Small businesses and local artisans are the heartbeat of a community like Cowichan; they represent our neighborhoods’ spirit, the diversity of what our land produces, and are the hub of what makes us unique. Haltwhistle Cheese is one of the many great local businesses run and operated here in the valley. This artisan producer creates delectable cheeses made with character and love, and the help of their 125 mixed-breed dairy goats.
Keeping things local is the spirit of Haltwhistle Cheese, they source as many local ingredients and services as they can, including printing, bookkeeping, and photography. Producing cheese in the Cowichan Valley means they receive a warm reception from customers, local chefs, and shops alike!
right from the farm
Cory Spencer and Kirsten Thorarinson moved to Vancouver Island in 2010 with a dream of producing some of the best cheese around. Still busy at work turning out their indulgent product which includes mostly raw milk cheeses. They breed their animals so that they kid primarily in January, have their busy milking period in October, and then they enter a two-month slow period while the goats are entering their last trimester of gestation. All the goat milk collected is processed into various delicious cheeses – from a fresh and spreadable Chèvre to their raw milk favourites like Tomme de Vallèe and Belmont.
For the last two years, Haltwhistle Cheese has also been fortunate enough to have access to the milk from a herd of Ayrshire cows, from which they produce five raw milk cheeses, plus their fresh cheese curds. Ayrshire milk makes for wonderful cheeses, with high butterfat levels in the milk and a delicious flavour profile in the finished cheese.
This year, Cory and Kirsten are excited to be adding a small flock of milking sheep to their operation, which will be used to produce two varieties of cheese – a sheep’s milk blue and a Basque-inspired sheep’s milk Tomme, one of their favourite categories of cheese. Customers can also look forward to a feta coming this spring and brand-new raw sheep’s milk cheeses this summer.
Bring Haltwhistle Cheese home
You can find the best selection of Haltwhistle Cheese year-round at both the Duncan Farmer’s Market and the Moss Street Farmer’s Market; both operate every Saturday. They will also attend the Esquimalt Farmer’s Market and the Sidney Farmer’s Market this summer.
There’s a home delivery option available for those that prefer that route, and their products are also available through the Cowichan Milk Company and Cow-op.ca. Great Greens has an excellent selection for those who can’t make it to market and prefer to shop in-person. They have a handy place on their website that lists all the local delis and grocery stores that sell their products.
Cory and Kirsten are currently working on getting still warm, fresh-out-of-the-cheese-vat curds into people’s hands, so stay tuned and make sure to keep an eye on their website and social channels for upcoming projects!