Époisses cheese is an unpasteurised cows milk cheese produced by Jacques Hennart in the village of Époisses in Burgundy France. This cheese is steeped in history having first been made by monks in the Abbaye de Citeaux, in Burgundy, France in the 1600’s. But far more renowned than the history of this cheese is its amazing pungent aroma!
Ranked fourth smelliest cheese in the world by a recent travel blogs article, Époisses has genuinely been banned from public transport vehicles across France, so beware this is not one for the faint hearted (nostrilled?).
Part of the reason for this distinctive nose is the traditional process of smear ripening the cheese and utilising milk coagulation. The cheese is initially washed in a salty, brine water, then left in a humid cellar. After a month the cheese is then repeatedly washed and rinsed with a mixture of water and a traditional French brandy, Marc de Bourgogne’s, two to three times a week for six weeks – until fully mature.
This process inhibits mould growth, allowing bacteria to grow which releases the distinctive aroma and flavour, as well as the soft reddy-orange colour of the thin rind which wrinkles with age.