Trappist monks and nuns in Western France make semi-soft cow’s milk cheese. They also produce walnut liqueur. When they combine the two, what’s commonly sold as Timanoix is born.
To fashion this rich, earthy cheese, monks and nuns wash their homemade Port Salut in a brine containing walnut liqueur. Devout cheesemakers practice this ancient technique of “washing” cheese to prevent wheels from cracking and to add savory flavors that help satisfy cravings during fasts when meat is forbidden. After 60 days in a cellar, Timanoix’s washed exterior takes on a chestnut hue, while the center remains buttery and pale. Tasters say the result is a deep walnut flavor with hints of chocolate and leather, followed by a slightly bitter, milky aftertaste.
Though this booze-washed cheese boasts a unique claim to fame, its washed-rind, slightly pungent character (some compare its aroma to a barnyard) is emblematic of a classic monastic dairy product. In fact, the monks at Abbaye Notre Dame de Timadeuc got the idea from nuns at Notre-Dame d’Espérance in Échourgnac in 2003. The sisters shared their recipe after demand for their walnut liqueur–washed cheese became too high to satisfy alone.
Need to Know
Monastic walnut liqueur–washed Port Salut is sold in many cheese shops and markets around France, as well as online.
Where to Try It
Abbey of EchourgnacLa Trappe, Echourgnac, 24410, France
Nuns at this abbey created the popular walnut liqueur–washed cheese in 1999. You can purchase their array of cheeses at the on-site shop.
Abbaye Notre Dame de TimadeucTimadeuc , Bréhan, 56580 , France
These monks produce the same cheese created by the nuns at Echourgnac, which they sell at their abbey.