Irish cheeses win 14 gold medals at UK Artisan Cheese Awards

Coolea Extra Matured is best Irish cheese and reserve supreme champion

Irish cheesemakers won 14 gold awards, 12 silver and 24 bronze, at the Artisan Cheese Awards in England, with Coolea Extra Matured taking the reserve supreme champion award and being named best Irish cheese.

The supreme champion cheese at the competition, held in Melton Mowbray, was Edmond Tew, made by the Blackwoods Cheese Company in Kent.

Coolea Extra Matured is an aged Gouda made by Dicky Willems in West Cork. The cow's milk cheese was first made in 1979 by his parents, Helene and Dick Willems, who handed over the reins in 1999.

Coolea Extra Matured has been winning awards since 1983, and was supreme champion cheese at the British Cheese Awards in 2000 and Best Mature Gouda at the World Cheese awards in 2008.

There were 25 Irish cheesemakers represented at the awards, which are open to British and Irish cheesemakers producing less than300 tonnes a year, and between them they had 107 entries in contention.

Four of the 16 classes were won by Irish cheeses, including Coolea’s victory in the best hard cheese category, and in three of these the runner-up was also Irish.

In a strong showing by Irish goats' cheeses, Killeen Cheddar won its class, with Galway Goat Farm fresh goats' cheese in second place.

Galway Goat Farm then won the best new cheese class with its The Three Sisters cheese, bringing its tally for the show to three gold, one silver and two bronze. Toonsbridge equalled this medal tally with two silver and four bronzes for its Italian-style cheeses.

The best semi-soft cheese was Durrus Og, with Milleens as runner-up, and the runner-up in the best new cheese class was Ruby, a red ale-washed soft cheese made by Cooleeney Farm.

Dr Matthew O'Callaghan, organiser of the awards, said: "Irish cheesemakers really made their presence felt with the number of awards they won this year. The judges were delighted with the range and variety of cheeses that were entered from Ireland for judging."

Artisan Cheese Awards

Class winners: Soft (no additives) – Winslade (Hampshire Cheeses Ltd); Semi-soft – Durrus Og (Durrus Cheese Ltd); Hard –Coolea Extra Matured (Coolea Farmhouse Cheese Ltd); Blue – Bath Blue (Bath Soft Cheese); Cow's Milk – Edmund Tew (Blackwoods Cheese Company); Sheep's Milk – Berkswell (Ram Hall Dairy); Goat's Milk – Killeen Cheddar (Killeen Farmhouse Cheese); Vegetarian – Norfolk Mardler (Fielding Cottage); Raw Milk – St Jude (Whitewood Dairy); Organic – Bath Soft Cheese (Bath Soft Cheese); Farmhouse – Soft Mature (Grumpy Farmer); British Territorial Cheese – St Andrews Farmhouse (St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company); Protected Food Name Cheese – Extra Mature Keen's Cheddar (Keen's Cheddar Ltd); New Cheese – The Three Sisters (Galway Goat Farm); Washed Rind – Sheep Rustler (White Lake Cheese Ltd); Flavoured Cheese – Connage Gouda with Cumin (Connage Highland Dairy).