The UK is well known for its cheeses, chief among them the Stiltons (especially the blue variety) and the cheddars, which originated in Somerset. The cheese-making tradition was likely inherited from the Romans who invaded in AD 43 and for whom cheese was a dietary staple. In Scotland, there are roughly two dozen cheesemakers, a handful of which are making farmhouse cheese using milk produced on-site (or close by). We ate our way through a large handful of them at George Mewes Cheese shop in the West End of Glasgow. These are the five we liked best.
Errington Cheese Cora Linn
The Dairy: Cora Linn is made by Errington Cheese, a small, family-run farm and cheese company that began making cheese in 1983 in South Lanarkshire in the Scottish Lowlands. On the farm they have 450 Lacaune dairy sheep in addition to Scotch and English mules.
Made With: It’s a ewe’s (sheep’s) milk cheese made with unpasteurized milk and vegetarian rennet, pressed overnight, rubbed with locally grown rapeseed oil and wrapped in muslin cheesecloth and then matured for four months to a year.
Tasting Notes: Hard and slightly creamy cheese with a nutty and sweet flavor.
Dunlop Dairy Bonnet
East Ayrshire, Scotland
The Dairy: Dunlop dairy is on Clerkland Farm, bought by the current owners in 1983. They fixed the place up and started making cheese in 1989, beginning with Bonnet and Swinzie made of goat’s and sheep’s milk, respectively. After that they introduced cows to the mix. This is all farmhouse cheese, made solely from the milk of animals on the property.
Made With: Bonnet is a hard-pressed cheese made with Saanen and Toggenburg goats’ milk. The cheese is named after the local town of Stewarton, aka “The Bonnet Toun”, because the mills there made bonnets (hats) for army regiments.
Tasting Notes: It’s aged for 6 to 10 months, creating a semi-hard, chewy texture with a nutty, herby and lemony flavor.
Highland Fine Cheeses Strathdon Blue
The Dairy: Located in Tain and founded in 1963, they specialize in Highlands cheeses.
Made With: Pasteurized cows’ milk from Ayrshire and Holstein-Friesian cows and animal rennet.
Tasting Notes: This is a creamy, soft blue, one of Scotland’s oldest blues and winner of the “super gold” at the 2014 World Cheese Awards. It’s salty and buttery, with some peppery notes.
Isle of Mull Cheese
Tobermory, Isle of Mull
The Dairy: The small family farm is located near the island’s only town, and is also the island’s only dairy.
Made With: Isle of Mull is made with mostly Friesian and some Ayrshire, Jersey and Brown Swiss cows’ milk, all of it unpasteurized and from the farm. It’s matured up to 18 months.
Tasting Notes: This is a semi-hard cheese, creamy and moist. Considered the king of Scottish cheese, it’s sharp with deep tangy and fruity notes. In addition to grass, the cows eat mash from the Tobermory distillery, which gives the resulting cheese a yeasty sharpness. Drink with whisky, naturally.
Errington Cheese Dunsyre Blue
The Dairy: Errington Cheese, the same dairy that makes Cora Linn.
Made with: This is the cheese Errington makes the most of. It’s a blue cow’s milk cheese made with unpasteurized milk and matured in old stone farm buildings for two to four months.
Tasting Notes: Flaky and moist, with salty, sharp and spicy notes. It’s a strong blue.