The best Scottish cheeses from Aberdeenshire
Cheesemakers in north east Scotland are gaining a reputation for quality product
Alex Reid of Cambus O’May Cheese Company can remember watching his mother make cheese in the family farmhouse as a boy. Now a sixth generation cheesemaker, Reid has built a business out of celebrating the best of the local area through the taste – and naming – of his cheeses. Launched in 2008, the Ballater-based operation stocks delis and shops throughout Aberdeenshire, as well as selling at local markets.
All the cheeses are made traditionally from curds cut and filled into muslin lined moulds, just as generations before have done, albeit with new modern equipment on hand. Handcrafted using unpasteurised milk, Cambus’s signature cheese, the pale and strong Cambus O’May is one of a range which includes the nutty-flavoured creamy Lochnagar (named after the mountain in Deeside), matured for four months and inspired by an old family recipe; Auld Lochnagar cheese, matured for 12 months to create a greater depth of flavour; Lairig Ghru (named after a famous mountain pass in the Cairngorms) – a moist, crumbly, lemony cheese; and Auld Reekie smoked cheese, inspired in name by Edinburgh, but staying faithful to the North East with its local smoking methods and delicate whisky and wood finish.
Keen to get folks involved in the cheesemaking process, visitors to Cambus O’May’s facility outside Ballater are invited to watch the Deeside creamery in action from the viewing area; while the more hardcore fan can indulge in an accredited one-day cheesemaker course.
A little way downstream the River Dee, Devenick Dairy, just outside Aberdeen, the Groat family is another following in the farming footsteps of the generations before them. Deciding in 2006 to use their fresh milk to create their own products, they haven’t looked back. From their ever-expanding herd of Jerseys and Friesians, the family produce cheese, yoghurt and cheesecake, selling their wares at local fairs, farmers’ markets and delis.
Their impressive, 17-strong cheese plate also pays tribute to local landmarks and agricultural traditions. Highlights include the cheddary, textured Granite City, the creamy, soft Badentoy Boy, the mild and moist Coos R Oot, and the fresh-flavoured Cowdie, Devenick’s version of the more traditional Crowdie.