Westcombe Cheddar is the flagship cheese, a hand-crafted traditional cheddar made in much the same way as it was right here by Mrs Brickell over 100 years ago.
Today it is honoured with both European PDO status and the much rarer Artisan Somerset Cheddar designation from Slow Food, as well as numerous awards. We make our Westcombe Cheddar from unadulterated, unpasteurised fresh cows' milk, which reaches the dairy soon after milking and hits the vat still warm from the cows. Once heated, only traditional starter cultures and rennets are added to transform the milk into cheese.
After they're cut and drained, the cheddaring of the curds – as well as their stacking and turning – is done solely by hand.
Once the curd slabs are ready, we use an old peg mill (one of only a few still in use in the country) to mill them down. After mixing in the salt, the curds are pressed into traditional cylindrical cheddar moulds and cloth-bound with lard so they can breathe through their slow ageing (anywhere between 11 to 18 months – or basically until they're ready).
Tom Calver – Cheesemaker / Director, Westcombe Dairy