UPDATE: Irish cheese producers won several top awards at this week’s 116th annual Nantwich International Cheese Show in Cheshire.

The international show bills itself as the largest cheese awards in the world, with 4,286 competitors from 27 countries, and Claxstone Smooth Blue from Leicestershire was the supreme champion cheese. In total Ireland scooped more than 14 prestigious awards, a top achievement.

Among the top accolades went to Listowel-based Beal Organic Cheese, which was “very highly commended” in the hard pressed cheese class.

Speaking to AgriLand this moring, Beal owner Kate Carmody said she was honoured. “We are delighted. We have been making cheese for 25 years. I know good cheese and I love cheese. It is Ireland’s most natural product. It symbolises everything Ireland and rural Ireland should be. It’s about producing quality artisan for people to eat and to expand customers from the commodity market.”

Ironically Carmody is from Cheshire originally and it was the first time she entered Beal Organic Cheese into the international competition. “I totally believe and am passionate about what I do. I am an adopted Kerry woman. I have lived here since 1980 and I am originally from Cheshire, which is the home of good cheese, so it probably explains why I love cheese,” she quipped from her cottage in Listowel.

Also to win was Green Pastures Donegal, a dairy manufacturer based in Convoy, which received seven awards. It was awarded three gold awards including ‘Best Irish Cheese’ for its Yeats Country Full Fat Soft Cheese. The Donegal based dairy manufacture also achieved gold awards for its Yeats Country Full Fat Soft Cheese in the ‘Best Irish Cheese’ category, its Yeats Country Full Fat Organic Yoghurt in the ‘Yoghurt’ category and Yeats Country Créme Fraiche with Raspberry in the ‘Quarg’ category.

The company also scooped a silver accolade for its Yeats County Spreadable Goats’ Cheese in the ‘Specialists Cheese Maker’ category, and was awarded three very highly commended awards for its Yeats Country Goats Cheese with Tomato and Bell Pepper in the ‘Cheese with Additives ‘Savoury’’ category, its Yeats Country Full Fat Organic Soft Cheese in the ‘Organic Dairy Product’ category and its Yeats Country Spreadable Goats’ Cheese in the ‘Best New Dairy Product’ category.

Speaking after the awards, John Molloy, managing director, Green Pastures Donegal said:  “We at Green Pastures Donegal are proud and delighted to receive seven awards at the Nantwich International Cheese Awards. Our success at Nantwich highlights the quality and great taste of our cheese products. These seven awards are the rewards for our Natural by Nature family farm sustainability programme, and the quality of milk produced by our suppliers has contributed greatly to our products and the awards we have won.”

The other awards went to:

  • The Irish Dairy Board had a clean sweep of all three prizes in the non-UK mild cheddar block class — but had to be content with the second and third placings behind Carbery Group in the non-UK extra mature cheddar block class. But the Dairy Board also won a non-UK mild cheddar class.
  • The non-UK vintage cheddar block class was also an all-Irish affair, won by the Dairy Board ahead of Kerry Ingredients & Flavours and Glanbia Ingredients Ireland.
  • Old Irish Creamery in Co Limerick won the classes for processed cheese with additives and for non-UK cheese with sweet additives.
  • Carbery Group won the Kerrygold Trophy for the best Irish cheddar. The west Cork-based company also showed the best overseas cheddar creamery block.
  • The Irish Dairy Board won the DSM Trophy for the best single vintage cheddar.
  • The Little Milk Company, Cappagh, Dungarvan, also won gold, in the novice category for producers with less than two years experience.
  • Fivemiletown Creamery in Co Tyrone had the champion soft or cream cheese with rind, and the best smoked cheese.
  • Class winners included Dairygold Food Ingredients with a treble win — for cheese with health benefits; for sliced cheese; and for mild cheddar.
  • There were vegetarian cheese wins for Carbery Group; Kerry Ingredients and Flavours; and Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers.
  • The 1-2-3 in the Irish cheddar class was Carbery Group, Wexford Creamery, and Glanbia.
  • Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese won an overseas class.
  • The non-UK mature cheddar block class was an all-Ireland affair, won by Wexford Creamery ahead of the Irish Dairy Board (second and third) and Kerry Ingredients and Flavours.BQaJJ7HCYAADas_

An extra creamy gorgonzola produced in Italy by Arrigoni was the reserve supreme champion, and Belton Cheese from Shropshire won the highest number of gold awards.

Now in its 116th year the International Cheese Awards bring together around 600 cheese makers, from tiny artisan producers to big brands, to showcase and provide samples of their wares. The judging was conducted by a panel of industry experts, to ensure that the award winning cheeses are top notch. The two-day event attracted close to 40,000 visitors to sample the world’s best chesses and to view the award winners.

Image Shutterstock

This story was updated at 10.27am with a statement from Green Pastures Donegal