Ballylisk Cheese

Ballylisk Cheese: A Luxurious Dairy Revelation

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Updated on March 20, 2024

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Like a virtuoso performing a symphony, Ballylisk Cheese has orchestrated a luxurious dairy revelation in the cheese world. Nestled in the lush greenery of Armagh, Ireland, this family-owned business has elevated a humble dairy product into a gourmet indulgence.

From their Triple Rose cheese’s creamy texture to their innovative whiskey pairings, they’ve struck a chord with cheese connoisseurs worldwide. But what exactly is the secret behind their artisanal mastery? And how has this commitment to quality molded their future?

Let’s embark on this flavorful journey together, exploring the artistry behind every morsel of Ballylisk Cheese.

Ballylisk Farm and Cheese Legacy

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLkwatBtOps&t=44s

Steeped in rich history, the Ballylisk Farm has been a family affair since its establishment in 1820, evolving over five generations from focusing on stock and animal breeding to pioneering in the luxurious triple cream cheese market. It’s a testament to their multi generational heritage, their commitment to sustainable farming practices, and their innovative spirit.

The pivot to cheese production was born out of necessity due to improved milk quality and the desire to add value to their produce. Mark Wright, the current director, bravely veered from his previous career to spearhead this transformation. His astute market analysis identified a gap for luxurious triple cream cheese, and thus, the Ballylisk’s new legacy began, marrying tradition with innovation, shaping the future while honoring the past.

High-Quality Milk Production

Ballylisk Cheese

Continuing the narrative, it’s crucial to underscore the meticulous attention dedicated to high-quality milk production at Ballylisk Farm, a process which significantly contributes to the remarkable taste and texture of their cheese.

Their philosophy centers on providing a peaceful environment for their cows, ensuring superior animal welfare. The cows are milked in a tranquil facility and fed a nutritionally balanced diet. This approach not only respects the cows’ well-being but also results in the production of premium milk.

The nutritional balance of the feed significantly impacts the quality of the milk and, in turn, the luxuriousness of Ballylisk cheese. Minimizing antibiotic use further emphasizes their dedication to quality and safety.

Thus, Ballylisk’s commitment to animal welfare and nutrition directly shapes their exceptional cheese.

Ballylisk Cheese Making Techniques

Ballylisk Cheese

Delving into the heart of their operation, Ballylisk employs a meticulous process to transform their high-quality milk into a luxurious triple cream cheese.

The milk, fresh from the farm, undergoes pasteurization at a precise 78 degrees for 15 seconds. The addition of French-sourced cheese cultures begins the fermentation process, with rennet later added to coagulate the cheese milk. Continuous stirring ensures a smooth consistency while cheese molds shape the curds.

The drained curds rest overnight in the molds, setting into the rich, creamy product Ballylisk is renowned for. Every step of the process, from the grassland management to the cheese molds, reflects an unwavering dedication to quality, resulting in a cheese that’s as luxurious as it’s delicious.

Maturation and Cheese Flavor Profile

Ballylisk Cheese

After the meticulous cheese-making process, the flavor development of Ballylisk’s Triple Rose cheese truly begins during its maturation. Aging techniques, including temperature control and periodic turning, contribute significantly to the taste evolution. As its creamy texture develops, the maturation process delicately balances the rich, buttery flavors with a subtle tang, creating a luxurious mouthfeel.

With each passing week, the cheese’s character deepens, showcasing the craftsmanship that defines Ballylisk’s cheese-making mastery. The white mold that envelops it plays a crucial role too, imparting a distinctive note. Thus, the Triple Rose cheese’s flavor profile is an artful symphony, a dance between aging techniques and maturation, each step crucial, each note essential.

This is the magic of Ballylisk, where every bite is a revelation in taste.

Whiskey Pairing With Ballylisk Cheese

Ballylisk Cheese

When it comes to enhancing the luxurious experience of Ballylisk’s Triple Rose cheese, a carefully crafted whiskey pairing takes center stage. This flavor exploration is a sensory experience, showcasing the artisan craftsmanship embodied in both the cheese and the whiskey.

The buttery richness of the Triple Rose cheese finds a delightful balance in the warmth of a smooth, well-aged whiskey. Its high fat content mingles with the whiskey’s robust character, opening up new dimensions of taste. The whiskey’s sweetness and mouthfeel provide a luxury indulgence, enhancing the cheese’s creamy texture.

This pairing isn’t just about taste, it’s about an experience – one that combines the best of Irish culinary traditions. Ballylisk’s pairing principles focus on harmoniously complementing and magnifying flavors, creating a truly lavish journey for the palate.

Future Collaborations and Innovations

Ballylisk Cheese

Building on the success of their whiskey pairing events, Ballylisk is looking towards the horizon for exciting new collaborations and innovations in the world of cheese. They’re pushing boundaries, exploring the promising realm of whiskey washed cheeses. This innovative process involves immersing cheeses in whiskey, allowing the flavors to infuse over time, resulting in an indulgent culinary delight.

