PORTLAND, ORE. – Jasper Hill Farm took home the first place Best of Show award at the American Cheese Society’s 2022 competition.
The top-rated cheese, called Whitney, is described by the Greensboro Bend, Vt., dairy farm and creamery as a Raclette-style raw milk cheese inspired by classic, mid-elevation mountain cheeses produced in Europe.
Per Jasper Hill, the cheesemaking steps include rinsing lactose-rich whey from curds in a vat, leading to the cheese’s smooth, semi-firm and meltable texture.
“I think that we're at an inflection point in our industry,” said Mateo Kehler, co-founder of Jasper Hill. “We've been through so much the past few years, and this for us is just epic. It is our opportunity to push the boundaries in our market to win new consumers.”
Jasper Hill’s Whitney earned the top honors among 1,387 entries in this year’s competition, which took place for the first time since 2019 – the show was called off each of the previous two years due to the pandemic.
Two cheeses tied for second place overall. Beecher's Handmade Cheese, based in Seattle, grabbed one of the Best of Show second place awards for its Flagsheep, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese. Allison Park, Pa.-based Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy also rated second overall at the competition with its Bamboozle, a washed rind goat and cow’s milk cheese.
The third place Best of Show award went to a collaboration between Jasper Hill and Murray’s Cheese, of Long Island City, NY. Greensward is a soft-ripened washed rind cheese that is sold exclusively at Murray’s.
Those top four winners accounted for just a handful of the 380 total awards given out at the ACS competition, which allotted gold, silver and bronze medals in 120 cheese categories.
Judging for the American-made cheese competition took place in May at the University of Minnesota’s Huntington Bank Stadium, where 30 judges scored the cheeses and cultured dairy products submitted by 196 companies.
ACS judging and competition chair Rachel Perez said organizers were thrilled to have the event back this year.
“(The event) is a unique competition that focuses on providing expert constructive feedback with the goal of giving cheesemakers the guidance to produce better cheese and elevate American cheese in the marketplace,” Perez said.
A complete list of the 380 awards bestowed this year can be found online at the ACS website.