Boyne Valley Blue is similar to English Stilton in texture – a brown rinded crumbly cheese with good veins of blue throughout. The cheese has come to the attention of several high profile names since production began.Read Our Review
‘Our goat’s cheese is selling faster than we can make it! So says Michael Finegan of Boyne Valley Blue Farmhouse Cheese. That’s his reflection of what’s been a whirlwind time since he started production of Ireland’s only raw milk blue cheese made from goat’s milk.
This third generation dairy farmer was brought up with his family on the farm in Slane. The fertile land was owned by his Grandfather and his father before him. Both were traditional dairy farmers with a large herd of cows and Michael looked set to follow in their footsteps. But prior to taking over the farm, his four year’s experience in New Zealand managing goat’s milk enterprises, brought about a turn around in his thinking. ‘In 2008 we were looking at massive investment to update the cow’s milk production, in order to have a viable business in the current market. At the same time, the local dairy who produce goat’s milk products was looking for farmers supplying goat’s milk. We took the decision to swap the cows for goats and to supply the dairy, and it’s been the best thing we did’, he says. Together with wife Jenny - a trained nurse who is no stranger to milking goats and running the farm – Michael has achieved a modern day success story. He gives full credit to Jenny, saying ‘ I couldn’t have done it without her.’ That’s what we like to hear – a successful man who appreciates the good woman behind him!
These days, the 300 strong Finegan mixed herd of Saanen, Alpine, Toggenburg and Anglo Nubian goats produce milk for the dairy, and to make Boyne Valley Blue cheese, introduced to the market in 2010. Local award winning cheese maker Peter Thomas of Bellingham Blue Cheese was brought on board for his extensive raw milk cheese making expertise. The Finegan Thomas partnership has been sealed with this already award winning cheese, the only one of it’s kind in Ireland. Michael is thrilled with the move – saying Peter is an amazing cheesemaker who has brought out the very best in his goat’s milk. Chefs and professional cooks think so too – the cheese has come to the attention of several high profile names since production began. It’s success can only continue, given the passion of the farmer and the skills of the cheese maker. Good news all round!
Boyne Valley Blue is similar to English Stilton in texture – a brown rinded crumbly cheese with good veins of blue throughout. The flavour is a marvellous balance struck between the character of the goat’s milk and the depth of taste from the mould running through the paste. Michael says his cheeses are ready at around 3 to 4 months old, when the flavour is developed and carries the piquancy of the goat’s milk. With ageing, this cheese becomes more crumbly and more powerful on the tongue – a giant of a cheese on the cheeseboard. Six months is an optimum age to enjoy it, according to Michael. Although some of his cheeses have been left to mature for as long as a year – these are serious blue cheeses for serious blue cheese lovers!