Posted on

Best British Cheese

I’ve been spending time thinking about what cheeses to offer over the Silly Season. As usual, I wanted some great local cheese, alongside some rock stars from around the Isles. But with so many out there, how to choose? Time to put my researcher hat back on.

In 1994, Juliet Harbutt started the British Cheese Awards, to showcase our best cheeses. The Supreme Champion each year is the best of the best. Distances are given from the shop, for the localophile in me.

  1. Pavé Cobble (White Lake Cheese, 154 miles)
  2. Shropshire Blue (Cropwell Bishop Creamery, 49m)
  3. Barkham Blue (Two Hoots Cheese, 141m)
  4. Rosary Garlic and Herb (Rosary Goats Cheese, 164m)
  5. Tunworth (Hampshire Cheeses, 152m)
  6. Blue Wensleydale (Wensleydale Creamery, 67m)
  7. Kilree (Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese, 227m)
  8. Golden Cenarth (Caws Cenarth, 142m)
  9. Stilton (Quenby Hall, 63m)
  10. Barkham Blue (Two Hoots Cheese, 141m)
  11. Seriously Strong Cheddar (Caledonian Cheese, 165m)
  12. Tunworth (Hampshire Cheeses, 152m)
  13. Celtic Promise (Teifi Cheese, 134m)
  14. Extra Mature Cheddar (Montgomery Cheese, 161m)
  15. Organic Stilton (Cropwell Bishop Creamery, 49m)
  16. Innes Button (Highfields Farm Dairy, 48m)
  17. Aged Cerney (Cerney Cheese, 108m)
  18. Coolea (Coolea Farmhouse Cheese, 320m)
  19. Extra Mature Cheddar (Cheddar Gorge Cheese, 147m)
  20. Celtic Promise (Teifi Cheese, 134m)
  21. Milleens (256m)
  22. Lincolnshire Poacher (F.W. Read & Sons, 86m)
  23. Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire (46m)
  24. Innes Button (Highfields Farm Dairy, 48m)
Pavé Cobble

In 2016, Ollie Lloyd set up the Great British Cheese Awards, with a stronger focus on awarding based on the choices of the public, rather than professional tasters. The 2017 category winners were:

  • Lincolnshire Poacher (F.W. Read & Sons, 86m)
  • Barkham Blue (Two Hoots Cheese, 141m)
  • Tunworth (Hampshire Cheeses, 152m)
  • Sinodun Hill (Norton and Yarrow, 123m)
  • Cornish Blue (Cornish Cheese, 222m)
Lincolnshire Poacher

Further afield, six British cheeses won “Super Gold” at the 2016 World Cheese Awards, putting them amongst the 66 best cheeses in the world:

  • Cave-aged Goats’ (Ashley Chase Estate, 185m)
  • Cornish Kern (Lynher Dairies, 256m)
  • Gorwydd Caerphilly (Trethowan’s Dairy, 142m)
  • Mrs Bell’s Blue (Shepherds Purse Cheeses, 68m)
  • Lincolnshire Poacher (F.W. Read & Sons, 86m)
  • Unpasteurised Cheddar (Montgomery Cheese, 161m)

The Cave-aged Goats’ ranked highest, at number 13. The 2017 edition takes place in a couple of weeks in that there London.

Cave Aged Goats’

The mainstream press have made lists too, with good choices by the Indy in 2013:

  • Stichelton (32m)
  • Keen’s Cheddar (158m)
  • Stinking Bishop (Charles Martell & Son, 95m)
  • Stilton (Colston Bassett, 51m)
  • Innes Log (Highfields Farm Dairy, 48m)
  • Wensleydale Blue (Wensleydale Creamery, 67m)
  • Blacksticks Blue (Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses, 47m)
  • Connage Dunlop (Connage Highland Dairy, 303m)
  • Cornish Yarg (Lynher Dairies, 256m)
  • Wigmore (Village Maid Cheese, 136m)

and the Torygraph in 2015:

  • Stawley (Hill Farm Dairy, 173m)
  • St James (Holker Farm Dairy, 72m)
  • Hafod (Holden Farm Dairy, 119m)
  • Beauvale (Cropwell Bishop Creamery, 49m)
  • Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire (46m)
  • Capra Nouveau (Brock Hall Farm, 59m)
  • Corra Linn (Errington Cheese, 174m)
  • Berwick Edge (Dorrington Dairy, 155m)
  • St Jude (White Wood Dairy, 153m)
  • Barkham Blue (Two Hoots Cheese, 141m)

A recent piece in the Grauniad focussed on unpasteurised cheeses, of which a few were British:

  • Innes Log (Highfields Farm Dairy, 48m)
  • Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire (46m)
  • Appleby’s Cheshire (Appleby’s Cheese, 43m)
  • Hafod (Holden Farm Dairy, 119m)
Innes Log

The Metro list is best avoided.

“Mature Cheddar”

Finally, I’ve recently been reading “All Cheeses Great & Small / A Life Less Blurry”, by Alex James. A lovely gift from our lovely friends at Reading Matters bookshop. Who better to choose the Rock Star of British Cheese than a Cheesemaking British Rock Star. Alex describes

  • Stichelton (32m)
  • Stinking Bishop (Charles Martell & Son, 95m)
  • Golden Cenarth (Caws Cenarth, 142m)
  • Tunworth (Hampshire Cheeses, 152m)
  • Cornish Blue (Cornish Cheese, 222m)

as brilliant cheeses, whose scarcity was part of their value.

Stinking Bishop

A longlist of long lists, leaving me no closer to a shortlist of modern classics.