osakis Minnesota produces “Pike Street” and “Saint Paul,” both 3 year old Bourbons. A personal favorite of mine is made as far South and as far East as one can travel in Minnesota. “Giants of the Earth” is a 2 year old Bourbon distilled by Rockfilter all the way down Spring Grove, MN. Produced for vomFASS are “Two Georges High Corn” and “Northern Plains” Bourbons. The former being produced from 81% corn and the latter being a blend of Kentucky and Wisconsin Bourbon.

Tennessee Whiskey! Decidedly NOT Bourbon in the way Cremant is not Champagne. Varying by a small margin technically but worlds apart in history, these two spirits have one key difference: Charcoal. Here we go with the weird America stuff again. Tennessee Whisky is produced the same way Bourbon is but just before barreling the clear corn spirit is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Some people make their own charcoal by burning whiskey soaked sugar maple while others simply soak the charcoal with the soon to be whiskey. Tennessee Whiskey will have a smoother personality, a taste similar to Bourbon and of course a rather distinct charcoal presence. Tennessee Whiskey is also a killer song by Chris Stapleton.

To be covered in a future entry you can also find Rye and Wheat based whiskey here in the USA. More specifically you can find them on our shelves at vomFASS at Mall of America! Next time you find yourself in our neck of the woods be sure to ask about our, Two Georges line of whiskey. We can get you a taste of the Bourbon, Rye and an exceptionally unique Wheat Whiskey.

Indeed, whisk(e)y has many faces. Some of which are specific to the land in which they were first born. Others are finding new homes across the world as people strive to satisfy the thirst for high quality spirits we all seem to share. Whichever expression you are to enjoy next we hope you’ll do so with a bit deeper of an understanding and appreciation for the history and labor behind each Whisk(e)y.

Will O’Reilly continues to talk about the world of alcohol long after you stop even listening. Find him at vomFASS on level 3, north, in Mall of America!

Oh What a World…Of Whisk(e)y!

Alcohol! With many different cultural expressions all over the globe its often easy to confuse one expression with another. Take Whisk(e)y for example; Whisk(e)y itself isn’t so much a product as it is a process. Or rather a product that is defined by a process. And that process has different rules and regulations depending on the dirt your standing on. Some of us prefer Bourbon to Rye or Irish Whiskey to Scotch Whisky. But do you know the core differences between them? The answer is more than just geography. Breaking down the different faces of Whisk(e)y and what the deal is with this seemingly silly parenthetical ‘e’ will be the goal of the coming weeks blog entries. So stay tuned!

As a general rule of thumb I don’t like to generalize about the vast world of alcohol too much. Lumping things together in one category and slapping a label on it does a disservice to the nuances and creative mold breaking that takes place at, say, different Scotch distilleries. That said, for ease of conversation, I’ll be speaking a bit generally today. So take this with a grain of salt and understand that the alcohol rabbit hole goes deep. There’s always something more to be learned about each one of these products and the people (heroes?) making them. Conveniently, after your thirst for quality Whisk(e)y has been stirred up you will be able to find some excellent expressions of Scotch, Irish and American Whisk(e)y available at the vomFASS Mall of America location.

This week we are going to focus on Scotch. What is single malt Scotch? Single malt Scotch Whisky is a product that comes from one single distillery as opposed to a Scotch blend which is a product containing the Whisky from multiple distilleries. Historically produced using malted barley, and only malted barley for single malts, Scotch begins it’s journey being double distilled in large copper pot stills. Scotch, by law, must be aged for a minimum of three years in Oak barrels. These Oak barrels are primarily former Bourbon barrels (which by law in the US can only be used for Bourbon ageing once) or former Sherry casks. Only produced and aged in Scotland you will find this Whisky being distilled and aged in a few different regions, five of which are officially recognized.

The Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay (pronounced, “eye-la”) and Campbeltown make up Scotland’s main Scotch producing regions. Here at vomFASS Twin Cities inside the Mall of America we carry a healthy supply of world class single malt Scotches from almost every region (even the not so officially recognized parts. Cool!). Our selection includes, but is by no means limited to, a 17 year old offering from Auchentoshan in the Lowlands. This is one of the outlying triple distilled scotches. The dram is smooth, warm and delightfully complex. From the Highlands we offer a bold but refined 20 year old Glengoyne. Appropriately, Speyside takes up the most real estate here at vomFASS MOA as it is home to the highest density of distilleries in Scotland. A personal favorite of mine is the dark and mysterious 19 year old Inchgower. I love to pour this for guests looking for a Speyside Scotch that thinks a little outside of the Speyside box. Bunnahabain 26 is our one and only single malt offering from Islay. Next to it’s other Islay brethren, Bunnahabain 26 does not cloud the drinker in a plume of peat smoke. Rather, this unpeated offering showcases notes of the ocean that surrounds the Islay region while caramel and soft vanilla permeate the drinking experience. Should you wish to get to know these beauties better than I can describe them, we not only offer in store samples but we regularly hold Scotch classes as well as wine tastings and Mediterranean cooking classes too!

