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  • Made from unpasteurized sheep's milk

  • Country of origin: Spain

  • Region: Basque Country

  • Type: hard, artisan

  • Texture: compact, oily and open

  • Rind: natural

  • Colour: pale yellow

  • Flavour: buttery, nutty, smokey

  • Aroma: aromatic, smokey, sweet

  • Vegetarian: no

  • Synonyms: Queso Idiazabal la Vasco Navarra, Idiazabalgo gazta

  • Alternative spellings: Idiazabel

Idiazabal (also known as Idiazabel / Queso Idiazabal La Vasco Navarra) is a traditional, farmhouse, hard cheese made from raw milk of Latxa or Carranza sheep in the Basque and Navarra regions of northern Spain. Named after the village of Idiazabal, the cheese received Spanish D.O. (Denominacion de Origen) in 1987.

In summer, the sheep migrate to higher pastures to graze on the blossoming, new grass. During this time, the artisanal cheese makers milk the sheep, make the cheese and leave it in the rafters to mature for a minimum of two months. Matured Idiazabal has a hard natural rind, a compact texture, with a few pinprick holes. The rind carries the marks of the wooden moulds in which it was drained. The characteristic, smoky flavour is the result of the cheeses having been stored near the fireplaces. The taste of the cheese is reminiscent of burnt caramel and bacon. The pairs well with red wine and cider.

PDO Idiazabal smoked cheese won a Super Gold medal at the 2014 World Cheese Awards. It is declared one of the world's 62 best cheeses. 

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