Distillery partnerships are also on the cards. These collaborations won’t only yield unique cheese and whiskey pairings but also expand Ballylisk’s reach in the luxury food market. No doubt, the future seems bright and flavorful for Ballylisk. Their continuous commitment to innovation and excellence is set to bring more luxurious, cheese revelations to their discerning clientele.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Has the Shift From Animal Breeding to Cheese Production Impacted the Business Model of the Ballylisk Farm?

Ballylisk farm’s shift from animal breeding to cheese production has significantly transformed its business model. It’s opened up a new, lucrative dairy revenue stream, leveraging their high-quality milk production.

Has the Transition From Mark Wright’s Previous Career to Cheese Production Had Any Influence on the Farm’s Operational Strategies?

Mark Wright’s career shift’s certainly influenced Ballylisk’s operational strategies. He brought fresh perspectives, implementing innovations that elevated the farm’s cheese production. His analytical acumen, honed in his previous career, allowed him to identify a market gap for luxurious triple cream cheese.

Thus, Ballylisk’s operation evolved from traditional farming to creating a high-end dairy product. His career influences proved pivotal in this operational evolution, transforming Ballylisk into a key player in the luxury cheese market.

What Specific Measures Are Taken to Ensure the Welfare of the Cows in the Ballylisk Farm?

At Ballylisk farm, they prioritize cow comfort and nutrition optimization. They’re fed based on their milk production, ensuring a balanced diet for optimal health.

Their milking facility provides a stress-free environment, promoting overall wellbeing. Antibiotics are used minimally, and only when necessary for herd health.

They understand that happy, healthy cows produce the best quality milk, which in turn, makes their cheese exceptional.

How Does the Unique Climate and Environment of Ireland Contribute to the Quality and Flavor of the Ballylisk Cheese?

Ireland’s unique climate and environment greatly influence Ballylisk cheese’s distinct flavor.

The Irish terroir, rich in nutrients and lush grasslands, feeds the cows, impacting the quality of their milk.

The damp, cool climate encourages slow maturation, enhancing the cheese’s creamy, buttery notes.

Thus, Ireland’s natural landscape plays a crucial role in Ballylisk flavor development, giving it its luxuriously rich and indulgent taste.

Are There Any Plans to Expand the Range of Ballylisk Cheese Products or Introduce New Types of Cheese in the Future?

Yes, Ballylisk Cheese’s got plans to widen their product range and introduce new cheeses. They’re exploring cheese packaging innovations to maintain quality while reaching international markets.

They’re also considering whiskey-washed cheeses and unique pairings with distilleries. So, customers can expect more luxurious dairy revelations from Ballylisk in the future.

Conclusion

Ballylisk Cheese, with its longstanding legacy in Armagh, Ireland, continues to revolutionize the dairy world. Their superior milk production, unique cheese-making techniques, and innovative whiskey pairings have carved a niche for this luxury cheese.

Always pushing boundaries, Ballylisk’s commitment to quality and innovation hints at exciting future collaborations. Truly, Ballylisk Cheese is a creamy, indulgent delight that elevates the Irish dairy industry to new heights.

Video Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:00)
Part of our plan was we felt the opportunity was right at the top of the market for us. We’re making a lot of really good food here, which stands toe to toe with producers right across the world. It’s obviously challenging, very, very competitive, but everything you do has to be of a certain standard. My name is Mark Wright, and I’m one of the directors here at Ballylist Dairies in Portadown. We’re a small I’m a company who make a range of award-winning artisan cow’s milk cheeses. I first land out at the farm at Bracket Road, just at Ballylist, there. Came into family ownership in 1820. And the farm has essentially grown since then. I think our family, bear in mind, I’m not actually a farmer, but I’m very pleased to say I grew up and I had a really happy childhood and early adult life on the farm. The farm has evolved over essentially the last five generations from 1820. My grandfather, I’m a father, I’m a late brother. We’re all very interested in stock and animals. They were, I would say, accomplished stockmen, and that carries on through my father to this day. Myself and my siblings would be the fifth generation to have grown up on the farm.

Speaker 1 (01:29)
My youngest brother, Dean, our late brother, Dean, had a background in the beef industry. He’d been to Agricultural College, and then he came back to the farm. If we look at how we got to actually decide that we wanted to do or add some value to essentially our raw material, which was the milk. It’s very important to look back over a number of years as to what he was doing before that. So there were a lot of things. He had a real interest in breeding programmes and genetics and his herd of cows over a period of years, and I would say probably 6-8, 9 years. He had a breeding programme where he bred his cows, not only to be exceptionally high-yielding animals, but also the quality of the milk that where we’re producing was of the highest quality. But along with that, there are a lot of other things have to go in parallel. Grassland management, they need a real interest there as well, and grassland management, so the actual type of grass, when he was actually the harvest in the grass. We’re very lucky where the family farm is. There’s a particularly good land in this part of the world.

