Gruyere is a hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk, named after the town of Gruyeres in Switzerland, and originated in the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchatel, Jura, and Berne. Before 2001, when Gruyere gained Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) status as a Swiss cheese, some controversy existed whether French cheeses of a similar nature could also be labeled Gruyere. (French Gruyere cheeses include Comté and Beaufort.) French Gruyère cheeses must have holes according to French agricultural law, whereas holes are usually not present in Swiss Gruyere.
Gruyere is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouthfeel. To make an 80 kg (176 lb.) round of Gruyère cheese, about 8000 litres (2110 gallons) of milk are used.