A WEST CORK cheese from the aptly named Sheep’s Head peninsula has won the title of Best Irish Cheese at the British Cheese Awards.
The Durrus Óg cheese, from Jeffa Gill’s tiny West Cork dairy, took the award at the prestigious competition, held in Somerset before 800 cheese judges last week.
Jeffa described her success as a ‘a big win for a little cheese’ and it represents the latest accolade for the dairy which was named by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as the producer of one of the world’s 9 Best Cheeses in 2016.
The semi-soft Durrus Óg cheese, with its distinctive pink rind, is handmade by Jeffa and her close-knit team on her farm in the Coomkeen valley, just above Durrus village.
One of four cheeses made on the small farm, Durrus Óg draws its character from the whole cow’s milk produced on the rugged terrain, and from the peninsula’s clear salt air which shapes the cheese’s flavour as it ages.
‘We’re delighted to receive this award, and very proud to represent the many wonderful cheesemakers who have contributed to building a really strong artisan cheese culture in Ireland over the years,’ said Jeffa.
The award comes at a time when cheesemaking at Durrus is entering its second generation. Sarah Hennessy has recently returned to West Cork from Galway to work alongside her mother Jeffa and neighbour Ann McGrath.
‘It’s wonderful to have the work we’ve done over the years recognised by an award like this,’ pointed out Sarah. ‘This kind of recognition raises awareness of the cheeses we make here at Durrus, and offers us great encouragement as we plan for the future too.’