West Cork Natural Cheese
Producers of two thermophilic (Swiss-style) cheeses, using unpasteurised summer milk from small local herds, that graze on the surrounding pastures of wild grasses and heather. Their cheeses are called Desmond and Gabriel - the former a hard and piquant cheese with a pleasantly sharp aftertaste. It's ideal as a table cheese, or for cooking or fondues. The latter is an extra-hard cheese, with a flavour of hazelnuts and an aromatic aftertaste. The makers say it is a combination made exquisitely with Pinot Gris or Gewurzstraminer. Both are matured over many months - the youngest being released after 10 months; a premium being added as cheeses age further.
During the 1980's Joseph Dubach visited Ireland and assisted Bill and Sean Ferry to set up their first plant in Donegal. Sean Ferry started making cheese at seventeen years of age. In the summer of 1987, Bill and Sean were invited by Dubach to go to Central Switzerland to work and re-train with a second Swiss cheese master, Josef Enz. There on the high Alp above Giswil they learned the techniques and traditions of the thermophilic cheese making – a craft which can be traced directly back to the Bronze Age, over three thousand years ago. Indeed, in classical times the Romans prized these giant hard cheeses.
Although Dubach had mentioned to them that thermophilic cheese making had existed in Ireland from ancient times until the Great Famine of the 1840's, this fact did not register with them until that summer of 1987. Besides their work study programme in Giswil they visited traditional cheese plants in St.Gallen, Luzern and French Switzerland. Everywhere they visited, cheese makers and experts would comment that “ Ireland once had thermophilic cheese-making but the art had become lost”.
When Bill and Sean returned from Switzerland to Ireland , they decided to locate in West Cork because of the availability of high quality milk and vibrancy of the local food culture.
Today Bill and Sean produce ‘Desmond' and ‘Gabriel' cheese, mature hard cheeses which achieve extraordinary intensities of flavour. ‘Desmond' and ‘Gabriel' are made with unpasteurised summer's milk from local herds.
Bill and Sean carry on the principles of their Swiss teachers, - maintaining a strong commitment to quality, the environment and the consumer. They struggle obstinately trying to cope with the many obstacles which beset skilled and dedicated artisan producers in Ireland today.
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