A Cork-made cheese is officially *the* best cheese in the entire country

A Cork cheese, a glorious creation born and bred right here on Leeside, has been crowned the undisputed champion cheese of all of Ireland.

Made in Whitechurch, Hegarty’s Templegall Extra Mature raw cow’s milk cheese scooped the top award at the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards, taking home the coveted gong for overall ‘Supreme Champion’.

Named after the village where it is made – “An Teampall Geal” in Irish – Hegarty’s Templegall Extra Mature is a hard alpine style cheese, specially developed by farmer Dan Hegarty with the assistance of French cheesemakers, Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin and Quentin Duboz.

Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke Photography

Templegall Extra Mature is made using raw milk from Hegarty’s pedigree Friesian herd, producing an unpasteurised cheese in 40kg wheels that has to be brushed three times a week to maintain the rind of the cheese in peak form.

The cheese is then aged for a minimum of eighteen months to develop its deliciously complex flavour profile with fruity yet earthy tones, and hints of nuts and straw.

If you’re craving a slice already you can pick it up in On The Pig’s Back and at Sheridans Cheesemongers (they have a counter in Fancy Dunnes (Bishopstown).

Shout-out to the cows

“A special mention should go to the 150 cows we have back home who are in for milking at the moment as without them none of this success would be possible,” said Dan, accepting the award.

“What makes our Templegall Extra Mature cheese so special is that we only make it during the summer months, when the cows are grazing outside and at their happiest, with milk produced in the morning.

“Only a glass window separates the milking parlour from the cheesemaking room, so the morning milk goes straight from the milking parlour to the cheese vat, which is only maybe four metres away. There’s zero food miles attached to what we produce and we’re working with the freshest milk possible.”

A cheesy triumph for Cork 

This is the second ‘Supreme Champion’ win for cheesemaker Dan Hegarty, who previously took home the title at the CÁIS 2021 Irish Cheese Awards.

Nine Farmhouse Cheesemakers from across Cork were honoured, taking home a total of fourteen awards – the most of any county.

Other notable Cork-based award winners, which Newstalk’s Bobby Kerr announced, included Dick and Helene Willems of Coolea Farmhouse Cheese – part of the group of original founding members of CÁIS, Durrus Cheese (in the ‘Washed Rind Cheese – Semi Soft’ category) and Toons Bridge Dairy’s Smoked Scamorza (in the ‘Smoked Cheese’ category).

Main image: indiefude.com

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