Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cheese: Isle of Mull (Cheddar)

Isle of Mull cheese is made on one farm, Sgriob-ruadh farm, owned by Chris and Jeff Reade, on the Isle of Mull, near the principal town of Tobermory, off the west coast of Scotland. When Judy and I visited Scotland years ago we drove through Oban and contemplated taking the ferry to the Isle of Mull. However, it looked like the backup for the ferry was extensive and we continued on. So when I saw this cheese at DTLA Cheese in Los Angeles, the name caught my attention and had to try it. 
Isle of Mull cheddar cheese
It is a hard cow's milk cheese and is considered the king of Scottish cheddar cheeses, winning awards like the BBC Food and Farming Award, Best Scottish Cheese, British Cheese Awards Gold and a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards. The cows they use are predominantly Friesian, but they also have Ayrshire or Jersey and Brown Swiss cows and the cows milk is used raw. The cows feed is regularly supplemented with discarded fermented grain from the Tobermory malt whiskey distillery, which helps give the cheese a distinctive taste. And who said it is the California cows that are happy cows? It is matured in an underground cellar for up to 18 months and has been described as: (a) having a "complex, sharp, tangy and fruity flavor;" (b) "feisty, complex, sharp, yeasty, sharp, tangy and fruity;" (c) "quite a sharp taste, with hints of the fruity, yeasty and slightly alcoholic cows feed offering a feisty lingering tang;"   (d) "meaty, salty, boozy. There's no tang that I sometimes taste in cheddar, that tang is replaced by an alcohol note. It's not sweet...It's fruity, but without any sweet, like a savoury fruit. It's completely unlike any cheddar I have ever tasted. It's funky and yeasty and aggressive. It's boozy and sexy and weird" - this was a particularly good review and started by saying that this was his cheese seller's favorite cheese. 
The descriptions for the taste of this cheese were more varied and descriptive than those I've seen for any other cheese. I can't even begin to compete with those descriptions. I agree with the descriptions of sharp and tangy and it is quite strong. I love the location of the farm, the small-scale one farm operation and I also like the taste of the cheese. 

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