Best British Cheeses
Our Top 10 best British cheeses
It’s a tough job, but at Barbury Hill we have to taste a lot of cheese. How else could we recommend the best British cheeses and be confident we’re featuring only the finest the country has to offer? We know from our customers that our artisan cheese is a winner with them and the lucky recipients so we’ve rounded up the top ten best British cheeses from our tastings and our customer feedback.
It wouldn’t be a list of the best British cheeses without a mention of Fen Farm Dairy. While the famed Baron Bigod is found at the top of many lists of the best British cheeses, we’ll admit to being partial to its rather more decadent sibling, the Truffled Baron Bigod.
Boasting the same earthy tones as the Brie-style cheese, the Truffled Baron has the added bonus of a heady blend of mascarpone and summer truffle cream at its heart that lends more than a hint of luxuriance.
Handmade in Suffolk, using the milk of Montbeliarde cows, Baron Bigod and Truffled Baron Bigod have been voted above their French counterparts, making this homegrown cheese one to be proud of.
2. Tunwoth, Hampshire Cheese Co.
Hailing from the rolling hills and proverbial green pastures of Hampshire, Tunworth is Britain’s answer to Camembert. Made entirely by hand, this soft, white-rinded cheese has a sweet, nutty flavour that balances perfectly with the more earthy mushroom notes.
Lovingly crafted by yet another award-winning British independent producer, Tunworth is a fine example of the exceptional produce this country has to offer.
A stalwart in all of our nine Bath Soft Cheese collections, Bath Blue is a creamily moreish blue veined cheese, and a close cousin to the classic Stilton. A justly deserving recipient of Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2014, the Bath Blue is packed with flavour and aroma.
Perhaps it’s the free grazing on the green pastures of Park Farm, or the fresh organic milk from the herd of Holstein Friesian cows. It may be the organic farming methods, or the more than 100 years of experience in making cheese. Whatever the reason, our cheeseboards are never without a wedge of Bath Blue.
Made on Collingthwaite Farm on the northern tip of Sherwood Forest, Stichelton is an English blue cheese with more than a passing resemblance to Stilton. But unlike Stilton, Stichelton is made from the unpasteurised milk of Friesian-Holstein cows, natural rennet and the 18 year old culture MT36 which was used to make stilton before it moved to pasteurised milk.
The nutty flavours of this creamy white cheese are sweetened with a hint of apples and underlying toasty notes. Thin veins of blue-green add a tangy kick, while the orange-brown rind adds a long-lasting caramelised sweetness.
A must on any cheeseboard featuring the best British cheese, Black Cow Cheddar is one with a difference. With a history of cheese-making that stretched back 300 years, dairy farmer Jason Barber could have happily continued making cheese. And he did. But the waste inherent in the cheesemaking process prompted him to look at it another way. Instead of wasting the whey - the by-product - he started experimenting. Inspired by the ancient Mongolian tradition of making alcohol from milk, he was able to develop an innovative method of making high proof, creamy vodka from the whey.
The cheddar it all began from is still a big part of the process; after all, no cheese, no whey, and no whey, no vodka. Made from the milk of cows that graze the farm’s West Dorset fields, the cheddar is aged for at least 12 months in thick black wax, imparting an intense and rich flavour with a crumbly texture.
6. Quickes Vintage Clothbound Cheddar
Another classic, this cheddar boasts a complex spectrum of flavour that ranges from buttery to salted caramel, through umami and creaminess. A world away from the cheddar found on supermarket shelves, this clothbound version has a heritage that dates back to the 16th century. And their techniques share the same heritage, with the cheese made by hand and slowly matured to draw out the deep flavours.
Quickes share the same thought and consideration for the environment as many of our independent producers, with an ethos of ‘Farm like you’re going to live forever’. After 500 years of caring for their land in Somerset, it would seem they’re certainly succeeding.