Speaker 1 (02:37)
You’ve obviously a lot of the orchids and fruit growers in the wider local area. But where we are, lovely soil. The fields are quite flat and they drain really well. With regard to the actual grasslands, you’re able to grow really good grass. When the cows animals are out grazing. They’re eating really top quality. Essentially, what you put into these animals is what you get out. Dean looked at what he was doing, and he’s producing this absolutely incredible raw material, high-quality milk. But you’re essentially getting… It’s going into a bulk milk pool, and you’re essentially getting the same price as everybody else. You may get a small bonus or whatever for the quality and the sale counts and the butter fat content. It et cetera. But you’re getting pretty much the same thing, but yet you’re doing all these things to make it the best you can. So you eventually one day asked yourself, Well, can I do something else to add a bit of extra value to this? And then whenever you start to look at milk, well, you have a number of choices. Yoghurt, ice cream. There were other farms doing stuff like that and doing it really well.

Speaker 1 (03:54)
And then you’re on to, What have you left? Well, cheese production. I’m here on the family farm right outside our milking facility. This is where it all starts. This is where the amazing milk comes from that makes the cheese that Ballylisk produced. Right where I’m standing is where the very first piece of land came into family ownership. I believe believe it or not, that was back in 1820. So what we’re going to do now is we’re going to head on in and actually see the cows being milked. We bring the milk in essentially on the day that the cows are milked to make our cheese, so it can’t really get any fresher. We’re going to head on now into the milking parlour. What you’ll see is the actual milking process taking place. Then we’ll actually look at them after they’ve been milked. I want to talk a wee bit about some the techniques that are going on here at the farm. So here we are. This is where it actually happens. This is right inside the milking facility. This is the actual milking parlour, and this is done in a herringbone style. There’s 16 cows on each side, and you can see them all really relaxed, happy.

Speaker 1 (05:23)
What they get is when the cows come in, they get fed a ration, and that’s based on the the amount of milk that they produce. So if you follow me on down here, you can actually see them being milk. You can see the guys working away here and just how it’s organised and the flow of everything. So what happens is the cows come in and you can see these cows here, the actual apparatus is milk in the cows. The milk’s coming into these jars and then it goes into the the bulk tank. These cows here on the left, they’ve just been milk and you’ll see another 16 coming in. They’ll get their ration and then once this line is finished, the guys will switch the apparatus over to this side, and that’s how it works, 16 to 10. And eventually, over the course of probably an hour and a half, they get milked. So this is us in the actual shed that the cows stay in at this time of the year. We’re still obviously in the winter period here. These cows, I know they look black and white. These are Holstein Friesians as opposed to British Friesians.

Speaker 1 (06:39)
That’s the actual breed of these cows. One of the other things here, I’m not sure if you picked it up, it’s actually really, really quiet and peaceful in here at the minute. That’s also a really good indicator as to how relaxed and happy the animals are and uncomfortable in this environment. If they were hungry angry, agitated, uncomfortable, you’d really know about. You’d hear them roaring, making a lot of noise, stomping about. They would look agitated. These animals just look really happy and peaceful. You can see here just how tame and inquisitive these animals are. They’re really lovely. If you take it back to when the calves were born, they’ve essentially been hand-reared, and that’s why they’re so docile around people. One of the other things, when you look at actually food safety, and it’s a really important part of how we go about things, the herd health piece can’t be overstated. The use of antibiotics, we try to minimise that as much as we can. The welfare of the animals, this facility, their comfort, that all adds into that health and ultimately food safety piece. This is a really high-quality silage, and essentially with the cows, what you get out is what you put in.

Speaker 1 (08:02)
So it’s really important. Diet, their health is not just one thing. There are a number of different components. And say the nutritional side of things is really, really important. The quality of the feed they get directly impacts on the quality of the milk they produce. Part of the story as to why we started to make the cheese was the quality of this milk. So when the milk goes from the farm to the dairy company, the dairy company will provide data, and a lot of that data has to do with the actual makeup of the milk, the butter fat content, but also the bacterial counts in it. And this milk is exceptionally good. And if it’s not the cheese. The cheese just doesn’t do. So as I say, that literally is where it all starts, and that really is the building block. I, as I say, didn’t grow up in the farm. I had a very different professional career. But I had a wee interest in food. And then Dean and I were having conversations and started to look at this wee bit more seriously and decided after some time, various conversations, that this was something we wanted to perhaps look at in a more structured, formal way.

