What’s Hornbacher, the 2024 World Champion Cheese?

Made from raw cow’s milk by mountain dairy Fritzenhaus in Switzerland and named after the river that flows near the farm, Hornbacher is an aged Alpine cheese that is firm and crumbly, with a creamy mouthfeel and savory flavor akin to a freshly baked potato; it offers hints of butter, caramelized onions, mushrooms, roasted nuts and caramel.

Four-time world champion cheesemaker Michael Spycher and his wife, Monika. Photo: Tom Trachsel Photography

Hornbacher is made by four-time World Champion cheesemaker Michael Spycher for Gourmino AG. The version that won the top gong was Hornbacher ‘Little Brother’ – an 8-month aged variety which Gourmino is set to launch later this year as a ‘younger’ alternative to the 12 month-aged Hornbacher. “Gourmino’s decision to launch the Hornbacher’s junior this year is strengthened by this result,” the company said in a statement. “The 8-month-old Hornbacher impresses with its umami and caramel aroma.”

Spycher’s fourth world cheese champion award follows three others, awarded in 2008, 2020 and 2022 respectively, all for Gruyere, which his dairy also produces. In fact, Gourmino Le Gruyere AOP, which was named World Champion Cheese in 2022, came fourth this year, some 0.225 points behind the gold medal.

Spycher has been making Hornbacher with his team and wife Monika for more than 25 years – and until 2014, the cheese was sold only in their cheese shop.

But with growing demand – including from export markets – led to a decision to expand production, and build a larger cheese cellar, where the cheese matures and is stored until shortly before being delivered to customers.