Top Five British Cheeses
Travel back in time a few decades and a list of the Top Five British Cheeses would look very different. You’d probably find a Cheddar, a Stilton, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, or Wensleydale perhaps? But fast forward to 2023 and the cheese landscape is a much richer, more varied place. So much so, choosing just five has been quite the challenge, with the British Cheese Board suggesting there are upwards of 700 cheeses made in the UK (and yes, tasting them all is a mission we’re happy to accept…!)
While we may not have tasted all 700 (yet), we’ve certainly tasted enough to confidently present our top five British cheeses. Whether you’re a fan of a soft, meltingly creamy brie-style cheese, or prefer the crumbly sharpness of a Cheddar, there’s something here for every taste. Read on to find your favourite.
1. Monkey Chop Loveable Rogue
A relatively new addition to the cheese world, Monkey Chop Loveable Rogue has already earned its place in our hearts, minds and stomachs. Creamy, with a delicate flavour that's more teasingly tempting than the intense ‘cheesiness’ of a traditional Brie. But then this is the latest offering from the mastermind behind Barbury Hill’s long-running favourite and multiple award-winning Black Cow Deluxe Cheddar. Bringing years of experience to this Brie-style soft cheese has resulted in a meltingly moreish debut from Monkey Chop that had us sold with just one bite.
2. Darling Howe and Little Darling
Proof that British Bries are more than a match for their French counterparts, Darling Howe from the Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy is a masterclass in cheesemaking. You could put the nutty, buttery flavour with light citrus notes down to the happy herd of cows who graze on organic pastures for 300 days a year. Or perhaps it's the mix of Jersey, Friesian and Norwegian Red cows that make up that happy herd. Whatever their secret, Darling Howe is a classic example of British cheesemaking at its very best. The Great Taste Awards certainly agreed, bestowing a rare Three Stars and the following glowing praise…
“Rich, creamy, diary freshness is warm and soft with honest meadow character contrasting with bold mushroom umami notes and a touch of acidity to add further dimension.”
And for those planning a romantic tête-à-tête, the company has now launched a petite version - Little Darling. Ideal for a smaller cheeseboard, it’s everything we love about Darling Howe, just perfectly packaged for two.
3. Black Cow
You may have heard of Black Cow for their creamy Pure Milk Vodka, made from the waste whey leftover from cheesemaking. And if you’re a fan of this innovative spirit with its creamy, smooth character, you’ll love the Deluxe Cheddar. Made from the milk of cows that graze the fields of West Dorset, and aged for at least 12 months in black wax, the Cheddar takes on an intensity of flavour that’s a pleasing reminder that, when done well, British Cheddar really is a national treasure.
4. Bath Soft Cheese
Sticking with the West Country, our next pick is the dreamily creamy Bath Soft Cheese. The melt-in-the-mouth texture and creamy mushroom notes lifted with a hint of citrus flavours make it a firm favourite at Barbury Hill Wine & Cheese tastings. And it’s not just the flavour that’s a hit. Park Farm, where Bath Soft is made, is another beacon of sustainability. From solar panels and biomass boilers to biodegradable packaging, they’re working hard to reduce their carbon footprint.
While we’ve picked Bath Soft Cheese for our top five British cheeses, we were hard pressed to choose just one from this independent producer. Which may explain why Barbury Hill’s Five Wedges is a best-seller!
5. Sinodun Hill Goats Cheese
Last but by no means least, the exquisite Sinodun Hill Goats Cheese from Norton & Yarrow. Goat farmers and artisan cheesemakers, Rachel and Fraser started their adventure in the cheese world in 2014 and have gone from strength-to-strength, recently winning Best Artisan Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. But that’s no surprise to those of us lucky enough to have enjoyed the creamy, mousse-like texture and fresh citrus notes of Sinodun Hill. Made using a traditional process which allows time for the flavours to develop, Sinodun Hill is then ripened for a further 21 days to add even more complexity to the flavour profile.
What’s your favourite cheese?
This is just a small selection of the exceptional cheese to be found around the UK. From Scotland to Cornwall, our nation’s dairy farmers and cheesemakers are constantly innovating, creating, and delighting us with their products. We’d love to hear from you and find out if there’s an artisan cheese you think deserves a place in our top five British cheeses. And if you want to find out why these five have such rave reviews, take a look at our Artisan Cheese category and add a few of these award-winning cheeses to your next cheeseboard.
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