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The wait was finally over on Friday 13th May as the acclaimed winners of the Virtual Cheese Awards were announced. The date may be unlucky for some, but it wasn’t for Keens Cheddar’s traditional raw milk extra mature cheddar which went through three separate judging rounds to be named the top cheese of the year.
The Virtual Cheese Awards was co-founded in 2020 by cheese and dairy consultant Sarah de Wit to celebrate and support Britain’s world-leading cheese industry during the pandemic. The judging process is completely transparent and open to everyone, regardless of whether they are a curd connoisseur or a rookie. The unique process helps celebrate creativity and gives cheesemakers valuable feedback from some of the most influential cheese experts in the country.
Sarah commented, “It was such a thrilling final and it was wonderful that Keens Cheddar won Supreme Champion and Best of British cheese with its iconic extra mature cheddar.
“We only started the Virtual Cheese Awards as a one-off in the pandemic so it’s so amazing to see how it has grown in its third year. The passion, prowess and perfectionist nature of the British cheese industry was woven into every aspect of the 2022 awards and was a showcase for how our industry is the best in the world bar none”.
James Keen, head cheesemaker at Keens Cheddar was ecstatic about the win, as he explained, /“Winning the prestigious Supreme Champion Award at the 2022 Virtual Cheese Awards has, without a doubt, made our year!
“The concept of having live virtual judging is simply a genius idea. It creates a unique opportunity for anybody to peak behind the curtain and learn the intricacies of the industry from a first-class lineup of judges who know their curds from their whey.”
Keens Cheddar will win free editorial features and digital coverage in Speciality Food magazine and Great British Food magazine worth £4,000, the opportunity to have the winning cheese showcased at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair by the VCA team worth approximately £5,000, a Level 1 Academy of Cheese courses and a year’s subscription worth over £200, a pair of return Eurostar tickets and the potential opportunity to be listed in Booths.
The winners of best of British cheese across the final seven categories were:
Hartington Creamery, Peakland White with Chocolate and Chilli
Best Speciality sponsored by Speciality & Fine Food Fair
Blackwoods Cheese Company, Edmond Tew
Best Territorial sponsored by Booths
Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Mrs Kirkham’s Tasty Lancashire
Best Artisan Hard sponsored by Neals Yard Dairy
Lynher Dairies, Traditional Cornish Yarg
Best Cheddar sponsored by Harvey & Brockless
Keens Cheddar, Traditional Raw Milk Extra Mature Cheddar
Best Blue sponsored by The Cheeseman & The Cheese Hut
Cropwell Bishop, Classic Blue Stilton
Best Artisan Soft sponsored by Neals Yard Dairy
Tenacres Cheese, Hebden Goat
To find out the winners of the regional and excellence awards, head to the VCA website.