Reto Güntensberg grew up making cheese with his father at their family dairy. Bütschwil Dairy is located in the lower Toggenburg and a few years ago, when Reto took over as Head Cheesemaker, he modernised the factory and maturation rooms so he could have better control of production.
Whilst the family was known for making Appenzeller, Reto wanted to develop his own recipes for more traditional cheeses using cultures that he developed. His prized example is First König, meaning ‘First King’ and named for the Churfirsten mountain range that dominates the region and appears on the label that crowns the wheel.
Unlike Appenzeller, this bergkäse – or mountain cheese – is made from whole unpasteurised milk. Over 3 months of maturation, the wheel is lightly washed in brine to encourage the development of a bacterial rind. When fully mature, an amber-coloured rind surrounds a dense paste that yields a creamy and herbaceous flavour and delicate spicy finish.