GREENSBORO – The American Cheese Society (ACS) announced competition winners on July 22, at their annual conference in Portland, Ore., after a two-year hiatus. Jasper Hill accepted its fourth ACS Best of Show win, this time for their raw milk Whitney cheese, which was entered in the new Raclette-style category. The Jasper Hill team also shared in a Second Runner-up Best of Show placement for Greensward, a cider-washed, soft, bark-wrapped cheese made in collaboration with Murray’s Cheese.
“I think that we’re at an inflection point in our industry,” said Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm. “We’ve been through so much the past few years, and this for us [winning Best of Show] is just
epic. It is our opportunity to push the boundaries in our market to win new consumers. I would call you all to that effort. I think that when we win consumers for specialty cheese, whether it’s a Whitney, or any of the amazing cheeses that you produce, we all win and we can all win
Kehler also highlighted the place-based nature of this raw milk cheese, made from the farm’s own herd of grass-fed cows using natural cultures. The transformative power of artisan
cheese to reinvigorate rural landscapes is a model for what he calls an “agriculture supported community”, which is a re-framing of the Community Supported Agriculture concept.
Whitney, made in the raclette-style, is a semi-firm cheese with a washed rind, designed especially for melting. The winning batch, judged in late May, was made in early February.
The farm’s own milk was transformed within Jasper Hill’s newly renovated farmhouse creamery, which features two authentic copper-lined vats that had been used to make Comte in the Jura Mountain region of France. The creamery’s new equipment, which includes the ability to prepare natural culture inoculations, has allowed the Jasper Hill cheesemaking team to more rapidly develop a cheese that only first hit the broader specialty market in early 2021.
Whitney has a smooth, pliant texture with signature notes of toasted nuts, cured ham, and sweet cream. It pairs with natural white wines, cured meats, and pickled shallots.
Jasper Hill also earned Best in Class ribbons for their raw milk Alpine-style cheese, Alpha Tolman, and their iconic soft-ripened bark wrapped cheese, Harbison, the ACS’s 2018 Best of Show Winner. Sherry Gray, Eligo, Willoughby and Winnimere also placed top three in their respective classes.
Notably, all the Jasper Hill-made washed rind cheeses took home an award, representing five of the seven total medals for the company this year.
Other international cheese contests are back up and running post-pandemic. Jasper Hill picked up a Best in Class medal for Harbison (among others) at the World Championship Cheese Competition, A Double Gold (top three in show) for Willoughby (among others) and Creamery of the Year at the New York International Cheese Competition, Gold Medals for Sherry Gray and Harbison (among others) at the International Cheese Awards, and a Good Food Award for Highlander.