Aside from being a geographically specific spirit (similar to Champagne, Cognac or Tennessee Whiskey) Scotch is produced under strict regulations established long ago that are still practiced today. True, practices have changed and expanded since the first Scot discovered how to make Uisge Beatha, or The Water of Life, such as the incorporation of Wheat and Rye grains and triple distillation practices at a few distilleries. But at its core, Scotch remains a liquid tip of the hat to the wonder of tradition and the inexorable push of alcohol based ingenuity. All the while instilling in it’s drinker a true sense of place. Cheers!

Check back next week as we continue our journey down the winding Whisk(e)y road to Ireland.

Will O’Reilly studies all things alcohol. You can find him at vomFASS inside the Mall of America.

Signature Experiences at vomFASS in Mall of America®

Signature Experiences for Private Corporate, Tour and Social Groups

We enjoy working with event planners and corporate contacts to develop extraordinary, vomfass15-2495.JPGprivate group experiences! Choose from the options below, or contact me to discuss a customized version. Our products are terrific for gifting, too, so let’s chat about swag bag options, top producer awards, employee and client gifts and more. Review our Booking Agreement. Contact us at reservations@vomFASSTwinCities.com or 952-426-3222 for more information or to schedule your private event at vomFASS in Mall of America, Level 3, North (N345), Bloomington, MN. Read this review of our Signature Experience on the yTravelBlog.

The Art of Delicious Dining – Mediterranean Style

Group size: 15 – 20          Starting at: $35/person
Duration: 90 minutes

Description: Presentation and three-course tasting meal with light interaction involving guests. Presentation by Tamra Kramer, local owner of vomFASS, including overview of Mediterranean lifestyle, health benefits of oils and vinegars, how to use them, highlights of her entrepreneurial journey and insights into a family-owned international gourmet business.

Upgrade options: 5 Courses or Upscale Menu: +$10 – $20/person
Wine: +$10 – $20 / person          Spirits: +$10 – $20 / person

The Art of Delicious Dining – Small Plate Cooking Class

Group size: 3 to 12         Cost: $50/person; minimum fee $400
Duration: 90 minutes

Description: small plates tasting meal with significant cooking interaction involving guests.

Upgrade options: buy wine, liqueurs or spirits to add to your class for your group at retail from vomFASS; buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests.

DIY Vinaigrettes and Salads

Group size: 3 to 12       Cost: $25/person; minimum fee $100
Duration: 45 – 60 min.

Description: Enjoy learning how to make your own delicious and nutritious vinaigrettes and salads, and get a mini intro to the Mediterranean way of healthy eating.

Upgrade options: buy wine, liqueurs or spirits to add to your class for your group at retail from vomFASS; buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests.

Wine Appreciation Experience

Group size: 6 – 20       Starting at: $32/person; minimum fee $400
Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours

Upgrade options: Premium wine selection +$10/person; buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests to take home.

Description: Taste and learn about a flight of wine paired with light bites.

Customer Feedback on a Signature Event: 

“Our group loved the dinner and everyone agreed it was the best meal we shared on our entire trip to Minneapolis.  The staff was wonderful, the presentation was interesting and the food was delicious!”

International Whiskey/Whisky Appreciation

Group size: 6 – 20              Cost: starting at $32/person
Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Upgrade options: Premium spirits selection +$10 – $15/person; buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests to take home.

Description: Taste and learn about a flight of five whiskey/whisky selections complemented by light bites.

Brandy Appreciation

Group size: 4 – 20                  Cost: $40-50/person
Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Upgrade options: Premium spirits selection +$10 – $15/person; buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests to take home.

Description: Taste and learn about a flight of five brandy selections complemented by light bites.

Absinthe Appreciation – Fact, Fiction and Flavor

Group size: 6 – 30                           Cost: $40/person
Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Upgrade options: buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests to take home

Description: Taste and learn about the colorful history of authentic French Absinthe, complemented with light bites.

Cocktail Mixology Class

Group size: 6 – 20                           Cost: $40-$50/person
Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Upgrade options: buy vomFASS product gifts for your guests to take home.

Description: Taste and learn about making a flight of cocktails, complemented by light bites.

vomFASS Public Class Schedule

Not enough people for a private event? Check out our public events on our Facebook events page and call to register for a scheduled class.

Week 1 Menu for Foodie Football Fans

It’s football season! Which means it’s party season. Regardless of whether you’re intently watching every play, or find the commercials more entertaining than first downs – we’re all big fans of football party food!

Week 1 image

Each week of the regular season, we will publish a suggested menu and recipes for entertaining the gang – whether you’ve got the game on or not! Our tip for the week: keep it simple so you can enjoy your guests – and the game – as much as they enjoy noshing on easy, delicious (psst – and healthy!) food featuring vomFASS olive oils, vinegars, spices, liqueurs, wines and spirits!

