Emmental (also called Emmentaler, Emmenthal, or Emmenthaler) is the oldest among the known types of Swiss cheese: its origins have been traced to the 13th-century canton of Bern.
It’s a semi-hard, smooth cheese interspersed with large holes (called eyes) throughout. Traditionally, it’s made with cow milk, whole and unpasteurized. However, large creameries sometimes tend to opt for pasteurized milk. The color varies from pale, almost ivory, yellow to a more bright, stark yellow hue. Emmental can be left to age anywhere between 4 to 18 months, and the color gets darker the more mature the cheese becomes.
Emmental tends to be rich, buttery, and somewhat sweet when young (aged around 4 months), with a slightly nutty undertone. The nuttiness slowly overtakes sweetness as the primary flavor note as the cheese matures, but it never develops into tanginess or bitterness. In fact, at no stage of maturity should Emmental develop any sour or bitter notes: that would indicate low cheese quality.
Gourmet Emmental cheese is supposed to be very mellow, sweet, and nutty, with no acidity and low salt content.