Where you can find the world’s best cheese

Whether you're craving Gouda, Swiss, or a creamy spread, your options are plenty.And true cheese aficionados know that to get the absolute top varieties, you need to think globally. Here are the nine cheeses you have to try, all the way from France, Spain, Italy...and yes, Vermont.

For something creamy and soft...

Jasper Hill's Harbison, Greensboro, Vermont

(Courtesy Murray's Cheese)

Jasper Hill has a cult following and a top notch reputation (it’s where many cheesemakers are trained.) Their Harbison, a best seller, is a cow’s cheese with a bloomy rind wrapped with spruce tree bark harvested on site and a forest-like flavor. It’s in a style of the Swiss holy grail of cheeses, Vacherin Mont d’Or, which is illegal in the U.S. due to it’s raw milk content. And like Vacherin, the best way to eat Jasper Hill’s Harbison is to carefully remove the top and scoop the cream directly out of the rind.

For something spicy and silky...

Rafael Baez's Monte Enebro, Avila, Spain

(Courtesy Murray's Cheese)

When it comes to Spanish cheeses, Manchego is what most people think of, but Rafael Baez, a world-renowned cheesemaker based in the Castilla y Leon town of Avila, has no use for conventions. He and his daughter Paloma create this exclusive, unusual, handmade goat cheese which regularly wins acclaim. Using the same mold that gives Roquefort it’s funk, they create an ashy gray rind that lends a peppery spiciness and gives off a pleasant back-of-the-throat tingle. It’s got a lot going on, including a delicate, silky texture so it’s best eaten alone or with a touch of honey. If you don't want to cross the Atlantic, it’s available in the U.S. through Murray’s Cheese.

For the ultimate blue...

Colston Bassett's Stilton, Nottinghamshire, England

(Courtesy Murray's Cheese)

This ultimate classic blue cheese is named for the village where it was first created, and can only be made in nearby counties. Colston Bassett’s version is sweeter and creamier than most but still strong and pungent enough to wake you up in the morning (or give you trippy dreams—which is what happens if you eat a quarter of a pound before you sleep, according to some scientists.) The dairy sells its wares wrapped in precious old school wax paper at its adjoining shop, and it is served at The Martin’s Arms, an ivy-covered cottage pub in Colston Bassett. You can also get in the U.S. from Murray's Cheese.

For something earthy and adventurous...

Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, Durrus, Ireland

(Durrus Cheese)

This family-run dairy began in 1979 with a few wheels of cheese made on their kitchen stove. Since then, Durrus Farmhouse Cheese has become a highly respected producer of washed rind Irish cheese—some experts place it as the best version. The temperate, humid climate of the western part of County Cork drives the flavor of moss and greenery into the cream and makes it lightly herbaceous. That’s especially true of their seasonal version made between April and October using raw milk. Durrus can be difficult to find in the U.S. but is readily available in the U.K. Of course, the best place to taste it is at the charming farm, where the family may no longer be using their stove, but their cheese-making process is still largely done by hand.

Can't get enough cheese? Find out more of the world's best cheesemakers.

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