Whatever event you’re planning, be it a decadent dinner party or even a relaxed summer picnic, serving a mouth-watering cheeseboard is the ultimate way to impress your guests. With its lush farmland and ideal cheesemaking climate, Scotland produces some of the finest cheeses in the world.
From mature cheddars and creamy wheels to tangy blues and delicious smoked wedges, Scotland’s artisan cheesemakers craft a huge variety of cheeses in a wide range of different textures and flavours, all made from just three types of milk – cow’s milk, sheep’ milk and goat’s milk.
Read on to discover tips on getting the best out of your cheeseboard, discover some of the different types of Scottish cheeses, find great accompaniments and discover places you can stock up on mouth-watering wedges and creamy wheels.
Want to put together a stand-out cheeseboard? Follow these hints and tips for cheese tasting perfection:
- Try to include a wide range of Scottish cheeses, including varieties of cow, sheep and goat milk cheese.
- Sampling different textures is important too. Look out for hard cheeses, such as traditional cheddars and smoked wedges, creamy soft cheeses and rich blue cheeses.
- For maximum flavour, it’s best to serve your cheeseboard before you have dessert so that the sweetness of the dessert doesn’t affect your palate.
- Experts say that the best way to cut cheese is lengthwise, so that everyone gets an equal share of the middle part and the outside.
- Sheep are milked from January till about September, so sheep milk cheeses are at their most abundant, and sweetest, in the summer months – ideal for the peak picnic season!
If you want to pack your cheeseboard with flavours and textures, Scotland is the place to do it. Here are just a few of the wide selection to get you started:
- Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop – a hard-pressed cow milk cheese that is smooth and nutty when young and develops a delectable sharpness as it matures. This famous cheese recently gained PGI status, meaning that it can only be made in and around the town of Dunlop using the milk from Ayrshire cows.
- Ailsa Craig – a soft goat milk cheese that is named after the famous rock in the Firth of Forth. Wrapped in a little parcel, this delectable soft cheese is smooth and creamy with just a hint of goat and absolutely melts in the mouth.
- Orkney Smoked Cheddar – this mouth-wateringly smoked cow milk cheddar is lovingly crafted by the Orkney Cheese Company and smoked to perfection at The Island Smokery.
- Cambus O’May – enjoy the subtle marbling effect of this traditional hard cheese, made from hand-pressed two-day cow milk curd, before you savour the strong, creamy flavours.
- Isle of Arran – Arran is famous for its delicious cheeses. The Arran Cheese Company produce a wide selection of flavours, such as chilli, herb and smoked garlic.
- Anster – taking its name from the Fife fishing village of Anstruther, Anster is a dry cow milk cheese that dissolves on the tongue to leave a fresh, full finish.
- Caboc – made from cow milk and hand-rolled in toasted pinhead oats, this luxurious double-cream soft cheese dates from the 15th century and is said to be Scotland’s oldest cheese.
- Isle of Mull– gold medal winner at the World Cheese Awards in 2011, this flavoursome cheese is made from unpasteurised cow milk and is matured for up to 18 months, giving it a deliciously sharp and tangy flavour.
Serve these tasty accompaniments alongside your cheeseboard and create your own unique flavour combinations:
- Oatcakes – the ultimate accompaniment to cheese! As well as producing stand-out cheeses, Scotland also makes some of the finest oatcakes in the world – very handy!
- Chutneys and preserves – add a new dimension to your favourite cheeses by trying them with a tangy Scottish chutney or sweet preserve.
- Wine – no good cheeseboard should stand alone. Add a glass of fruity Scottish wine and you’ve got a marriage made in heaven.
- Beer – don’t let the wine lovers have all the fun! Scotland’s breweries produce plenty of local beers and ales that go mouth-wateringly well with cheese.
- Whisky – did you know that whisky will also enhance the flavour of your cheeseboard? Try some with a wee dram and see what you think for yourself!
- Gin – proving that cheese is the ultimate foodie chameleon, why not try your cheeseboard paired with your favourite Scottish gin and see what new flavour combinations you’ll discover?
N.B. please remember to drink responsibly
Buy everything you’ll need for your Scottish cheeseboard
You can track down great Scottish cheeses and delicious accompaniments at retailers throughout Scotland, including local farm shops, farmers’ markets, specialist retailers or even at your local supermarket. Here are a few suggestions for starters:
- St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company, near Anstruther- see the cheesemakers at work crafting wheels of Anster cheese from the special viewing gallery, grab a bite to eat in the lovely café and fill your basket with cheese to take home.
- Connage Highland Dairy, near Inverness – visit this excellent dairy for the chance to see cheesemaking in action, enjoy mouth-watering home baking in the café and pick up delicious cheeses in the cheese pantry.
- Rothiemurchus Farm Shop, Aviemore – stock your cheeseboard with artisan cheeses and pick up oatcakes, crackers and exclusive chutneys and preserves at the same time.
- The Balgove Larder Farm Shop, St Andrews – shop for delicious cheeses and mouth-watering accompaniments at this lovely farm shop.
- I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger, shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen – now with six shops throughout the country, this haven for cheese lovers has become something of a Scottish institution. Pop in for expert advice, tastings and select your ideal cheeseboard.
Ready to plan your perfect picnic in Scotland? Find beautiful locations and great recipes or go on a cheese pilgrimage and create an itinerary to make your mouth water with the help of the Scottish Cheese Trail.