Speaker 1 (09:22)
What type of cheese are you going to make? Who are you going to sell it to? What is your market? What’s your route to market? How are you going to get it produced? And ultimately, what we wanted to do was something new, and we decided that there was a gap right at the top of the market for a really luxurious cheese. There was not one being produced in the United Kingdom, and it was for a triple cream cheese, and that would be a semi-soft cheese. So we started to have conversations with different people, people like, say, Johnny Moodle, some of the chefs, Simon, Simon Dugan, luckily, he had really taken to the project, thought what we were doing was fresh, and he was brilliant. So when we got samples made that we thought were of a certain standard, we brought them to these guys, and we’re bringing them all the time. They’re saying, Look, that’s not quite right, or a bit too salty, or a bit too dry, or whatever. But there came a point when they went, I think that’s it. The first cheese we made was called the Triple Rose, and that was our triple cream cheese.

Speaker 1 (10:26)
That’s what we brought to market first and launched And it launched Ballylisk, if you know what I mean. I would consider it our flagship cheese. It’s the one we sell most of, but it’s that triple cream was the first cheese we made. A lot of extra cream going into the milk. It’s really luxurious, decadent. I’ve been blown away, I find it. I feel very strongly about it. It’s very rewarding. There is an incredibly vibrant scene here on the support. We never wanted to come, never were going to, to come to the party and take it over. We just wanted to be part of the group. And that group will embrace you and they will support you. Here we are. This is the actual production room where we make the cheese. We’ve already, as you’ve seen, been out at the farm, we’ve seen the cows been milked. That milk was brought in this morning to the factory, and then it was pumped in here. If you follow me down, we’ll go down and see where it went and what’s happening to it now, and I’ll explain that. So when our milk comes in, this particular pipe here, the intake pipe, it’s connected at the minute to the washing loop.

Speaker 1 (11:56)
But essentially this pipe will be connected to the top of this bulk tank. Bulk tank is pre-refrigerated. Milk will be pumped in. You can see the load cells here and the display here. And what that tells us is essentially how much milk. Very important to know how much we have. So one kilo equals one litre. And we need to know how much we have because it forms an integral part of our process. What’s happening now is this machine is a continuous flow past the pasteurizer. You can see the outlet of the tank connected to this pipework which goes down into the pasteurizer. Milk is presently being pasteurised, and Sarah and Richard are well through the start of the daily cheese-making process. We pasteurise all our milk here at Ballylisk. What our process is, is a high temperature, short time, standard within the industry. We are bringing our milk up to 70 58 degrees for 15 seconds and then cool it down to 44 degrees before it goes out into the basins and the cold cream, which it will be mixed with. What pasteurisation does is by bringing the milk up to that temperature, A lot of the pathogens and bacteria that we want to destroy, that process does so.

Speaker 1 (13:22)
It means that people with the likes of health conditions, expectant mothers, people who are possibly their immune system is somewhat weakened. It’s a protection. It’s a food safety measure and primarily to combat listeria. So we’ve seen where the milk comes into, and we’ve seen what happens to it at the very start of the process, i. E. Pasteurisation. What Richard’s doing here is he’s filling our bassines, and these bassines are essentially these white tubs. This is a a French process, and each tub has a certain amount of milk in it, along with the cream. And you can see here the cheese cultures. I’ll speak about those in a wee second. But the milk from the past, the pasteurised milk, is coming out here, essentially about 44 degrees. It’s being mixed in with this cone cream and the cultures, and that is what is starting the process. That’s what I would call the cheese milk. The first bassin, the the entire batch of cheese from when the pasteurised milk started to go into the first bassine and the cultures, that starts the time process for this batch of cheese, and that process is over two days. Everything And once the clock starts, everything flows on from that.

Speaker 1 (14:49)
You can see now Richard has changed the outlet pipe from the pasteurizer here, and he’s now filling the bassin beside it. If you can imagine, the milk’s coming out continuously really from the pasteurizer. So when we have enough milk in this bassine, we move to this one. And when we have enough in this one, we move back to that one again. And that’s how we essentially fill those bassines. So just in the context of the cheese cultures, if you look at quite a small amount. So if we look at that small container, there’s only a couple of grammes there of these cultures. What these essentially are, are good bacteria. It’s these bacteria that react with the lactic sugars in the pasteurised milk and start to turn that into lactic acid, essentially acidifying the cheese milk. This process or how we put our cultures into the bassin and the cheese milk is called DVI, Direct Fat Inoculation. These cultures come from a specialised company in France. As I say, they’re freeze-dried. For all the world, look a wee bit like yeast. So this bassine, we have filled it with the requisite amount of pasteurised milk mixed in with the previously decanted cream and the starter cultures have been added, what Richard is doing now is essentially stirring the cheese milk.

