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Caws Cenarth

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.

Herd size 70 Animal Cow
Creamery Breed Meuse-Rhine-Issel
Single herd Traditional method

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.

This is one of 88 cheesemakers included in Gimblett’s Guide to the Best of British Cheese, due to be published June 2020.

Perl Las

The rich, creamy core gives a heady scent of sweet-cream, morels and orchard fruit and the even bluing gives the mix a piquant fungus nip on the palate.

Sweet whites, tawny port, medium cider.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 400g, 2.6kg
Shape Small-disk, Disk
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Blue

Golden Cenarth

Notes of red game and earth radiate from the rind, while the palate is gentler, with field mushroom broth and double cream notes.

Semi sweet white, mead, malty ale.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 200g, 1.2kg
Shape Small-disk, Disk
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Washed-rind

Perl Wen

Highly characterful, with aromas reminiscent of fresh mushroom, chestnut and crème Chantilly. Outstanding.

Sparkling, aromatic whites, light reds, hoppy ale and cider.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 200g, 1.2kg
Shape Small-disk, Disk
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Bloomy Rind

Caws Cenarth Brie

A well-crafted take on the style with pearlescent rind over tawny ridges. Classic sauerkraut aromas join pigeon breast and elegant herbal notes on a palate. Outstanding.

Sparkling, aromatic whites, light reds, hoppy ale and cider.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 200g, 1.2kg
Shape Small-disk, Disk
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Bloomy Rind

Cenarth Caerffili

Clean, lactic and gently saline with a pleasing crumble.

Aromatic off dry whites, light chilled reds, cider and hoppy ales.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 1.5kg
Shape Drum
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Hard

Thelma Caerfili

Richer and nuttier than the Cenarth Caerffili, with dried fruit and hazelnut notes on the core, strengthening at the rind to earthy game and field mushroom. Outstanding.

Aromatic off dry whites, medium bodied reds, cider and hoppy ales.

Farm shop, via website or wholesalers and cheesemongers countrywide. See web for details.

Weight 2.6kg
Shape Drum
Small breed
Single herd
Rennet Vegetarian
Animal Cow
Style Hard