Whether you prefer a ripe, robust cheddar or a creamy, crumbly blue cheese, make time to discover some distinctly Scottish flavours. Many delicatessens will usually have a well-stocked cheese counter, or visit farm shops and farmers’ markets to buy cheese close to the source. For real enthusiasts, Iain Mellis has renowned cheese emporiums where you can try before you buy, with four shops in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow. When dining out, why not check out what’s on the cheese board? Often restaurants will put together different Scottish cheeses from all corners of the country; a great way to compare and contrast textures and tastes.
Cheddar is the most popular cheese to be made in Scotland and is produced on a number of islands including the Isles of Bute, Arran, Mull, Gigha and Orkney, as well as Lockerbie, Stranraer and Campbeltown on the mainland. Crowdie, a soft, fresh cheese was introduced by the Vikings and is one of the most ancient cheeses in Scotland. Butter-like cheese Caboc, produced in the Ross-shire region of the Highlands, is rolled in toasted oatmeal and best served spread on crackers. Made from the milk of Ayrshire cows, Dunsyre Blue is rich and creamy, with blue spicy veins running through it and has a sweet, mellow taste.
If you want to experience cheese-making in action, visit The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company, based in Anstruther in Fife, where you can see textured Anster cheese being produced in handmade batches. You can even go on a cheese-making course at the West Highland Dairy at Achmore, by Kyle of Lochalsh in the Highlands, to learn how to perfect this art yourself.