Speaker 1 (16:24)
What he’s doing is, if you can imagine those cheese cultures or starter cultures, Just like yeast or white powder, we want to mix that as evenly throughout the bassin of cheese milk. What we find is those cultures are mixed through that bassin properly. The cheeses should warm better because all the milk has been evenly exposed to the cultures. We talked about the process being timed. One of the key things about anybody’s cheese making process is the absolute attention to the detail and the detail of your particular process. Once the clock starts, that’s it running essentially for 48 hours, and then beyond that, when the cheeses start to ripen. So there will be a production sheet, and in a very short time, That first bassine, the cultures will have been in it for 45 minutes. The next stage of the process will kick in, which will be the addition of the rennet. So what Richard is doing now is putting the rennet in to… This is bassine two. We started off the process five minutes ago here. The rennet went in, and it will continue at five minute intervals for each bassine. Essentially, what the rennet is, is a coagulant.

Speaker 1 (17:44)
The type of rennet that we use is a microbial rennet, traditionally made from the bacteria that were harvested from calves stomachs. That’s still used, it’s known as natural rennet. You can also get a vegetable rennet, which is derived from certain plants. We use microbial rennet, which is essentially fermented. This will kickstart the next stage of the change in the cheese milk. The cultures are working away, turning the lactic sugars into lactic acid, essentially acidifying the cheese milk. Now the rennet’s gone in, and that acidified cheese milk is going to be coagulated. That bassine won’t be stirred or touched for another hour. When we come back to it, we will find the cheese milk will have coagulated and essentially formed a moosh-like consistency, which has essentially occurred. Where we’re at now with our processes, the rennet has essentially done its job. I think we’re up to Bacene number 3 of 12 here, and a really good indicator of how we know the rennet has actually coagulated the milk. And form this curd as if we just gently place our outstretched palm onto the surface, touch the surface of the curd. It should just come away and leave a very nice handprint.

Speaker 1 (19:15)
If the curd hadn’t formed and if it was water, for example, that print would completely dissolve and the surface would restore itself. What Richard is now going to do, we have two, we call cheese knives, and he’s essentially going to cut the curd. The curd, two knives are used. First of all, he will do a vertical cut, and then he’ll do a horizontal cut. You can pick up the shape of that knife as exactly the same profile as the bassin. So he gently puts it in one side of the bassin and draws it across. And then he does the same with the other knife, which has the horizontal strings on it. And what we’re hoping to achieve here when these curves start to form up a bit is achieve almost the size of a dice, somewhere between one and two centimetres little cubes. So what’s going to happen to this now is after another, probably half an hour, we’ll use the paddle, the stirring paddle, and we’ll gently agitate and separate those curds. But already that curd, when it’s cut, is starting to expunge the way. And we’re well through our process here of getting to the stage of actually putting curds into the moulds, which will ultimately form the cheeses.

Speaker 1 (20:49)
Guys have done a really good job here. You can see them now actually filling the moulds with the curds and the way is draining off. If we look at If we look at these two, if we look here, that gives us a good idea of what the curds look like at this stage. I’m pretty happy with that. Just the look and feel of those curds. They’re nice enough size, hold themselves up well, and those will drain quite nicely. And all I’m doing now is flattening out the curds on this funnel down into the mould, because what I want to achieve in probably about 5 or 10 minutes, when this mould comes off and these drain a little more, when they start to drain right down into the mould, ultimately tomorrow morning, I want all these cheeses to be roughly the same size. One of the things we do try to do is not be rough with the curds. As I said, these are holding their shape nicely. If there’s any really fine curds or small curds, probably not looking for that. The curds maybe handle a wee bit too much, and the 10 not to drain as well.

Speaker 1 (22:05)
Those there, I know those are going to make good cheeses. One of the things that certainly I find really rewarding about this, and actually, when I look at these guys, Richard and Sarah, they have developed their own talents. I used to make all the cheese myself. I no longer do. And to be honest with you, I can’t do without them in this business. Their skills that they’ve picked up are incredible, but it’s so rewarding. What we’re doing here is we’re making these by hand. This is not processed food, and it’s not mass-produced. So when the The guy started filling these two moulds, the things that sit on top of the moulds, I would call funnels, and they’re used to capture, keeping the one place, the curgeon way. If you look at these two moulds and the funnels, the cheese now are nicely draining, and they’re draining down through the funnels. We need to use the funnels again on two of the other empty moulds. So I’m just going to take this one-off first. And what you’ll see is, I suppose, an embryonic cheese. The curds here are sitting in the shape of the mould. They’ll be slightly proud of the top of the mould, but in another 30 minutes or so, those will have drained on down into the mould.

Speaker 1 (23:30)
So just at this stage in our process, I think it’s really important to actually put in context what this cheese is all about. What the guys are making today is the triple rose, which is our triple cream cheese. This is essentially what we what we call our flagship cheese. It was the first cheese that we produced and launched in 2017. And to put that in context, each bassine here, we saw it being filled earlier with the pasteurised milk. The cream was already recanted into the bassin. These cheeses, if we take two of these moulds, contain 40 cheeses. And those 40 cheeses, what does it take to make them? Takes about 40 L of milk and an extra 10 L of cream. We’re not talking about 10 cups of cream here, 10 L of cream. And that, hopefully, will let you know what you’re eating here. It’s luxury. Luxury at its best. Well, look, everybody, that’s us essentially for today. Sarah and Richard are just finishing off filling the moulds, full of the curgeon way, letting them drain. What they’re actually doing now is probably down to the last couple of scenes there. And then over the course of probably an hour, an hour and a half, they will turn those moulds twice, and then they’ll finish their cleaning.

