Olavidia, a soft goat’s cheese from Spain, bagged the first place at the prestigious World Cheese Awards on November 3, 2021. It beat 4,079 entries from more than 40 countries on five continents. The champion cheese garnered 103 votes, engaging in a close fight with France’s Fromagerie Berthaut, which finished strong with 98 votes. According to British judge Jason Hinds, the Spanish cheese had a “rich, seductive, creamy texture” and “a flavor that was round and warm.”

The Spanish cheese is a product of Quesos y Besos (Cheeses and Kisses), a factory in southern Spain that is operated by only six employees. Silvia Peláez, the head cheesemaker said, “We are a small humble cheesemaker in Jaen,” a city in southern Spain best known for its widely exported olives. “Daily labor has its reward,” she added. Oladivia is characterized by a distinctive olive stone ash coating.

Around 250 judges, including food scientists, cheese sellers, and chefs graced the event. They scored the entries based on their look, feel, smell, and taste. The competition began with 88 hopefuls and was narrowed down to 16 finalists. In the final round of the judging, the judges voted by raising cards bearing a number, on a 1 to 10 scale. Oladivia was the last to be judged among the entries. A blue cheese from Oregon called Rogue River Blue was the winner in 2019. The annual cheese competition was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.