Quesucos de Liébana PDO

Cheese made from whole milk, mostly cows’ milk but occasionally mixed with ewes’ or goat’s milk, from Tudanca, Swiss Brown and Friesian cows, Latxa ewes and Pyrenean and Picos de Europa goats. Ripened for a minimum of fifteen days.

Tasting notes

Mild in flavor, acidulate and buttery, with a characteristic aroma. The smoked variety has a more-developed, acidulates, cured flavor, with the typical smoky aroma.

Other notes

In cylinder or disc shape, with a diameter of 8-12 cm (3-4½”) and height of 3-10 centimeters (1-4”). Weighs about 500 g (1 lb). The rind is natural or smoked, and the paste is firm, compact and slightly yellowish in color, with a few, irregularly-distributed holes. Fat content must be a minimum of 45% of dry matter, with moisture in excess of 30%.

Production / Processing method

The milk must be whole and clean, with a balanced fat and protein content, in line with the seasonal characteristics of the milk from the different breeds. Coagulation must be carried out, using animal rennet, at a temperature of 28-32ªC (82-89ºF) for a minimum of 45 minutes. The resulting curds are then cut until pea size. They are then packed into self-draining molds, giving the cheeses their characteristic shape. Salting is carried out using dry salt, in a proportion of 2-3% of the weight of the cheese. Ripening lasts a minimum of 15 days and is carried out in places with a relative humidity of 85-95% and a temperature below 15ºC (59ºF). The cheeses are turned and cleaned as required. If the ripening period is less than 60 days, the milk must first be pasteurized. The smoking that is characteristic of the Aliva, Brez and Lomeña areas helps the cheese to last longer and gives added aromas. This process is carried out in special chambers and traditionally uses juniper wood. It takes 1-1½ days, depending on the intensity of flavor desired.

Geography / Relief and climate

The district of Liébana is located in the south-west of Cantabria. To the west it borders on the Principality of Asturias and to the south with the provinces of Palencia and León (Castile-León). In the north is the Picos de Europa massif, a National Park and a cheese-lover’s paradise.

The area lies in a circular graben approximately 40 km (25 miles) in diameter. The base lies at an altitude of 300-400 m (984-1,312 ft) above sea level, and the edges reach over 2,000 m (6,561 ft).

The landscape is fairly irregular, with long, narrow valleys alternating with irregular watersheds that have been much affected by erosion. The relief is unusually sharp in the western part of the massif, with many vertical walls. The southern and eastern edges are gentler, with some terracing on the slopes.

The soils in the lowest parts of the depression have Paleozoic slates on the surface leading to moist, brown, limey soils which are richly alkaline and full of nutritional elements. The soils on the sides of the depression are made of Paleozoic limey materials. Beyond the Peña Labra peak, these alternate with conglomerates, sandstone, clay and limonite.

Temperatures are mild, with an annual average of 14.5ºC, the average minimum being 10ºC (50ºF) and the average maximum 20ºC (68ºF). During the months of July and August, absolute maxima of around 36ºC (96.8ºF) may be reached. Rainfall is heavy, between 900 (34”) and 1,200 mm (47”), and there are 90-120 days of rain a year.The frequent winds are cool and damp in the north and may be very dry and hot in the south.

The main rivers are the Deva and Nansa. The Deva starts in the Picos de Europa and its last stretch forms the border with Asturias. Its most important tributaries are the Quivisa and Bayón. This river is the most irregular in this part of the territory and its estuary forms the Tina Mayor ria. The Nansa starts close to the border with Palencia, covers great differences in height and opens into Tina Menor. Its only important tributary is the Lamasón.

A fairly large variety of plant species grow in this area. Pasturelands include spontaneous grass species, most of them annuals, which are useful for grazing. The species on the high mountains are similar to those found in the meadows.

Regulatory Council

Consejo Regulador de la DOP Quesucos de Liébana
C/ Héroes 2 de Mayo, 27
39600 Muriedas
Tel: (+34) 942 269 855

Spanish Ministry of Agriculture

Regulatory Council, Quesucos de Liébana PDO

Muriedas (Cantabria)

Muriedas (Cantabria)