- Somerset-based cheesemaker White Lake Cheese scooped the Supreme Champion for its Sheep Rustler ewe's milk cheese at this this year's British Cheese Awards
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Sheep Rustler was named the top cheese out of over 1,000 varieties entered, sealing a second consecutive Supreme Champion accolade for White Lake Cheese, with the company’s Pavé Cobble claiming the top prize last year.
Sheep Rustler is made using thermised ewe’s milk, then aged for around three months. The result is a semi-hard cheese with a medium, mellow flavour that is slightly nutty with a hint of caramel.
The winners of the British Cheese Awards 2018 were announced at the British Cheese Awards Dinner held on Wednesday 30th May. The awards and dinner, celebrating their 25th year, took place on the first day of the Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
All the cheeses were scored on presentation, texture, aroma, flavour and balance. Dependent on the scores that each cheese received, gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded.
Roger Longman, co-founder and cheesemaker at White Lake Cheese said, “We were thrilled to win Supreme Champion this year for Sheep Rustler. This award really reflects on how much this is a team effort. From the cheesemakers, cheese washers and cheese packers, everyone at White Lake Cheese had a part to play. This accolade is a testament to all the hard work and dedication we put in to the cheeses we make.
“The British Cheese Awards are the premier cheese awards in the UK and to us are the ones that matter. The evening was a superb experience for us and it means so much for us to be judged by our peers. The event and the judges are the best in the country and they really are a superb celebration of British cheesemakers .”
As well as Supreme Champion, the Reserve Champion, the four Country Awards and the eight Main Category Awards, there were also 13 Special Awards given to cheesemakers. Within the Special Awards there was a new award this year for Best Sheep Milk Cheese.
This year’s competition attracted over 1,000 entries from 147 makers, with 77 judges reviewing 123 classes of cheese. Cheeses entered came from over 54 counties that covered the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, showing just how vibrant the British Cheese Industry is today.
Peter Mitchell, chairman of the British Cheese Awards said, “The number and quality of the cheeses entered for this year’s awards has been exceptional and made judging and choosing the winners a real challenge. We’re delighted that White Lake Cheese, a local Somerset cheesemaker, won the Supreme Champion trophy for its Sheep Rustler; a delicious and intriguing ewe’s milk cheese.
“We’re very fortunate in this country to have such a great number of dedicated and skilled cheesemakers that are renowned for their excellence and commitment to quality. This is reflected in the cheeses that were judged this year. All the cheeses that were entered into the competition are on display at the Royal Bath & West Show until this Saturday 2nd June.”
The British Cheese Awards were started by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt in 1994 to celebrate the renaissance in British cheesemaking and to raise awareness of the diversity and quality of British artisan cheese. In the first year there were 296 entries from 97 cheesemakers but by 2015 there were nearly 1,000 from 296 cheesemakers. At the invitation of the committee, Juliet returned to the UK to judge at this year’s awards and presented one of the awards at the dinner.
Juliet said, “I’m delighted to have been invited by the committee to attend this year’s awards. I can’t quite believe it’s 25 years since I started them and I’m thrilled to see they’re still going strong, attracting entries from across the British Isles highlighting the extraordinary range of cheeses we make.”
The awards also welcomed Michelin-star chef Michel Roux as a member of the Supreme Champion Panel, members of which judged which of the 1,000 cheeses entered was crowned the Supreme Champion 2018.
Michel Roux said, “I was delighted to be a senior judge at this year’s British Cheese Awards. A deep passion since childhood, my fascination with cheese has led me to many corners of the world. It is the most ancient and mysterious, yet humble and universal of foods. English varieties are some of the best I have tasted, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and help celebrate its 25th birthday!”
The winners of the British Cheese Awards 2018 were:Champion
Champion Retailer Marks and Spencer
Reserve Champion J A & E Montgomery Ltd
Supreme Champion White Lake Cheese
Best English Cheese 418 Ducketts Caerphilly 146 - Westcombe Dairy
Best Irish Cheese Boyne Valley Bán 604 - Boyne Valley Farmhouse Cheese
Best Scottish CheeseSmoked Mull Of Kintyre 147 - First Milk Campbeltown
Best Welsh Cheese Celtic Promise - Caws Teifi Cheese
Best Blue Blue Swaledale - The Swaledale Cheese Company Ltd
Best Dairy Product Whey Butter - Barbers Farmhouse Cheesemakers
Best Export Rollright - King Stone Dairy
Best Flavour-Added Cerney Pepper - Cerney Cheese
Best Fresh Cheese American Style Soft Cheese - Dairygold Food Ingredients Ltd
Best Modern British Killeen Goat Mature - Killeen Farmhouse
Best New Cheese Stratford Blue - Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses
Best Packaging Award The Merry Wyfe - Bath Soft Cheese
Best Semi-Soft Celtic Promise - Caws Teifi Cheese
Best Soft White Bix - Nettlebed Creamery
Best Cheddar Westcombe Cheddar - Westcombe Dairy
Best Cheese from a Member of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association Award Killeen Goat Mature - Killeen Farmhouse
Best Goat Cheese Ashlynn - Cheese Cellar Dairy
Best Organic Cheese The Merry Wyfe - Bath Soft Cheese
Best PDO/PGI Cheese Stilton - Colston Bassett and District Dairy
Best Prepared Block Cheese Extra Mature - Dairy Crest Davidstow
Best Sheep Cheese Flower Marie - Golden Cross Cheese Co Ltd
Best Show Dressed Cheese Wensleydale - Joseph Heler
Best Territorial Ducketts Caerphilly - Westcombe Dairy