One of the Netherlands’ most famous Goudas, Old Amsterdam was first created in the 1940’s by Lambert Westland and his family.
Lambert’s father, Gijsbert Westland, had originally been a thriving fish merchant, but the construction of the IJsselmeer Dam in 1932 signaled the end of fishing for the family. Having always been enthusiastic about cheese, they soon set sights on becoming skilled cheese mongers, buying a cheese wholesale and maturing business in Amsterdam.
A few years later, the Westlands expanded their business by developing their own Gouda recipe, cultures and maturing process. The business model proved successful and, over the intervening decades, the company has grown considerably.
Today, Old Amsterdam is made at a several Dutch dairies that work with carefully selected, high quality milk, according to the original family recipe. Cow’s milk for each cheesemaking operation is sourced from a number of farms that typically have about 50 Friesian Holstein cows, each cow producing between 30-40 liters (8-10 US gallons) per day. For production, the incoming milk is pasteurised and then the starter culture, rennet and a small amount of annatto (natural coloring) are added.
After the milk has coagulated, the curd is cut and transferred into the distinctive Gouda-shaped molds. The cheeses are pressed and then placed in a brine tank which helps to develop the rind. After several hours in the brine, the wheels are transferred to a maturing warehouse.
The process of maturation for Old Amsterdam is fairly unique in that it consists of three different stages. Each stage, is designed to contribute and bring out certain characteristics in the flavor and texture development of the cheeses. The wheels mature at different rates, so the decision as to when they are ready for release is based on flavor and texture rather than time, the judgment call being made by the company’s specialist master cheesemakers.
The interior paste of Old Amsterdam is pale butterscotch in color. The paste is smooth but dotted with occasional eyes and small crystalline nuggets of amino acids. Flavors are rich and sweet, with caramel and toasty notes and a long, balanced, savory finish that leaves you wanting more.