Flagship is a cheddar-style cheese with an appealing creamy texture and nutty flavor — but what I’m really excited about is Flagship’s cousin, Flagship Reserve.
To make the Reserve, Beecher’s cheesemakers wrap wheels of Flagship cheese in cheesecloth (a traditional method of aging cheddar; the cloth protects the rind from drying out over time) and then allow the wheels to cure for up to 18 months. The wheels are attentively nurtured during that time, rotated and brushed off frequently to maximize their longevity and flavor potential.
The result is an Old World style cheddar that’s rich with complex flavor. Flagship Reserve starts out a bit lemony-citrusy on the tongue, then soon mellows into a slightly sweet, nutty fruitiness reminiscent of a good Parmigiano-Reggiano. Caramel notes — deeply seductive in aged cheeses — abound. So good is this cheese that it was awarded an impressive second place overall, in a field of more than 1,200 cheeses, at the American Cheese Society Competition in 2007. Now that’s good local cheese.