Twenty pounds of 28-year-old Cheddar – presumed to be the oldest commercial Cheddar ever verified and offered for sale in America — will hit the market on Oct. 6 at an official Block Cutting Party at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart in Milwaukee.
The 28-year-old Cheddar will be priced at $6 per ounce – yes, ounce – and will only be sold at the store’s Cheese Bar. Additional super-aged Cheddars, at 20-plus years old, will be offered for sale in one-half pound wedges at the Cheese Mart shop for $60 per pound.
Wisconsin Cheese Mart owner Ken McNulty says all of the aged Cheddars are in excellent shape, and feature substantial crystallization on the outside of each block. The cheeses are sourced from two different Wisconsin cheese factories. Each block features an exact date of production and letter of verification from the cheesemaker.
“We are extremely lucky to have found these blocks of Wisconsin Cheddar and look forward to sharing them with the public for the first time on October 6th,” McNulty said.
The 28-year-old Cheddar is crafted by Ed Zahn, long-time cheesemaker at County Line Cheese in Oconto. A back injury in 1989 forced him to retire from cheesemaking, so Zahn decided to run a retail cheese shop instead. This spring, Zahn decided to retire for good. While sorting through the store’s inventory, he found a big surprise: many blocks of cheddar that were more than 20 years old. Zahn had made this cheddar at County Line in between 1984 and 1988.
“During the process of transferring cheese from the factory into another walk-in cooler, some of the blocks were misplaced in the walk-in cooler,” Zahn said. In a letter that will be included with every purchase of the 28-year-old Cheddar, Zahn says: “I take pride in the cheese that I made at the County Line Cheese factory from 1960 to 1988. Despite the fact that County Line is now closed, you can still enjoy my superb cheddars.”
In addition to the 28-year-old Cheddar, Wisconsin Cheese Mart will also offer a series of 20-plus-old Cheddars, some also produced by Zahn, and others crafted by cheesemaker Wayne Hintz, owner of Springside Cheese in Oconto Falls since 1973. Well-known for its award-winning Bandaged Cheddar and White Cheddar, Springside Cheese is one of northeast Wisconsin’s longest-running factories.
In a signed letter to be included with each 20+ Aged Cheddar, Hintz writes: “The cheese you purchased today is not only rich in flavor, it is also rich in tradition and history. Hand-made more than 20 years ago, it is one of the most aged cheeses in the world. I hope you enjoy its taste as much as I enjoyed crafting it.”
All Aged Cheddars will be available beginning at 11 a.m. on Oct. 6th at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart and its adjoining Cheese Bar, at 1048 N. Old World 3rd Street. in Milwaukee. For more information, visit www.wisconsincheesemart.com/cheese-bar/28-year-cheddar/