An Insider’s Guide to Welsh Cheese
The Welsh countryside has seen many changes in the centuries since Brythonic farmers first let their cows roam free over the green hills and valleys. One thing, however, has remained constant: Wales’ love of dairy farming, and Welsh cheese production in particular. From the earliest days of Celtic settlement to the modern age, when Welsh cheese makers can be found making different types of award-winning artisanal cheese at farmhouses across the country, the taste of cheese seems to be woven into the very fabric of Welsh life and culture. Here is a list of famous welsh cheese you can look forward to trying when you visit Wales:
Aged for over 8 months, Caws Teifi is a soft washed-rind goat’s milk cheese from Wales. Similar in flavour and texture to Brie, Caws Teifi has an appealing citrus note and is aged for two months in a light brine.
Located in Cenarth, a small town on Pembrokeshire’s rugged north coast, Caws Cenarth is home to one of Wales’ best artisan cheesemakers. Miles and Gail Griffiths have been making award-winning farmhouse cheddar here since 1989. The milk comes from their own dairy herd—about 200 animals—as well as other local farmers who are members of their co-operative.
Ty Coch Farmhouse
A favourite among enthusiasts, Ty Coch is a raw cow’s milk farmhouse cheese made by hand in small batches on family-owned farmland in south Wales. Since starting out as a farmhouse operation over a century ago, it has evolved into one of Britain’s most respected dairies; today, it is sold and produced across Europe, and has been distributed internationally since 1996.
Nestled in a crook of hills between Colne and Ribble Valleys is Trawden, an idyllic market town that has built its name on dairy farming. Once a thriving centre for wool manufacturing, residents long ago switched over to raising cattle—and their numbers have grown steadily ever since. No surprise, then, that there are plenty of award-winning local cheesemakers in Trawden who have turned those copious quantities of milk into some truly excellent Welsh cheese.
The easiest and most famous of Welsh cheeses, Pant Mawr is a lightly-smoked, semi-hard cow’s milk cheese (Welsh Cheddar). Produced by wrapping slabs of curd in straw and smoking them for several hours over oak shavings (no, you don’t have to use an actual oak tree!), it tastes like that campfire smell got trapped in your fridge.
Located in North Wales, Snowdonia Cheese is a producer of award-winning cheddar cheeses. As you might expect, they use only locally sourced milk from farms located nearby (the cows feed on lush grasses that grow on mountainside pastures). Their products have earned international recognition and their focus on sustainability earned them a place as leading members of Sustainable Dairy Wales.
The less-known cousin of cheddar, Dragon is made from cow’s milk and has a relatively high fat content, meaning it’s often soft and creamy. Often available in small sizes (such as individual rounds), Dragon is also commonly found wrapped in fern leaves or nettles – an old-fashioned practice that originated with Welsh farmers who needed ways to keep their cheeses cool while transporting them. The leaf wrappings helped hold in moisture as well as cool temperatures.