Scottish Cheese? I blame the Romans!

Scottish artisan cheese has struggled in the 20th Century. But after millennia in the dark, Scottish cheese is starting to see the light!

Once upon a time there was an annual trophy for the best Scottish Farmhouse cheese. But by 1972 it had been discontinued because there had been only one entrant in six years!

To all intents and purposes, due to all kinds of reasons – lack of demand, milk marketing policies, bulk purchasing, supermarkets – Scottish cheese had dwindled to the production of basic cheddars. Proper, authentic Scottish farmhouse cheese looked like it had gone forever.

It’s the fault of the Romans. When they arrived in this end of the European subcontinent, they spread not just peace, architecture, water supply etc. but cheese-making skills gleaned from an empire spanning half the known world. Unfortunately, even with their rather more sophisticated cheese-making skills, they stopped short at the boundaries of the Scottish tribes. They simply preferred to keep the Scots out (hence Hadrian’s Wall). So, most traditional Scottish cheese was more Celtic – mostly a bit like cottage cheese. Some traditional cheeses emerged, but they struggled through the 20th century…

With the demise of mass milk purchasing in the 80s, things changed. Scottish farmers began to see artisan cheese making as a way of making more money from dairy herds. Old recipes were dusted off, new markets found, and a new respect for the industry started to grow.

Producers unearthed old styles, and created new versions of old favourites, reviving skills and building the infrastructure to launch and sustain a more diverse, more exciting cheese industry. Innovation, recognition and awards followed…

Holy moley! Scottish cheese is fantastic!

At least half of the cheeses at our January cheese nights are ones we have NEVER had before and seldom find their way south of the border. With amazing flavours and textures – and some extraordinary names – these are the crème de la crème of modern and traditional Scottish cheese!  Come share them with us!