Giana Ferguson first made cheese during her childhood in southern Spain, where her family made goat’s cheese on the family’s small farm in Alora, outside Malaga. She later spent time in France where she became familiar with some of the world’s great cheeses, before settling in West Cork where she and her husband Tom, have made Gubbeen since 1980. Since then Gubbeen has become one of the best known of all the Irish farmhouse cheeses. All the milk used comes from their mixed herd of Jersey, Friesian, Simmenthal and Kerry cows which graze on the Ferguson family farm outside Schull. Giana’s decision to switch back to traditional rennet in recent years has made a discernable improvement to the aging potential of what was already a great cheese.
Gubbeen is a semi-soft washed-rind cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk. The secret of Gubbeen’s flavor lies in the interaction of the cheese’s mushroom-scented rind and the semisoft, buttery body within. Giana describes her cheese as having ‘[a] taste and scent of mushrooms and forests, nuts and a real buttery milky taste especially when young. It is low in salt. The texture is buttery and soft.’ Try Gubbeen with ginger bread and darker beers.
Smoked Gubbeen is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese which is slowly smoked with oak and beech. A black wax is then added to protect the cheese as it ages. The flavor is buttery and mild with a very subtle touch of smokiness on the finish.