Island Cheese

I’ve been traveling. To the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Not very typical cheese land, but still. I was there for other reasons than cheese, so I did not visit the only cheese factory there is on the island, Shetland Cheese situated in Skeld, a 45-minute-drive from Lerwick.
I did take a cheese platter at the hotel where I lived, though. All pasteurized and OK but not extraordinary. Rather mild.

At the local Tesco I found White Stilton which I had never had before. I will leave that for a later occasion. Th other cheese I found was from The Orkney Cheese Company. A 200g flow pack wrapped piece of cheese. Pretty sceptical this guy, but I’ve heard cheese from the Orkney Islands is pretty good. Well, the main cheese i have heard from but never tasted is Seator’s Orkney.

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I did not taste the Orkney Mature Scottish Island Cheddar until I arrived home. And I must admit as I have tasted it over a few days it brings out more each time. The only thing I cannot find is a nutty taste that the manufacturer says it shows. I am not able to detect it.

The Story

This cheese has a special story. During the last war the Orkney Island received some 60 000 servicemen that were based on the island. After a while 550 POW arrived as well. Not so much the POW, but the 60 000 servicemen posed a food challenge. The farmers were not prepared for this, but they had to step up production rather rapidly to avoid lack of milk, meat and local produce. That worked out fine.

But eventually peace arrived and all the servicemen went home. So did the POWs. The latter left behind them a beauty of a chapel that can still be visited. The former a huge surplus of everything farmed. Long story short, a cooperative was formed and a dairy built and inaugurated in 1946. The rest i history. You can find cheese from the Orkney’s all over Britain and maybe abroad as well, I do not know.
It is pasteurized I must admit. With only 26 members of this cooperative I think it should be possible the make unpasteurized cheese. It is matured for a while as well, so the risk of contamination is rather low I would reckon. Awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) in 2013, something of which they are, quite understandably, very proud.

..and cooking..

Good for cooking as well as most cheaddars, should add a fine touch to any dish.

Taste

Rather milky I would say. Creamy texture in the mouth. Mild but with a lot of body and rather long for a pasteurized cheese. Distinct saltiness, but nothing like the levels you may find in blue cheeses. Rather balanced I would say.

To drink

They make whisky on the Islands, but I am not familiar with the style. If it has too much smoke it will definitely kill the cheese. So if whisky is your preferred pairing you should look for a very mild one. Ale would pair well, I am a fan of Bitter from my student days in Manchester. Otherwise a good cup of tea.