Speaker 1 (24:57)
The cheeses or the curds will then sit in those moulds overnight, probably until about half seven, eight o’clock tomorrow morning. And what will happen then is the moulds will be taken off, and what you’re going to see, fingers crossed, is newly formed little cheeses that are pretty much drained, lovely straight sides, and they’re maintaining their own shape. Well, good morning. Here we are again on day two. We’re back in the production facility in the actual production room. You can see the cheeses that Sarah and Richard made yesterday. It’s essentially 22 hours after the first milk, first pasteurised milk, and cultures went into the bassines yesterday. Sarah is just going to take the moulds off now, and we’ll see the actual cheeses. They now actually look like cheeses, and they will not fall apart. They started to really form. They’re well-drained. You can actually see, if you look closely, when we were filming yesterday, the actual curds were well above the top of the mould, they’re now just over a centimetre down. To be honest with you, really nicely made by the guys. They all look really evenly sized. Go ahead, sir. You just motor on.

Speaker 1 (26:29)
Now, here we go. And those look great. You can see the shape. I know to look at them and even to touch them here today, just the level of firmness, how they have actually the curds, have bonded. I’m looking for nice straight sides here. I just know to feel those changes. They’re absolutely what we’re looking for. Sarah will continue We’ve taken the moulds off all the cheeses the guys made yesterday. These cheeses now, this is essentially the first time that they’ve seen day light out of their moulds. We leave them for an hour before we go on to the next stage of the process, and it just allows them to solidify or firm up a little more because the next stage is dry salting. It means that when Sarah is dry-salting them, they have firmed up a little bit more, and then they won’t be falling apart when she’s handled them in the salting process. The salt stays on for a period of time, and then it is literally washed off with water, and the cheese is then going to go on to the rippening racks, and they go into the rippening room. And that’s them essentially for three weeks.

Speaker 1 (27:49)
They will be turned a couple of times in the interim, but that will be the next stage for them. So now we’re in what we would call our ripening room. And if you look, I’m standing beside a batch of cheeses here. These are the old… There’s three batches here in the room at the minute. These are the oldest batch, and they’re just coming up on their packing date. These two stacks of cheese here were made on the third of March, and they’re due to pack off there on the 24th of March. It was just three weeks after they were made. This particular batch here made on the eighth of March, and And then this batch, just to my right-hand side here, you can see a visible difference in colour. These cheeses that are coming near packing date look white, almost as if they’re covered in cotton wool. And that’s exactly what we want to see. What that is, is a white mould. And how that mould appears is it’s mixed in with starter cultures, put into the cheese milk right at the start of the process. And then that starts to grow in this environment.

Speaker 1 (29:16)
And what we have in here, we have fans and we have a humidifier over in the corner. So neither of those two machines work independently. They work together. And what we’re trying to What we achieve is the optimum environment for mould growth. And what that is, our humidity set point, 96 %. Humidity in here at the minute is probably about 97, 98 %. On temperature-wise, we want it run about 13.5, 13.6 degrees. That’s what we have found to be our optimum rapening environment. As I say, this is what I want to see, a nice, even white mould growth. What will happen to this mould is when it’s packed off, that nice cotton woolly look actually gets compressed. When it’s in the paper and chilled, that becomes the white skin, which is synonymous with cheeses like this, Cree’s and camembert. Camembert’s widely recognisable semi-soft cheeses. If we look over here at the youngest batch, which was only made five days ago, and if we just look closely, I’m really, really pleased to say you and you see just a wee white shadow starting to appear on some of the cheeses. Very heartened by that. That’s what I would consider to be very positive mould growth.

Speaker 1 (30:45)
So here we are, almost at the end of the process. We’ve seen the farm, cow’s been milk coming in. The actual making process day one, day two. We’re now on, and what Andrena is doing here is these cheeses are now properly ripened. You will note the massive difference from the cheeses from when they went into the ripening room to where they are now. Essentially, we’re talking here just over three weeks. It takes for this lovely white mould to grow on top of the cheeses. They come out of that ripening room, they’re now packed. These papers papers that we use, you can see here, the paper is to play, and it’s virtually not visible to the naked eye, but these papers are perforated, essentially like a grease-proof liner on the inside, and a a plastic outer. You’ll see in a wee second, Andrina packing, a wee bit like the Generation game, she’s going to try quick now. We could make others do it, but you wouldn’t. It’s a real muscle memory skill. So just as we’re saying, Andrina is packing off these small triple creams. They’re just over 130 grammes. The label says 130, but the cheeses will always be slightly over it.

