The real difference between 5, 10, & 15 year Wisconsin cheddar

Credit: Hook's Cheese Co.

By Christina Lorey

January 29, 2024

Cheddar cheese quite literally put Wisconsin on the map. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the state’s fertile grasslands were the ideal place for dairy farmers to put down roots. And whenever they had extra milk, they used it to make cheese before it spoiled.

Today, Wisconsin has become a cheese-producing powerhouse–leading the country in total production every year since counting began! Our most popular cheese? Cheddar.

Hook’s Cheese Co. in Mineral Point is arguably Wisconsin’s most famous cheesemaker, known for its 5-, 10-, and 15-year aged cheddars. But, are they really that different? It depends on how good your taste buds are!

CHECK THIS OUT: You Can Buy Hook’s Full Line of Age Cheddars Online

“A cheddar gets most of its bite between three and five years,” owner Tony Hook said in an interview with Madison Magazine

After the 5-year mark, the cheddar’s flavor starts to shift from sharp to smooth, as crunchy calcium lactate crystals form and replace the bitterness with a fruity flavor.

Theoretically, you can age cheddar as long as you want, as long as it’s bagged and stored at the right temperature. 

Hook’s 10-year cheddar is one of its best-sellers and the only 10-year cheese to win first place at the American Cheese Society contest.

Hook’s 12-year cheddar is a bit sweeter, with subtle honey notes and a borderline crumbly texture.

Once you try Hook’s 15-year cheddar, you’ll notice tanginess in the back of your throat, followed by sweetness and hints of cultured butter. 

Every few years, Hook’s releases a 20-year cheddar, which sells for the eye-popping price tag of $209/pound! Here’s our review from their most recent release.

CALLING ALL CHEESEHEADS: Vote for your favorite cheese shop in Madison!

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

CATEGORIES: FOOD AND DRINK

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