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Kevin Powell from Loose Canon cheese ahead of our taste test.
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Our cheesy taste test with Loose Canon

Tasting notes on some of our very favourite cheeses. Brought to you by the National Dairy Council.

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Cheese is one of our great loves, but sometimes it's hard to create a cheeseboard to cater to everyone's preferences. 

We whipped up the perfect cheeseboard earlier this month, but to make sure you're using the right cheese, we stopped by Loose Canon cheese store in Dublin for a taste test with Kevin Powell and Andy Hayden, as well as our own Jordan Mooney. Read on for their cheesy tasting notes. 

Gubbeen Cheese

This cheese, made by the Ferguson family in Cork, is one of Ireland's best-loved products. Made with pasteurised cow's milk, the guys at Loose Canon knew that this was Gubbeen from the first bite.

Tasting notes:

Great mushroomy, earthy notes from the wash rind. Aim to have some of the rind with every piece of cheese you have; the inside is obviously so nice, but the outside is nuanced, textural and you appreciate the whole thing better when you have it together. 

Pairing tips: 

The wash rind makes it a little saltier so pair cheese like this with something a little sweeter, like fruits or jams. Damson jam or jelly would be great. Drinks-wise, it would go very well with something effervescent. Cheese like this can almost block your palate, so something effervescent can help to clear it and you can appreciate the cheese with the wine. Soft cheeses work so well with bubbles as it keeps everything fresh while you enjoy something so earthy.

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Gubbeen love 燎❤️

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Cooleeney Cheese

This Camembert-style cheese is made in County Tipperary by the Maher family. Available both raw and pasteurised, Cooleeney is a real crowdpleaser. 

Tasting notes:

With this style of cheese, you should always eat the rind. The last part of the cheese to mature is the inside, so you need to eat the rind too. Its appearance can be unappealing but it’s so tasty.

This cheese has some very peppery, herby notes, but all that is found in the rind, which is why you need to eat it. The rind has started to collapse because the cheese wants to escape, but it’s very unctuous. The smell is very appealing and the flavour is very long-lasting.

Pairing tips:

Pair this cheese with a sweet or off-dry white wine. It is so herby that a sweeter wine will give it a delicate aroma and you’ll appreciate it a little bit more. Chutney-wise, look towards a red onion marmalade or a cucumber pickle, something with a deep flavour.

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#cheeseoftheday Cooleeney. A handmade soft cheese from Southern Ireland with a strong flavour that develops as it matures Ireland is renowned for its lush green fields and clean air, and in Tipperary, where the Maher farm is found, the pastures are rich and are surrounded by damp boggy land. It is the perfect environment to produce top quality milk needed to make fantastic cheeses, and Cooleeney is a great example of this where they produce the cheese on the farm with milk from their own pedigree Friesian herd. The fourth generation of the Maher family work the land and combine creativity and innovation with respect for traditional craft and simplicity to produce their renowned cheeses. #Cooleeney #IrishCheese #cheese #cheesemonger #paxtonandwhitfield

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Smoked Drumlin Cheese

Produced by the Corleggy cheese company, this cheese is made with raw cow's milk, smoked with beechwood and matured for a minimum of six weeks. As per Kevin's preferences, this the only smoked cheese stocked in Loose Canon! You'll be able to easily spot it thanks to its unusual shape: it has a hole in the middle, making it ring-shaped, to ensure that the cheese is evenly smoked.

Tasting notes:

This smoked cheese always tends to be young, so it has a yoghurt-like sourness to it. It’s so lightly smoked that it’s still very approachable and tasty. This is good for people who don’t normally eat cheese because the smoke makes it taste kind of meaty, which is usually broadly appealing. A cheese like this is light and easy, it helps to ease people into eating cheese. The smoke is sort of sweet thanks to the beechwood.

Pairing tips:

Fresh apple is amazing with this cheese. The smoked elements have a weird juxtaposition with drinks, but it actually goes well with South African red wines with a smoky feel to them or effervescent, light beers.

Creeny Sheep Cheese

Made with raw sheep's milk, this is another cheese from the legendary Corleggy company. Production is limited to only four months of the year, but the cheese can be matured for up to 12 months. 

Tasting notes:

This sheep's milk has a grainy texture that becomes a smooth paste in your mouth. It gives you brightness and sourness on your tongue, so it makes you salivate and want more. It has a really long flavour with a little bit of spice along the tongue. 

Pairing tips:

It’s great by itself, but in terms of pairings, it would go really well with something sweet like a chutney and a nice light red wine. In summer, this would go so well with a chilled red wine, but in winter, a spiced mulled red wine would go so well with it. Creeny should be the last cheese you eat if it’s on a cheeseboard because the flavour is so long-lasting that you won’t remember the taste of anything else.

Ballylisk Triple Rose Cream Cheese

This decadent cream cheese is made of pasteurised milk and cream from a small herd of cows based at the Ballylisk farm in County Armagh. It's available on a small-scale at the minute, but we expect to see cheese from this company to become much more prevalent over the next few years.

Tasting notes:

The best way to describe this is as cream cheese in a rind. At room temperature, it’s nearly like unctuous savoury ice cream. The rind breaks right down and you enjoy it with the rest of the cheese. It’s not a very strong cheese, but it’s so present on your palate.

Pairing tips:

Try this cheese baked as it’s great for dipping. It works really well drizzled with honey and thyme, then spread on herby crackers. Dry, fruity white wines work very well with this cheese, as does a light IPA.

Cashel Blue Cheese

This iconic Irish cheese first hit the market in 1984 and has been winning awards ever since. Made in Tipperary by the Grubb family, Cashel Blue was one of the first Irish cheeses to impress the international market. 

Tasting notes

There isn’t much there on the nose, which is helps it appeal to a broader audience. The blue in it is very light. It’s a really good, well-made cheese. It has a mild, mellow flavour that doesn’t linger too much – the aftertaste is a little bitter, from the blue penicillin, but the initial taste is very creamy.

Pairing tips:

A port or stout would go really well with this to clear off the bitterness. 

Cheese Your Way

This exciting event is a part of the Cheese Your Way campaign launched earlier this year by the National Dairy Council in partnership with the European Milk Forum. Cheese Your Way is an EU-funded multi-country campaign that aims to encourage people to cook with, eat and learn more about a diverse range of European cheeses.

NDC is passionate about quality dairy and promoting its nutritional benefits, so they were the perfect partner for our upcoming cheesy events. If you want to find out more about this EU campaign, called Cheese Your Way, click here.