Argentina BBQ Toasted Almonds Serves 12almonds

Ingredients

3 T. vomFASS Argentina BBQ spice blend
2 T. vomFASS Pepone Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 C. raw almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the spice blend and olive oil in a medium bowl. Add almonds and toss to coat. Spread onto a sheet pan. Bake about 15 – 20 minutes or until almonds are toasted, stirring twice. Cool almonds completely before serving. Store in airtight container up to 5 days.

Ham & Cheese Pinwheels Serves 16 (two each)

IngredientsIMG_4990

½ lb. deli ham
½ lb. Cheese of choice, thin sliced
4 large flour tortillas or sandwich wraps (gluten free, optional)
Veggies of choice, sliced very thin
1/3 C. mayonnaise
2 T. vomFASS Walla Walla Onion Mustard
1 or more jars vomFASS Chutney: Mango, Raspberry, Fig

Directions

Mix mayo and mustard. Spread a thin layer onto a tortilla, all the way to edges.  Work on just one tortilla at a time, keeping the others in original packaging or a plastic zipper bag. Place ham, cheese and veggies onto tortilla, leaving about an inch of tortilla uncovered on the side that will be the outside edge. The mayo/mustard mixture will help keep the edge sealed. Roll up the tortilla. Cut into about 8 one inch pinwheels. Keep finished pinwheels covered in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Place an appetizer knife or small spoon into each chutney jar, or transfer contents to a condiment sized serving bowl for guests to use as garnish for their pinwheels. Enjoy!

Veggie / Chip Dip

Ingredients

1 C. plain Greek yogurt or sour creamveggie tray vomFASS Mall of America Minnesota Food
3 T. vomFASS Fried Potato Spice
2 t. vomFASS Spanish Red Wine Vinegar

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve with your favorite veggies or chips. May be made a day or two in advance.

Balsamic Grilled Peaches on a Stick Serves 8

Ingredients

2 peaches, halved and pitted
¼ C. vomFASS Pepone Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ C. vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Maletti
½ C. plain Greek yogurt
1 dropper liquid Stevia with vanilla
¼ C. Pistachios, crushed
8 six-inch skewers (if using wood skewers, soak in water for 15 minutes)

Directions

Pre-heat grill or oven to 450 degrees. Wash and dry peaches. Cut them into quarters and dispose of pits. Spear each peach quarter onto a skewer. Place on baking pan with edges, brush with olive oil. Grill or roast for 4 – 5 minutes, turning half way through. Brush or drizzle with Maletti. Grill or broil another 3 – 4 minutes. In the meantime, stir Stevia into yogurt. Remove peaches from heat and place on serving dishes or tray. Add a dollop of yogurt to each peach, garnish with pistachios. May be grilled ahead of time and served chilled. Enjoy!

Apple Whiskey Sour Serves 1 / Serves about 16 Bourbon Apple Cider

Ingredients

1 ½ oz./ 750 ml vomFASS American Whiskey
1 T. / 1 C. vomFASS Apple Balsamic
2 oz./ 4 ¼ C. apple cider

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Fill with ice for a short shake. Pour into a rocks glass serve with a twist of apple peel. May be batched ahead of time and refrigerated for serving to a crowd on the rocks.

 

vomFASS at MOA is moving!

We are excited to announce that we are relocating vomFASS oils, vinegars, spices, liqueurs,

IMG_8560

wines and spirits shops to Culinary on North, the up-and-coming destination for discerning foodies and epicures at Mall of America. Our new space will include a tasting room for culinary classes, spirits, wine and cocktail tastings, and private events for up to 15 people. Our October and November class schedule is already on our website; call vomFASS at (952) 426-3222 to register.

For larger, private events, we can expand into our store fronts or partner with select Mall of America venues to product unforgettable tasting experiences for groups up to 50. Call vomFASS for pricing and scheduling.

Thank you for finding us, as we two-step our way into our new space, along the following timeline:

Labor Day, Monday, Sept 5 – last day both shops will be open at E280.

Tuesday, Sept 6 – vomFASS Oils, Vinegars & Spices will open in a temporary location on Level 2, North (N284), near Nordstrom’s. Our liqueurs, wines and spirits shop will be closed during this time.

Saturday, Sept 17 – we expect to open both Oils, Vinegars & Spices and Liqueurs, Wines & Spirits shops in our new, permanent location at Level N345.

We thank you in advance for your understanding in the event of any unexpected changes to this timeline.

My team and I have had a fabulous time introducing local foodies and Twin Cities visitors to the vomFASS concept and products in our two-and-a-half years here at Mall of America. It’s going to be even more fun to have the space to expand the education and fun we have teaching people how to use oils, vinegars and spices to create easy, delicious and healthy meals at home. And who doesn’t enjoy tasting and learning about appreciating fine spirits? I look forward to welcoming you to our new location, where we will continue to be your culinary tour guide as you “try before you buy” the world’s finest products sourced directly from family growers, artisan producers and craft distillers.

Tamra Kramer
Owner, vomFASS at Mall of America