10 of the smelliest cheeses in the world (and why they stink)

Cheese has been around for a very long time. Though its exact origins are a bit hazy, it was been found in the tomb of an influential ancient Egyptian that dates back as many as 3,200 years ago. While it is impossible to pinpoint a specific date, it is believed that cheese was actually created by accident. This versatile, beloved food is thought to have been discovered when a traveler left milk in a pouch made of sheep’s stomach and didn’t discover the forgotten drink until it had curdled. No matter its history, cheese has remained a popular food that can be paired with fruit, meats, and wines.

And what’s not to love? Except perhaps for the smell. Many of the world’s finest and most flavorful cheeses stink. Whether it resembles body odor or gym socks, some cheeses give off as powerful a smell as they do a flavor. But what makes cheese stink? The aging process is moist, salty, and warm, creating an optimal environment for the growth of bacteria. Brevibacterium linens (also called B. linens) are the bacteria that are most responsible for the stink. This type of bacteria breaks down protein on the cheese’s outer layer, or rind, and releases smelly gases.

To give you a better idea of which cheeses are the greatest olfactory offenders, Stacker compiled a list of 10 of the smelliest cheeses in the world, being sure to note why they stink, using information found on food and farming sites.

These cheeses come from various points in history and regions around the world. They are made of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. They are washed, aged, and wrapped. They are shaped like everything from a square to a cone. While they smell bad, they taste great.

So plug your nose and get ready to join Stacker for the smelliest cheeses in the world.

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