From beloved cheddars to brilliant blues, and the world-famous Stinking Bishop, Musement reveals 10 of the best British cheeses to try.
The UK is abundant with green and fertile land, providing the perfect conditions for dairy farming. With a long tradition of cheese production, Britain is internationally renowned for its cheeses. So, it should come as no surprise that more than 700 varieties of British cheese now exist.
The perfect place for any cheese lover, here is 10 of the best British cheeses to try:
Whilst this famous cheese is now produced in many countries around the world, it originated in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. Produced since at least the 12th century, Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains several caves, which provided the ideal humidity and temperature for maturing the cheese.
A relatively hard white or orange (if colourings are added) cheese. The flavour is generally mild, creamy and smooth. As the cheddar matures, the flavours grow stronger and nuttier, and the texture becomes crumblier. The most popular type of cheese in the UK, this one is always a crowd pleaser.
2. Red Leicester
A hard cheese, similar to cheddar, Red Leicester has a milder flavour and a moister, crumblier texture. Its distinct deep orange colour comes from a vegetable dye called annatto. Typically sold at 6 to 12 months of age, the younger cheeses feature a slightly sweet, mellow flavour. In contrast, the more mature cheeses tend to be tangier with a nuttier taste. All in all, a well-balanced British cheese that pairs wonderfully with a variety of wines, both white and red.
Produced in two varieties, Blue, which has had Penicillium roqueforti added to it, and White, which does not. Both varieties have been granted the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commision, meaning that the cheese can only be produced in the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire. Milder than Roquefort, Stilton has a rich and mellow flavour, with a pungent aftertaste. An excellent cheese for crumbling over salads or paired with sherry or port wine.
4. Perl Las
Continuing with another blue cheese, Perl Las, meaning ‘Blue Pearl’ in Welsh, is one of the most famous British cheeses from Wales. Strong yet creamy with slightly salty undertones, the ‘blue’ aftertaste is sharp and long-lasting. As with any blue cheese, this one is great by itself, melted on a steak, or made into a sauce or soup.
5. Stinking Bishop
A semi-soft cheese from Gloucestershire, the peculiar name comes from its distinct smell. The pungent aroma derives from washing the rind in perry (pear cider). The alcoholic wash also gives a brown/pink colour to the rind. Despite the strong smell, the cheese actually has a very mild and creamy taste. It is made in limited quantities, so you won’t find this one in any British supermarket, although artisan food stores and delicatessens should stock it.
6. Welsh Caerphilly
Caerphilly is a hard, crumbly white cheese that originated in the town of Caerphilly in Wales. A traditional Caerphilly must be made with cow’s milk produced by Welsh farms and is protected by the European Protected Geographical Indication status (PGI). It has a mild taste with a tang of citrus and grassy flavours.
Another cheddar style cheese, this one is creamy, moist and crumbly. It has hints of wild honey and as it ages, the cheese develops a fuller deeper flavour. It comes in many different varieties and due to the honey aroma, it is regularly combined with fruit, such as cranberries or blueberries.
8. Cornish Yarg
A tangy, semi-hard artisan cheese made in Cornwall. The cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves and left to mature, resulting in a distinctive taste. The nettles protect the cheese whilst imparting a grassy aroma and leave a delicate note of mushroom and citrus. Once matured, the cheese is creamy and soft under the rind but slightly crumbly in the core.
Dunlop is a Scottish cheese from the village of Dunlop, in Ayrshire. Developed in the 1700s, the cheese was granted Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status in 2015. As a result, traditional Ayrshire Dunlop can only be produced in the area around Dunlop, with milk from Ayrshire cows, using traditional methods. The flavour profile is mild with a sweet buttery taste. Yet as it matures, the subtle nutty and creamy flavours develop.
10. Cornish Brie
Cornish Brie is a soft style cheese from Cornwall. Made by several dairies in the area, the cheese is made using full-fat pasteurised cow’s milk sourced from the local area. The rich Cornish milk gives the cheese a characteristic yellow colour. The flavour is much milder than its French equivalent, yet still has plenty of creamy and buttery notes. An excellent addition to any British cheeseboard.