Stinky cheese is a cheese person’s cheese, stuff that’s not for the faint-hearted but full of character like no other style. Generally speaking, when we say ‘stinky cheese,’ what we’re really talking about is washed rind cheese. Legend has it that, centuries ago, a monk was aging cheese when he saw it growing some fuzz. Wanting to get rid of it, he dipped a spare rag in some spare beer and washed the fuzz off. When the fuzz reappeared, he did so again. This imparted flavor and funk to the cheese, and when he ate it he discovered he’d created a new thing.

If you think of some of the classic stinky cheeses—including Epoisses, Taleggio, Stinking Bishop, and U Pecorino—the thing that unites them is the presence of the bacterium Brevibacterium linens, affectionately shortened to the name “B. linens.” This is what gives a washed rind cheese is glorious pungency, the characteristic that sets it apart as the cheeselover’s cheese style.

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