When it comes to serious American cheese operations, Jasper Hill is at the top of the list. This Vermont maker has been producing award-winning original creations since 2003, when brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler sold their first artisanal cheese, eventually growing their business into the full-scale farm and cheese cellars that are now an institution of Greensboro, VT. But despite all their success, this iconic cheese powerhouse has added a little something new to their repertoire: a line of goat’s milk cheeses, created in collaboration with Bridgman Hill Farm.
“We had always imagined goats as part of the Jasper Hill Family, along with a whole new world of aromatic possibilities,” says founder Mateo Kehler. Enter Ryan Andrus and Annie Rowden, a husband and wife team with a background in goat farming, who relocated from California to Vermont, setting up their operation Bridgman Hill Farm just down the road from Jasper Hill. Annie and Ryan took on the herd from the local Oak Knoll Dairy, whose owners were retiring, and teamed up with Jasper Hill to create something completely new.
“Our partnership with Annie and Ryan meant that we had in-house expertise committed to the new venture and a bonus of mission fulfillment of a young family joining our working landscape to sustain an agricultural venture into the future. It was a win-win-win,” says Mateo.
After partnering with them and purchasing Oak Knoll Dairy as a whole to use as a milk production hub, this collaboration had all the tools needed to roll out a successful plan for churning out goat’s milk cheeses. The idea? To develop the recipes for three distinct cheeses at the same time–Eligo, Bridgman Blue, and Highlander–and bring them to market individually, debuting washed rind Eligo first, then their signature blue, followed by mountain-style Highlander, which is slated to be released at the six-month age mark. But creating a new line of cheeses simultaneously is no easy feat, and the Jasper Hill family credits the hard and quick work of every team involved, as well as the fortuitous timing of the collaboration as the key factors for success.
And successful it was–by using the release of these three cheeses as a litmus test for a new line of production, Jasper Hill, in collaboration with Bridgman Hill Farm, is ready to push forward into a whole new world of goat’s milk possibilities. “We’ve got the bug now and have been on the hunt for inspiration in Europe and beyond,” says Mateo. “There are so many goat and mixed milk cheeses that we’d love to have at hand–in our collection and, more importantly, in our home fridges!”
As for what’s in store in the future, there’s plenty to look forward to, from the continued development of their three original cheeses, as well as the possibility of some new sheep’s milk creations down the line, as Bridgman Hill Farm was originally designed to accommodate sheep. Stay tuned! For now, Murray’s is celebrating their success with the recent release of Bridgman Blue, which is a departure from Jasper Hill’s award-winning classic, Bayley Hazen Blue.
Describing the inspiration for Bridgman Blue, Mateo says, “We set out to create a blue cheese that could capitalize on our existing expertise and equipment (cylindrical, semi-firm, natural rinded) but with a deliberately more ‘French’ profile as opposed to our more British-inspired Bayley.” And while its sibling Bayley boasts a rich Stilton-like profile of licorice and dark chocolate, the new goat’s milk Bridgman Blue hits a more savory note, with flavors of zesty pepper, roasted nuts, and a sweet lactic tang with a bright, milky essence.
If the success of the two new cheeses Murray’s has taken on from this collaboration are any indication, this new chapter in Jasper Hill’s cheese making story is going to be one for the books, with plenty of new (and delicious) surprises along the way.
Want to know more about this one-of-a-kind milk partnership? We’ve got more details on the collaboration between Jasper Hill and Bridgman Hill Farm right here.