Taleggio Cheese – Why It Smells Bad

Stinky cheeses are a connoisseur’s favorite and not for the faint of heart. Stinky cheese’s unmistakable jarring intense aromas and flavors place it in a class of its own. While many kinds of cheese can be considered stinky, most stinky cheeses come from the washed-rind cheese family.

Taleggio, a member of the popular Italian Stracchino cheeses, has a soft consistency and a strong aroma. This tangy cave-aged cheese from Italy’s Lombardy region has a milder taste than its aroma suggests. It’s also delicious spread on a fresh loaf of crusty bread.

Continue reading to find out what makes Taleggio stinky cheese smell bad.

Taleggio: A Stinky Cheese

Taleggio, thought to be among the oldest soft cheeses, was first developed in the tenth century in the Val Taleggio valley, located in the Italian region of Lombardy. Farmers used to draw whole milk (which they eventually curdled and fermented) from cows as they found their way down the Alps in the fall and winter.

Taleggio’s smell has been described as similar to wet grass or perhaps even body odor, and the longer it is aged, the stronger that smell becomes. On the other hand, its flavor is more pleasant—slightly salty with fruity undertones.

Taleggio has a creamy texture, owing to its nearly 50% fat content, and it’s frequently paired with fruit or added to pasta or salads. Grayson cheese, made in Virginia, is sometimes alluded to as the American cousin of this variation due to similarities in texture, aroma, and flavor.

The traditional Italian washed rind cheese. This DOP-protected cheese is square and aged in caves. Taleggio has a yeasty flavor rather than a strong funk, making it an approachable washed rind. It’s also a versatile cheese, as it’s delicious melted on a pizza topped with mushrooms or on a sandwich with braised short ribs.

Taleggio is not created equal. Look for minimal rind cracking and not too much bulging.

Why Does Taleggio Have Such a Bad Smell?

a Taleggio cheese with a piece cut

It may be difficult to understand why anyone would purposefully eat something with a strong (and not always pleasant) odor, but one person’s stinky cheese is another person’s gourmet delight. Some cheese connoisseurs believe that the stinkier the cheese, the better.

The flavor that develops in such cheese is unparalleled. It has a salty, mushroomy, earthy, and meaty flavor profile. Many folks find that once they begin eating stinky cheeses, they are constantly looking for even stronger options. Many people believe that eating a cheese that many others avoid makes them “tough.”

The term “stinky” refers to a cheese variety from the washed-rind family, which means that its rind was rinsed (most likely in a saltwater solution) during the aging process. This procedure promotes the growth of brevibacterium linens (b-linens), a bacteria found only on washed rinds, resulting in a less acidic but intensely pungent cheese. The intensity of flavor and aroma increases as a block of cheese is washed more frequently and for a longer time.

When purchasing washed-rind cheeses, look for uniformly colored rinds, often orange, pink, or light beige. The odor should be strong. Some ammoniated cheeses are fine to eat, but be wary of any overly ammoniated funk, which could indicate that the cheese has spoiled.

The skin must be smooth, not tacky, sticky, dry, slimy, or cracked, except for a few stinky kinds of cheese. However, most stinky cheeses do not taste as powerfully as they smell, which may explain why so many people are drawn to them.

Other Smelly Cheeses You Should Try

If you’re happy to take the risk, here are a few stinky cheeses to look out for.


French cheese Époisses brand Germain in a box

This is the most well-known of the funky cheeses. There is a rumor that Epoisses has been banned from being transported on public transportation in France on the internet. Yes, it can be that bad.

Epoisses, sold in round boxes to hold the oozing, will run when ripe. Epoisses is aged for six weeks after being washed in pomace brandy marc de Bourgogne. This is the most challenging of the washed rind cheeses, but it is also the most satisfying.

You’ll be converted if you pair it with a floral apricot jam.

Pont l’Evêque

The cheese known as Pont l’Evêque, which translates to “Bishop’s Bridge,” is named after the specific region in Normandy, France, where it is manufactured, dates back to the 12th century, and is among the oldest Norman cheeses still in production. Some may argue that it also smells ancient, but a barn-like aroma is primarily found in its rind, which ages from yellow-orange to red.

If you discard the rind, you may enjoy its creamy flavor with fruity and hazelnut undertones more easily. Pont l’Evêque, like most soft cheeses, is best served at room temperature, spread on a baguette, and paired with champagne or cider.


County Cork, Ireland, is a wondrous place where they make some fantastic cheeses. The tacky orange rind of this cheese is created by the combination of salty sea air and salt brine.

The Burns family has made cheese from Friesian cow’s milk for generations. The fudgy, dense cheeses range from mildly Banyard and peanutty to completely funk. They differ from batch to batch, as do all good farmstead cheeses.


Limburger cheese on a plate next to pieces of bread

The cheese originated in the Duchy of Limburg, encompassing parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The smell of Limburger is frequently compared to sweaty feet, which makes sense given that the bacteria used to ferment it (b-linens) is also identified in the human body and is to blame for foot odor.

Those with a strong enough stomach to get past the aroma of this cheese will find a buttery texture and nutty flavor that pair well with sliced pears and apples and a stout, pale ale, or merlot.

Brick Cheese

A Wisconsin original made in the late 1800s by a Swiss immigrant. John Jossi wanted to make something similar to a Limburger and arrived with the concept of brick cheese. Its name stems from the cheeses being pressed with bricks during the aging process, resulting in a brick-shaped product.

Only a few Wisconsin cheesemakers still make authentic brick cheese. Cut this cheese into rectangles and serve with raw red onion and mustard on rye bread. After consuming, do not kiss anyone for at least 24 hours.