There’s so much more to the wonderful world of cheese than your typical grocery store brick would suggest. Thousands of artisan cheeses around the world are produced via their own intricate and labor-intensive processes, which create complex and stunning flavor profiles. There are many wonderful American-made and imported fine cheeses that won’t break the bank … but none of those are going to appear on this list. Below are 15 of the world’s most expensive cheeses. Many are incredibly rare; their decadent ingredients make them a fromage fiend’s dream (but your wallet’s worst nightmare), and give the term “indulgence” a whole new meaning.
1. BEAUFORT D’ETE – $45 PER POUND
Also known as the Prince of Gruyères, this alpine hunk is the stuff that fondue dreams are made of. Produced from raw cow’s milk, this melts perfectly on anything and has a hazelnut finish. It’s also been around for centuries.
2. GORAU GLAS – $20 TO $40 PER POUND
This won a Gold British Cheese award in 2002 and was acknowledged as the priciest British cheese out there. It’s a soft, small batch blue that is made using a labor-intensive process in Wales.
3. ROGUE RIVER BLUE – $40 TO $50 PER POUND
Truly the crown of Oregon, Rogue River Blue is a smoky, creamy blue that’s been aged in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves. Not only are its ingredients divine, it is also very seasonal as it’s made from raw summer’s milk (hence its hefty price tag).
4. WINNIMERE – $30 TO $45 PER POUND
This highly-desired cheesed wonder won Best of Show at the 2013 American Cheese Society conference. When it comes to expensive cheese, this one is actually relatively affordable. One spruce-wrapped wheel costs about $45 and includes the wintry seasonal flavors of berries, smoked meat, and forest.
5. CACIO BUFALA – $45 PER POUND
Buffalo’s milk has around twice the fat of cow’s milk, so it produces some of the creamiest cheese in the world. This cheese is made with time-tested techniques and aged 8-12 months in the caves of Casa Madaio. It has a delicate, buttery flavor and melts in your mouth.
6. JERSEY BLUE – $40 TO $45 PER POUND
Originally from the UK, Jersey cows produce milk with a very high level of butterfat content, which makes this cheese, manufactured in Switzerland, especially fudgy and creamy in texture. The blue bite is balanced out by the raw milk’s earthy flavor.
7. EPOISSES BY GERMAIN – $45 PER POUND
It might be one of the stinkiest cheeses on the planet, but it’s also one of the most famous. Don’t let the stench fool you: inside the orange-washed rind is a runny masterpiece that tastes like the earth it was made from. This particular wheel is rinsed with Marc de Bourgogne, which is a brandy made from nearby vineyards in France.
8. LORD OF THE HUNDREDS – $15 TO $20 PER POUND
Lord of the Hundreds hails from East Sussex and is made from local sheep’s milk. Like many sheep’s milk cheeses, it is slightly dry and sharp, but has an overall nutty flavor. It is rustic, approachable, and made by people who really know their cheese.
9. OLD FORD – $50 PER POUND
This firm, earthy beauty has elegant floral notes and just the right amount of bite. Since goats yield far less milk than cows do, their cheese is often made fresh and young. However, Old Ford is aged and pressed to perfection by hand. It’s time and labor-intensive, but totally worth it.
10. CACIOCAVALLO PODOLICO – $50 PER POUND
Though the name translates to “Horse Cheese” in Italian, it’s actually made from the milk of avery rare breed of cow called the Podolica. The cows also happen to munch on wild strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and more, which give the cheese its distinct flavor.
11. EXTRA OLD BITTO – $150 PER POUND
China is the place for some of the world’s most expensive and oldest cheeses. The Bitto was purchased by a Hong Kong importer and was made in 1997. Since most Bitto is aged for 10 years, this particular stock is extra rare.
12. WYKE FARMS CHEDDAR – $200 PER POUND
Cheddar is a classic, a staple of any pantry. It makes sandwiches taste better, pairs perfectly with most beers and wines, and is the perfect snack. Wyke Farms turned one of the most traditional cheeses into something extraordinary by infusing it with gold leaf and white truffle.
13. WHITE STILTON GOLD – $450 PER POUND
This is as opulent as it gets. The folks at Long Clawson Dairy first made this cheese for the Christmas season, and it’s now a favorite among celebs. It’s made with real gold flakes and gold liqueur.
14. MOOSE CHEESE – $455 PER POUND
To find cheese that’s worth nearly $500/lb, you’ll have to go to Bjursholm, Sweden and visit the Elk House, which is the only place in the world that makes moose cheese. In fact, the cheese is made from three domesticated moose named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna. Together they yield about 600 pounds of cheese per year.
15. PULE – $576 PER POUND
This crumbly delicacy comes from Serbia and isn’t made from the milk of a cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo … it comes from a donkey. It takes 25 liters of donkey milk just to make one kilogram of cheese.