World Cheese Gold for Dungiven’s Dart Mountain

Banagher Bold, a beer-washed cheese developed by Dart Mountain Cheese Company in Northern Ireland struck gold at the annual World Cheese Awards in San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country.

The semi-hard cheese has been created by husband and wife team Kevin and Julie Hickey at their purpose-built creamery near Dungiven, a small rural town in county Derry. The handmade cheese uses milk from grass-fed herds in the rugged Sperrin Mountains and is washed in beer from Northbound, a craft brewery based nearby in Derry city.
Named after the parish in which the creamery is located, the cheese is washed in Northbound’s number 26 craft beer and uses the local Gaelic football team’s colours, the cheese is made from cow’s milk, washed in a local Derry craft beer, No. 26, and then aged for at least three months.

Kevin Hickey, commenting on the coveted award, says: “We are delighted and tremendously proud to have won a gold award at the World Cheese Awards, the world’s most important event in the cheese calendar for our unique Banagher Bold. Winning this award is a marvellous boost for our small business and should be hugely important as we expand our marketing operations for our range of cheeses and the new varieties we will be launching soon including Ballydonegan, a new smoked cheese.

“Banagher Bold and other cheeses are deeply rooted in the area in which we are based and from which we draw our milk. We wanted to create a beer washed cheese to provide a different flavour, and using a local craft brewery, Northbound, made sense. The brewery uses fresh water from a river near to use.”

The cheese, winner of a UK Great Taste Award earlier in the year, was the only winner from Northern Ireland in the World Cheese Awards held in San Sebastian by the UK Guild of Fine Foods and an integral part of the International Cheese Festival.

Now in its 29th year, the World Cheese Awards witnessed a record number of over 3,000 cheeses from across the world being judges representing Australia, the Basque Country, France, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the USA and the UK.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the World Cheese Awards, commented; “What an incredible way to cap off another record-breaking year for the World Cheese Awards. We were certainly in the presence of greatness, as nearly three decades’ worth of World Champion Cheeses took the stage in front of our audience of food professionals, cheese-makers, journalists, buyers and retailers.
The World Cheese Awards drew entries from 31 different countries this year, from Australia to Italy and Mexico to Mozambique.

The final judging panel, made up of top names from the world of cheese, featuring cheese makers, buyers, retailers and writers, including Suzy O’Regan from Woolworths Foods in South Africa, Cathy Strange from Whole Foods in the USA, Roland Barthélemy, President of Guilde des Fromagers in France, and Mary Quicke from Quicke’s in the UK, then debated the top 16 cheeses in front of a trade and consumer audience.
Dart Mountain Cheese Company was established in 2012 as part of Tamnagh Foods, a small business which also produces award-winning granolas.