One upside to the milk quota system, which between 1984 and 2015 capped the amount of milk a farmer could sell without levy, was that it turned several milk producers to cheesemaking for their surplus. In the case of Gwynfor and Thelma Adams on their farm, Glyneithinog, in the secluded wooded Cych Valley, it spurred them to revive the Welsh Caerffilli (Caerphilly) tradition.
The town of Caerphilly, like Stilton, was a market town to which makers of the eponymous cheese would come from throughout Wales as well as across the border to sell their produce. This dwindled when farmhouse production all but died out during World War II. As a looser-textured cheese with a shorter shelf life, its production was discouraged by the Milk Marketing Board. After the war, large-scale cheddar producers revived the name, but not the nature of the cheese, seeing only the profit potential of a quick-to-market product, the reason why most today sadly associate Caerphilly with something that tastes like a cross between cheese and chalk.
In 1987, Thelma drew on six generations of family cheesemaking history and, with the assistance of pioneering cheese technologist Val Bines, she first produced a farmhouse, naturally-rinded Caerfilli now known as Thelma’s Original. Thelma remains at the heart of the business but responsibility has passed to son Carwyn, who since 1999 has added depth and breadth of his own crafting. A desire to provide a complete cheese board has seen the addition of bloomy-rinded, blues, sheep’s milk and washed-rind cheeses, all made to the highest levels and many multi-award winning.