13 Dec 2011

Do washed rind cheeses get enough respect?

I had an interesting chat with Cumbria-based cheesemaker and monger Martin Gott the other day. He reckons too many cheesemongers treat washed rind cheeses as the “joke” of the counter because of a lack of understanding.

Gott has just developed a new unpasteurised washed rind cheese called Brother David, which joins his long-standing washed rind ewes' milk cheese St James (pictured above), both of which are sold by Neal's Yard and in his shop Cartmel Cheeses.

“All too often washed rind cheeses are seen as caricature cheeses - 'come and try this, it will blow your socks off'," he told me.  "But washed rind cheeses shouldn't be offensive and they shouldn't be the joke in the shop. There's a lack of understanding about the flavour of washed rind cheeses and how they should be handled among wholesalers and cheesemongers. They have been slow to embrace them, but a washed rind cheese should be on any British cheese board. Consumers are more sophisticated than retailers give them credit for.”

Gott showcases a wide range of washed rind cheeses in his shop, stocking up to a dozen different styles, including Muntser, Cardo, Stinking Bishop, Adrahan, plus his own cheeses.

“We have the full spectrum and if it's not up to the mark we don't stock it – and that includes our own cheeses,” he said. “We opened the shop 18 months ago in area where there weren't any cheese shops. You might think people would not understand about washed rind cheeses, but it's these that are selling really well.”

Gott's cheese making business is based at Holker Farm on the Holker Estate, where he and his partner Nicola Robinson have around 180 Lacaune sheep. 

The new Brother David is made with milk from four newly bought Shorthorn cows to fill production during the winter months when sheep's milk is not available. Washed in water everyday while it matures over five weeks, the cheese has a smoky ham and long milky notes. “It's somewhere between a Langres and a Munster, but has its own distinct characteristics,” he said.

What do you think? Are washed rind cheeses under-rated? Do you struggle with the powerful smell that some have? Or should cheesemongers give us more credit?

* To read the original article in the Cheeswire section of Fine Food Digest's Dec 2011 issue. Click here


  1. I think because levels of production are generally lower its less widely available than other styles and if people come across it they're wary to try something new. I love washed rinds!

  2. That's where the cheesemonger needs to know his/her stuff and not market them as just being pongy cheeses, I suppose!They're definitely becoming easier to find, which is good.