At Fivemiletown Creamery, we say age most definitely does matter. Particularly when we’ve been making award winning dairy produce since 1898. With such a long tradition of artisan cheesemaking, we created the first Irish blue cheese, Ballyblue, and the first smoked brie in Europe, Ballyoak.
Today we are a farmerowned cooperative that has enjoyed a proud reputation for producing speciality cheeses, butter and milk. Over 100 years farming methods have certainly moved on and technology has progressed at a fast pace. But at Fivemiletown, the same principles of good land management, good people management and care for the produce we make are just as strong today as they ever were.
1898: A great year for cheese
This was the year Fellonburg Montgomery and Sir Arthur Douglas Brooke merged their two farming cooperatives, Fivemiletown and Brookeborough. Back then, the original 95 farmers set the tone and direction for the group by producing high quality butter that went on to win many awards along the way. Those same values of uncompromising quality continue to inspire the people who work at the creamery today.
Fivemiletown Creamery began bottling milk in 1947 and the plant grew quickly to become a major employer in the area. With the rise in supermarket sales, door step milk deliveries tailed off and in 1972, the creamery diversified into cheese production.
Blessed are the cheesemakers
Using traditional methods of ‘open–coolers’, the company began making cheddar. Largely reliant on the cheesemakers’ skills and experience, they had to ‘feel’ the curds and decide on the precise time to drain the whey, cut the curds, salt and finish the cheese. The company still believes that it’s this human interaction with the cheese that gives it its unique character note.
Soon after cheddar came Red Leicester and Double Gloucester and the highly acclaimed reduced fat cheddar. Fivemiletown is proud to have introduced the first popular reduced fat cheddar and led the market for several years.
As demand grew for European and particularly French cuisine, the creamery began to explore Brie cheeses. The first blue veined cheese to be produced in Ireland was Ballyblue and was quickly followed by the first smoked brie in Europe, Ballyoak. The smoked Brie, like the smoked cheddar, Oakwood, is naturally smoked over time using oak wood from a local forest.
Artisan skills, passed from generation to generation
The company continued to grow. A canny move in 1999 led the creamery to buy the equipment it needed to make Fivemiletown unique in its ability to produce a combination of soft and cream cheese. In April 2007, the creamery purchased Ryefield Farms, a third generation family run cheese company. This purchase allowed Fivemiletown to add the BoilÃe brand to its range; a superb fit in terms of production methods, customer base and product brands. The range has since been relaunched.
Then and now
For generations, our cheesemakers have been using milk from our herds that roam the lush pastures of Northern Ireland to make distinctive cheeses. At Fivemiletown Creamery we still believe that great cheese depends on two things. The skill of the cheesemaker and the quality of the ingredients. That’s why cheese lovers all over the world enjoy the delicious flavour of our cheeses every time.
…and the latest news
We are very proud of our long and valuable heritage but in May 2014 the Society had some major changes. Our milk pool of loyal producers now supply their milk to Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Ltd through the Society and our farmers are happy to be associated with them and all their services. Also in May, our soft cheese and Boilie production, under the watchful eye of our skilled team were transferred to Dale Farm and they happily are still produced on our premises. We are delighted that the delicious flavour of our wonderful cheese can continue to be enjoyed.