Produced near Schull, in County Cork, Ireland by Giana and Tom Ferguson, Gubbeen is a semisoft, washed rind cow's milk cheese.
Having spent some of her childhood in Spain where her family made goat's milk cheeses, Giana later found herself living in France and once again becoming inspired by small-scale cheese production.
After marrying into a farming family in Ireland, where some of the best milk in Europe is produced, Giana, with and her husband Tom started to experiment with their own cheeses and ultimately began to produce Gubbeen on a regular basis.
The West Cork Gulf Stream creates a warm and humid climate at Gubbeen, which is ideal for growing grass and making cheese. Giana's and Tom's farming methods strive to keep the land productive for grazing, and their herd of cows are kept outside on pasture for at least eight months of the year.
Milk is sourced from their own mixed breed herd, which consists of British Friesian, Simmental, Jersey and Shorthorn breeds, together with Ireland's only native breed, the Kerry Cow. Milk from a mixed herd, can prove a great asset to cheesemaking because of the balance of butterfat and proteins.
Giana and the Gubbeen dairy team have produced Gubbeen since 1979.
After production, wheels of Gubbeen are regularly washed with a solution of the natural Gubbeen flora which has been isolated and made up as a rind wash, together with white wine, salt and water. The wash stimulates the growth of the Bacterium Linens mold (the culture that gives the cheeses their sticky orange-pink rind and pungent aroma) and creates the unique Gubbeen rind . With age, Gubbeen also often develops patches of white candidum mold on the rind as well.
The interior paste is semi-soft, pliable and a golden, straw-like color, with small "eyes" (holes). It has pleasant aromas that are slightly musty, earthy and reminiscent of an old cellar.
Flavors are of mushrooms, butter, peat and nuts - all pleasantly in sync with one another and not as strong as the aroma would suggest.