Cheese lovers nationwide were devastated when cheesemaker Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company decided to stop making his famous Rush Creek Reserve indefinitely. The spruce-wrapped, raw-milk cheese was the nearest we Americans had to the coveted French-style Mont d’Or and the thought of not having it on our holiday cheese boards was heartbreaking. When asked if he had anything else new in his cheese caves to make up for this terrible loss, Hatch’s stock answer has always been that he is experimenting with something new. After two years, the experiment seems to have paid off, even if it is in limited time. Presented in extremely limited quantities: Upland’s Experiment.
Back in October of October of 2012, Hatch and Bert Paris, formerly of Edelweiss Graziers Co-op now Pasteurland Cooperative of Bellville, Wisconsin, brought in some of Paris’s milk to Roelli Cheese Factory and set about making a Gouda-style cheese. It was just a test-drive for Paris’s milk and to see what it was capable of becoming. Since Upland’s Cheese Company does not have the capability to bring in outside milk, Chris Roelli opened his factory doors to the cheesemaker and farmer for their use. Fast-forward two years and the result is a dozen twenty-two pound wheels of a Gouda-style, unnamed cheese with a sweet, berries and cream-like flavor (Hatch’s impression at the time he tasted it several months back.)
The buttery color of the paste beneath the natural rind has just a few hints of white crystals on this semi-hard Gouda-style cheese. Breathe in and a sweet, tangy, fruity aromas takes hold of the olfactory senses and makes your mouth begin to water. Don’t be fooled by this seemingly innocent cheese, though. That sweet smell is hiding a powerful salty, nutty kick that grabs hold of the taste buds on the side of your tongue as the crystals burst within the creamy paste, flavor building in a sweet, spicy, earthy, harmony with each bite. This is an experiment gone very very right.
Here is the sad news, though. Upland’s Experiment is only available at Zingerman’s Deli and they, at the time of this writing and according to cheesemonger Jackson, have only a wheel & a half left in stock. Even more sad…once it is gone, there will be no more left, so I would suggest those who wish to try it head to Ann Arbor, Michigan and grab a wedge now or call and reserve some soon. It does sell quickly, so don’t wait. CJ from The Cheese Shop of Des Moines had seven or eight wheels in stock a while back and sold out within days without any publicity at all.
As for future experiments from Hatch, he has intimated that there may be something coming out for the 2016 season, so be sure to check back here for updates.