Cheese: Isle of Mull Cheddar
Who: Chris & Jeff Reade
Where: Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Inner-Hebrides, Scotland
Milk Type: cow, raw
Texture: semi-firm, moist
Shape: 55lb drum
Flavor: Rustic and farm-ish but rather mild with lingering, fruity acidity. Sea brine, mineral and hints of whiskey ferment
This is the cheddar that some call the “Pride of Scotland.” Like the craggy, wind-worn island Mull itself, Isle of Mull Cheddar presents an appearance of the “defiant cheese”. This is a dense but moist and smooth-textured old crag of a cheese whose bandaged and scarred rind failed fully to protect the paste within from insidious molds, driven into it like the sea spray pounding surface of the shore.
Tobermory is the only village on Mull, an island of some 3,000. Chris and Jeff Reade, who’d been making cheddar in Somerset purchased and began rebuilding what was left Scriob Ruadh (Red Furrow) Farm in 1979. Taking most fo 20 years to get the farm fully functional.
Like many farmstead, raw milk cheeses, I’m certain that the flavor of Isle of Mull varies, certainly as the feed changes from winter grains to summer grass and the Reade’s supplement with what’s available in the short season, including “draff” the waste grain husks from the Tobermory’s whiskey distillery. The wedge here was on the mild side but very pleasing. Not a challenging cheese, not overly acidic nor very dusty as Montgomery’s can be, this would make a superb ploughman’s lunch, with a hearty bread, a stout mustard and a pint (though I’ll be trying it with a French Cahors at some point!)