Speaker 1 (32:08)
They’re handmade, and you can see her nicely folding the paper around. These papers, 200 by 200 centimetres, nicely fold the paper around, place on the back label, and she has them sitting then to put the front labels on. So one of the most rewarding things about this process, and it has always really tickled me, is when you consider all Almost this time yesterday, this was milk, and now look at these lovely cheeses. I think it’s a really special thing. So here we are, Laura. We’ve been downstairs and we’ve had a wee look around. Actually, these are probably two the original cheese, which you certainly know this one very well. That’s the triple rose, the triple cream. I’ve popped out this smoked triple cream as well. I know you’ve brought some drinks down with you here. I’m really going to be led by you because I’ve done a couple of tastings. I’m not creative, but I’m really interested as to what you’ve chosen to go with the cheeses and actually how they’re going to work together.

Speaker 2 (33:30)
Yeah, definitely. I love a bit of pairings. It’s a really good way to bring out great things about both items. I’ve bought some really great local drinks here, but I think it’s important to taste the cheese by itself first, to get a real good flavour of it, and a chat about what people can expect if maybe they’re, why would they love this? Why do they have to come and buy this cheese?

Speaker 1 (33:49)
That’s obviously the triple rose, the triple cream. When we had that idea and felt there was a wee opportunity for it, what we tried to achieve, and really what this cheese is about, I say, is unashamed luxury. A lot of extra cream goes into the milk when we’re making this cheese, and you should find the paste really buttery and creamy lovely velvety mouthfeel, the white, round skin on it. People ask all the time, Should eat it? Should not? I said, Yes, unless it absolutely repulses you, I think you should eat it because it’s part of the overall context of the flavour the profile of the cheese. There’s a wee tiny bit of sharpness to it to offset the the richness of the cheese. But here, just pop away.

Speaker 2 (34:40)
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (34:43)
This cheese probably I think this is about six or seven weeks old. If we look at the… And there’s a fine line. There’s a fine line. The breakdown of the paste is almost through to the centre. Not quite, but the centre, although it’s not quite broken down right through. When I say breakdown, you see it lovely, the paste quite soft on one thing or the other. I think that’s just about right. When the cheeses are really young, you’ll see more of this a lighter colour and more of the paste a wee bit stronger, almost chalky, and it tastes wee tiny bit chalky. But some people like that. When they’re young, obviously, there’s more of the skin. The white, round skin is still pretty good I’ve never seen that, but when it comes up to the end of its approaching shelf life date, that will have dissipated slightly, but you get a really quite strong flavour. Again, chefs really like it. Chefs love them nearly. They keep them a couple of weeks after their date, they throw them in the back of the fridge.

Speaker 2 (35:46)
And get them nice and scruppy. It was beautiful. Every time I try it, I’m nearly surprised by the… It’s the mouthfeel feel with the body temperature because when you’re handling it, it feels quite firm. But then as soon as it gets to your body temperature on your palate, it just… Because of the high fat content, glorious fat in the cream, it just melts down and it’s just so indulgent.

Speaker 1 (36:18)
Indulgent is a really good word for it. Do you know what? And that’s kind. I think another thing, and I think it’s an education piece. You’ll completely, this is not really for you, but I suppose when I meet people, and maybe buy one for the first time. I always say one of the things that’s really important, and I think for really any cheese is, but especially this, the real characteristic is that buttery, indulgent, richness to it. Definitely let it breathe. Let it breathe and let it come up to room temperature. Don’t be afraid of it. An hour, I think. Leave it at room temperature for an hour. And really, then you will really I get what that cheese is about. It’s buttery and creamy and indulgent. I’m going to stick with that word now.

Speaker 2 (37:04)
Yeah, indulgent. It is indulgent. It feels like a treat, doesn’t it?

Speaker 1 (37:08)
It’s meant to be. Super rich. I think it’s a great word. We’re having fun here. It’s a great word because that’s exactly what that is. I say to people, I know it’s a wee bit glib, throw away a line and say, It’s a Saturday night cheese, not a Wednesday night cheese.

Speaker 2 (37:24)
I suppose on a Wednesday night, you might not be accompanying it with a whiskey, but on a Saturday, it feels like It’s not really too good. Well, I don’t know. Good reason. Wednesday would be a good reason too.

Speaker 1 (37:36)
It depends what you’ve on Thursday morning, I suppose.

