Britain's select band of Stilton makers is set to welcome a new member with the revival of the Derbyshire-based Hartington Creamery.
There are currently only five Stilton producers in the world, after Quenby Hall went into administration last year and Dairy Crest closed its Hartington Creamery in the Derbyshire village of the same name in 2009.
But two former Dairy Crest executives have teamed up with the village's cheese shop to start a new company and relaunch the Hartington brand, bringing Stilton-making back to Derbyshire once again after a three year hiatus.
Due to start production at a site in nearby Pikehall next month with plans to run cheesemaking courses and open a tourist visitor centre, the new company will produce pasteurised Stilton, Brie and Derby.
Much smaller than the original Hartington Creamery, the new business is targeting the premium end of the market. “We will be making Stilton using artisan techniques with everything done by hand, so we will be targeting premium retailers,” said director Adrian Cartlidge. “ We will be joining the forces of the smaller producers of Stilton.”
Around £500,000 has been invested in the new business at Pikehall, which will initially only make 50 tonnes of cheese per year (the old Hartington Creamery made around 5,000 tonnes a year).
“Hopefully people will recognise and remember the name. There are still big opportunities in the market for Stilton, both in the UK and internationally with growing interest from the US and Japan,” said Cartlidge.
Under the terms of its EU protected status, Stilton can only be made in the three counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The five companies that currently make the cheese are all based in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire: Colston Bassett, Cropwell Bishop, Long Clawson, Tuxford & Tebbutt and Websters.
National Stilton Week runs from 15 - 21 April 2012