Le 1608 is a cooked, pressed paste, surface ripened, semi-firm cheese made with thermized cow milk produced by La Laiterie Charlevoix in Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec. Le 1608 was launched in 2008 in honour of Quebec City's 400th anniversary; hence the name 1608, the year Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City.
Le 1608 is made exclusively with the milk of the "Canadienne" cow. This breed of cow is unique to Canada; it owes its origin to bovine imported from France between 1608 and 1660. The natural and ongoing inbreeding led to a new breed of cow called the "Canadienne", the only dairy breed developed in North America. Unfortunately, during the 20th century this breed of cow was gradually replaced by the Holstein. Of the estimated 500,000 head herd in 1900, less than 500 of the "Canadienne" cow remain today.
Le 1608 is fabricated in a large 8 kg (17.5 lbs.) wheel, measuring about 35 cm (14 in) in diameter and (3.5 in.) in height and aged for 2 to 6 months. 1608 has a strong barnyard aroma; it has a slightly sticky pinkish-orange coloured rind with a yellowish coloured paste. The milk from the Canadienne cow has higher butterfat content, resulting to the yellow colour in the paste. 1608 has a smooth and creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture with a pleasant fruity, buttery flavour with lingering hints of apples and nuts. 1608 is a great choice for grilled-cheese, raclette and fondue since it melts very well. 1608 pairs well with a fruity medium bodied white wine or rosé or try it with a Québec sparkling cider.
The Laiterie Charlevoix was founded in 1948 by Stanislas Labbé and Elmina Fortin in Baie-St-Paul. For many years the Laiterie Charlevoix was almost exclusively devoted to the production of cheddar cheese. But the new generation of the Labbé family; brothers Jean, Paul, Bruno and Dominique have added some fine award winning cheese to the Laiterie Charlevoix's repertoire; Le Fleurmier (a soft bloomy rind), L'Origine de Charlevoix (a soft washed-rind 'Reblochon' type cheese), L'Hercule de Charlevoix (a firm cooked paste aged cheese) and Le 1608.
Le 1608 and L'Origine de Charlevoix cheese produced at the Laiterie de Charlevoix as well as the Tomme des Demoiselles and Pied de Vent produced by the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent in the Magdalen Islands, are the only four cheeses currently being made with 100% from the milk of the "Canadienne" breed of cow. These four cheeses will soon be the first to receive an AS (Appellation de Spécificité) which is a Designation of Specificity issued by Quebec's CARTV (Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants).