Tipperary cheesemakers bring sheep’s milk to Irish retail shelves

Consumers will soon get a taste of sheep’s milk with the imminent arrival on retail shelves of a liquid milk product from J&L Grubb in Cashel, Co Tipperary.

Best known as the makers of Cashel Blue and the Crozier Blue sheep’s milk blue cheese, Jane and Louis Grubb are at an advanced stage in talks with one major Irish retailer to also roll out a liquid milk product.

The arrival of sheep’s milk onto supermarket shelves will be a first for Irish retail. Mr Grubb expects it to remain a niche product, but says first-timers are impressed by its sweet taste and low fat content. “Goat’s milk has a very distinctive taste,” said Mr Grubb. “Cow’s milk has a milder flavour; sheep’s milk is similar, but a little sweeter and more silky smooth in texture.

“There is a suggestion that we should bring out a cream product, due to the milk’s healthier, low-fat content. We’ll see. We’re already using all 100% of the sheep’s milk supplied by Henry Clifton-Brown’s Ballinamona Farm in Cashel for our Blue Crozier cheese.

“We’re only rolling out the liquid sheep’s milk because there is popular demand for it. We’ll give people a chance to taste it, and see then. It’ll be on the shop shelves as liquid milk, but it will always be a niche product.”

Sheep’s milk has always been recommended by the likes of the Asthma Research Council in the UK and the Eczema Society. It is better tolerated by individuals allergic to bovine dairy products.

It contains much higher levels of vitamins and minerals than any other type of milk. It helps in the development of strong bones, helps prevent osteoporosis. It is high in both calcium and zinc.

J&L Grubb’s existing accreditations for its cheese put the company in a position to trial the liquid milk product with mainstream consumers. The product is widely available in France and some other EU states, but this will be a first retail outing in Ireland.

The product will be available for free tastings at the Sheridan’s Irish Food Festival on Sunday, May 27. This will be the celebrated cheesemonger’s third annual festival hosting at its Virginia Road Station headquarters in Co Meath.

Jane and Louis Grubb’s daughter, Sarah Furno, said next weekend’s festival will be the ideal opportunity to try sheep’s milk for the first time. “It has a lovely, smooth, mild flavour right now, it is very approachable, and lots different to goat’s milk, which tends to be stronger.

“We got lots of our staff to try it, without telling them what it was. They really commended its smooth flavour. It’s the first time that the Irish public will have an opportunity to taste sheep’s milk and we’re confident it will also spur them to try our cheese.”

Crozier Blue celebrates its 20th anniversary next year and is still the only blue cheese in Ireland made from sheep’s milk, its makers stated.


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