Speaker 2 (37:38)
I know. Absolutely. We’ve started doing quite a bit of pairing of cheese with different spirits of whisky’s. Because obviously, there’s loads of people doing wine and cheese, which is undoubtedly superb. Wine and cheese are excellent. But obviously, as you know, we’re all about local. We want to support as many local people as possible and showcase how excellent all our local producers are. And we have between, whisky, gins, hot gins, beers, ciders. There’s so much great flavour in Ireland and the drinks. I think it’s really nice to start experimenting with some of the different grain spirits. And this one is really special. I hope you’re going to love it. It’s one of my favourites. So this is made on the Ard Peninsula by Ecclenville Distillery. This is Dunvill’s, which is a excellent historical brand, which they have taken on and are now custodians of. This one is their Pedro Jimenez caskaged. Oh my goodness. So it’s 12 years old. And the Pedro Jimenez is obviously that really, really beautiful sweet cherry. So that really comes from the whiskey. So I’ll pour us a wee taste.

Speaker 1 (38:47)
I’m really looking forward to this. And you know the really nice thing? If you’re saying the parents you’ve started doing. I’m not a… Absolutely not a whiskey connoisseur in any way, but I do know that this scene is really, thank you very much. Is really emerging in Northern Ireland. And what an excellent way, as you say, just to showcase other really good things that are going on around us.

Speaker 2 (39:12)
We’ve done a few events actually down at Ecclenville doing different pairings with their whisky’s, gins, and we have had the ballet list down with us quite a few times now. And people love it. They really do. They enjoy. It still feels a little bit different, a little bit notty to be having spirits and cheese.

Speaker 1 (39:28)
But it’s probably that thing. Traditionally, you always heard red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and chicken. I think actually really what you enjoy. Actually, I think it really does it. Obviously, I’ve got to know you guys quite well. I think actually, do you know what? It’s really fresh. Fresh ideas.

Speaker 2 (39:50)
I’m not surprised you’re doing it. All the pairings are slightly subjective as well. Everybody likes different things, so it is, of course, it is a lot about what you like, but also trying to pair up some of the flavours. So the general rules of a pairing are you either want to complement the flavours in something and enhance them, or to have slightly different flavours to refresh the flavours in each thing. With the Ballylisk, it really, really coats your mouth in a beautiful way. That’s a similar thing that you get from the whiskey. And with the sweetness of this whiskey, the rich dark, dark citrus fruit, slightly Christmas-y. This is the ultimate Christmas pairing for me because it’s absolutely beautiful. And yeah, can I get stuck in? See what you think.

Speaker 1 (41:06)
That’s absolutely stunning.

Speaker 2 (41:08)
It’s lovely, isn’t it?

Speaker 1 (41:09)
Absolutely stunning.

Speaker 2 (41:11)
I think I could drink that on a Wednesday as well as a Saturday. Nice wedge of cheese.

Speaker 1 (41:15)
Yeah, that is. I love the sweetness of it. I totally agree with you, what you’re saying. You’re saying about the mouth feel and the mouth coating the mouth.

Speaker 2 (41:30)
For me, it’s such a good pairing because it elevates them both. And that’s the beauty of the perfect pairing.

Speaker 1 (41:38)
Do you know what? I’ve only done a couple of pairings, and I think that’s probably the word of the day or the word for this here, elevate them both, or the phrase, because I was trying to… The pairings, they’ve all been very good, the parents have done, and I was trying to work out why it actually changed I obviously know what this tastes like and why it changed, and it’s actually elevated slightly, I think. I totally agree with you about the Christmas thing. I’m going to widen that out to special occasion or just a wee indulgence. That’s absolutely You know what? It actually feels decadent. It feels… Yeah, decant is perfect. It feels less is more here. I don’t need the cold bottle. This is actually…

Speaker 2 (42:23)
I think because they’re both…

Speaker 1 (42:24)
I see, savour this.

Speaker 2 (42:25)
Yeah, they’re both incredible artisan products created by People with a real skill and talent and time, and you pair them together. It is two luxury products. They are two special products. Then to have them together just brings the whole experience up and notch. I have done this one before, so I knew it was a good pair, but I’m delighted. It’s always good when the actual one of the people behind one of them gets to try it and thinks.

Speaker 1 (42:54)
That’s a beautiful product, I have to say. I’m not a whiskey drinker per se, but I don’t know how much that bottle of whiskey costs, but I imagine it’s not cheap. That’s very special, actually. It’s beautiful.

Speaker 2 (43:09)
I’m glad you enjoy it. We’ll get you down to the distillery one day.

Speaker 1 (43:12)
Do you know what? It would be a thrill and I think there’s probably an exciting piece of work in that. It’s this… I said to- Can you imagine a whiskey washed cheese, a whiskey washed ballylisk with this particular whiskey? Yes, I can. It was one of the things I think we’d probably talked about downstairs. I’ve already dipped my toe in the water with it, but the idea really, I think it was about finding the right partner, and that story really needed to be fleshed out and actually pushed on.

Speaker 2 (43:48)
I think it was an experiment, and a small batch experiment even for me to eat all of. That would be great. Absolutely..

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