7. Bix, Nettlebed Creamery
An award-winning, indulgent triple cream cheese, Bix is made by Nettlebed Creamery, on a dairy started by the owner’s grandfather in 1950. Seventy years later, they have a trophy cabinet to be proud of and a selection of cheese and dairy products that showcase the organic milk of their Friesian, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde cows.
Our favourite, Bix, is inspired by classic French cheeses like Chaource and Brillat Savarin, and combines milk and extra double cream for an exceptionally rich and creamy flavour. It’s then matured for three weeks to allow the sharp, tangy centre and soft, unctuous texture to develop.
8. Sinodun Hill, Norton & Yarrow
Norton and Yarrow are a new breed of cheesemakers, bringing with them an innovative approach and a willingness to experiment. Founders, Rachel Yarrow and Fraser Norton left their careers to farm floppy-eared goats in 2016 and the mousse-like texture and zesty finish of Sinodun Hill was an instant success.
Sinodun Hill is made on the Earth Trust Farm in South Oxfordshire, using milk from their own goats and French techniques such as slow lactic coagulation. Similar in style to Pouligny, their decadent goats cheese has a nutty quality, with a rind that develops green and blue moulds, adding character to the cheese.
9. Rachel, White Lake Cheese
Rachel is another goats cheese, but unlike the creamy, soft Sinodun Hill, it’s a semi-hard, washed-rind cheese. Carefully crafted by a third generation farmer in Somerset, using milk from a mix of Toggenburg, British Alpine and Saanen goats, Rachel’s delicate sweet notes have earned it multiple awards, including Best Goats Cheese at the World Cheese Awards 2017-18.
Along with the other cheeses of White Lake Cheese, Rachel is the result of experimentation and revolution. Taking seemingly crazy ideas and making them a reality has resulted in a range of exceptional cheese and places them at the forefront of artisan cheese production in the UK.
Godminster Oak-smoked is a firm favourite, so much so that we feature it on Barbury Hill where it’s a bestseller. It’s made to the same 90-year-old recipe as their Vintage Organic Cheddar and is then matured for up to 12 months. It’s then cold-smoked over sustainably-sourced oak chippings for up to 10 hours to impart an astounding depth of flavour and delightfully smooth texture.
A deserved winner of Gold at the World Cheese Awards 2018, Godminster Oak-Smoked makes a star appearance in Barbury Hill’s Trio of Vintage Organic Cheddars, alongside the Black Truffle Vintage Organic Cheddar Truckle and the Vintage Organic Cheddar Truckle.
Best British cheeses for the Best British cheeseboard
While any combination of these cheeses would make a standout cheeseboard, our recent Story about creating the perfect cheeseboard will give you more tips. Each of these options is a cut above a supermarket Cheddar or a French Brie, and sure to kickstart a conversation between your guests, even if it is a Brie vs. Baron Bigod debate.
As cheerleaders for the Best of British, we like to accompany our British cheese with a selection of English wines and charcuterie from Beal’s Farm. Another conversation starter, these award-winning air-dried cuts are from Mangalitsa pigs, the rich marbling testament to their free range over the pastures and woodlands of the Mid-Sussex farm.
How to care for your cheese
Once you’ve selected your favourites from the best cheeses the UK has to offer, you’ll want to look after them so you can enjoy them at their best for longer. We’ve put together a guide to help you keep the cheese fresh for longer, though with cheese this good, the real issue is trying not to eat it all in one go!
What’s your favourite British cheese?
Is your favourite cheese in our list of the top ten best British cheeses? If not, let us know what we’ve missed! We’re always happy to chat about our favourite subject, so if there’s a cheese we haven’t featured in this list, or one you’d like us to stock at Barbury Hill, get in touch. To see more of our range of cheese, head to our Artisan Cheese category and explore our selection of the best of British cheese.
by Dan Smith, Barbury Hill Founder
Dan founded Barbury Hill and he is the man behind our mission to shine a light on the best of British food and drink. He loves wine, cider and small batch cheese. And every producer on Barbury Hill.