Le 1608 from Laiterie Charlevoix

Region: Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec
Milk: Cow
Texture: Semi-firm with washed rind

A semi-firm, washed rind cheese, Le 1608 uses milk from hardy Canadienne cattle, whose ancestors were brought to Canada from France between 1608 and 1670. Considered an endangered cow, the majority of these animals are now unique to the Charlevoix region in Quebec.

The Canadienne breed of cattle is the oldest in Canada. 1608 is the year that colonists began importing cattle from Normandy to New France. The inky-brown bovines eventually became the only breed developed in North America, hearty animals that adapted to Québec’s harsh climate and topography, and whose milk is rich in butter fat and protein. Bred to become a resilient herd of cattle, by the 1900s they had expanded to over 500,000 and became a distinctive breed that could not be duplicated anywhere else. Due to Canadian government policies in the 1850s and the modern dairy industry of the 20th century (which began to favour high volume producing cattle) the breed declined as a primary variety of milk producer. Today there are only about 500 Canadiennes left in North America.

Le 1608 comes in 8 kg wheels and is a typical cooked cheese. The cheese is cooked, pressed and interior ripened for a long period of time. Aged between three and six months, Le 1608 is semi-firm but still creamy, tasting of nuts and apples, butter and tang. It’s become wildly popular in Québec. Its interior is dark yellow, creamy and melts in your mouth. Its texture improves with age and its flavour develops without bitterness.

Le 1608 develops a pale orange exterior that is washed with brine while ripening. Developing a full, barny aroma, the paste tastes nutty at the rind and has a complex, fruity flavour that emerges from its melt-in-the mouth texture. The pleasant tang of the long finish clinches this cheese’s spot as a new Canadian favourite.