The afternoon tasting session was an interesting opportunity for cheesemakers to sample and get feedback on recent experiments in their makes.
Jane Stewart from St Andrew’s Farmhouse cheese company had brought two examples of her cheddar cheese, one clothbound and one plasticoated. Apart from the rind, there was no difference in the make, and so it was a really interesting example of how the cheese matures over a year. The plasticoated example had a cleaner taste and a pleasant fruity tang. The clothbound example had higher acidity, great length and complexity.
Next Ben Harris from Ticklemore brought some Beenleigh blue which we compared to an example that Neals Yard Dairy have been experimenting with. NYD had taken their cheeses at a very early stage in their maturation, encouraged rind growth and aged it for longer. The resulting cheese was really interesting, had a softer consistency, the caramel and toasty notes already present in the cheese were much more prominent. A fascinating experiment with great potential.
Ben Ticehurst from Trethowans Dairy showed us 4 cheeses – Two different age profiles of Gorwyd Caerphilly; their standard 10 week old and also a 4 month old version. Now that they are better established in their premises and have more confidence in the make, they are experimenting with ageing the cheeses a little further. The 4 month old version had a drier, yeastier, savoury flavour compared to the 10 week version. The rind had picked up a little miting, meaning it was less pleasant to eat than the young version.They also showed two washed rind versions of the smaller 2kg Caerphilly, one aged for 3 months and one earlier experiment which had been forgotten and aged for 6 months. Both were really good; Squidgy, sticky, interesting floral notes from the washed rind, I look forward to when they are ready to sell some of the cheeses.
It was also interesting to hear from the makers of Rollright, Stawley and Finn who have been trialling different starters, cream content and moulds in their makes.
After the tasting, the presentation of the James Aldridge memorial prize and the Dougal Campbell bursary took place.
The Dougal Campbell bursary went to Dave Holton and Tim Jarvis from Blackwoods Cheese Company, who are moving their operation out of London to the farm near Sevenoaks, Kent from where they currently source their milk.
The James Aldridge Memorial prize for the Best British Raw Milk cheese went to Julie Cheyney for her washed rind cheese St Cera. She was also the winner of the prize in 2013 for St Jude.