Mahón Cheese

A Lesser-Known Spanish Cheese

Sliced cushion of Spanish Mahón cow's milk cheese
Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Mahón is a Spanish cheese from one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, Minorca. Although widely exported, many people aren't familiar with Mahón. Next time you go into a cheese shop, take a break from the other famous Spanish cheese (Manchego) and ask for Mahón (pronounced mah-OWN) instead.

Mahón is made from cow's milk. Both raw and pasteurized versions are sold, although the pasteurized tends to be less flavorful, so keep an eye out for raw milk versions. Young Mahón (aged less than 4 months) is semi-firm and mild. The cheese can be buttery, tangy and salty. Wheels of Mahón that have been aged four months or more take on a saltier, herbal, more complex flavor and a noticeably tangy finish. Wheels that are aged for a year or more have a texture similar to Parmesan and an intense caramelized, salty flavor.

Mahón has a natural rind. Young wheels of Mahón (and, usually, pasteurized versions) have rinds that are an eye-catching orange color. As the cheese ages, the color of the rind fades to gold, brown or rust-colored. The shape of the cheese is square, with rounded edges.

Pairings

Young Mahón often pairs well with Spanish chorizo and beer. Or take things in an entirely different direction and try pairing Mahón with sherry, dried fruit, and nuts. Aged Mahón pairs well with red wines like Spanish Tempranillo and Rioja.

Steven Jenkins, the author of Cheese Primer, recommends eating Mahón the "traditional" way, "sprinkled with olive oil, black pepper, and tarragon."