We speak to Robin Skailes from Cropwell Bishop Creamery, who makes the delicious and mouth-watering Beauvale cheese - found on the Tylney cheese board...
We’re in love with your Beauvale Blue Cheese - what makes it so delicious?
We think Beauvale is a very special cheese, and so do most people that taste it! Beauvale was carefully developed at the creamery with the vision of creating an authentic English soft blue cheese that would be a real challenger to the many continental soft blue cheeses out there. We love Beauvale’s soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture and mellow flavour, and find it appeals to both traditional Stilton fans, and those that prefer a milder blue flavour. Beauvale has a prestigious collection of awards to its name, including a 3* Great Taste Award, a Top 50 foods Great Taste Award and, this year it was named Best British Product at the Great British Food Awards.
Cropwell Bishop is truly a family affair – how long have the Skailes family been making cheese?
Cheesemaking is certainly in our blood! My grandfather, Frank, was the first generation of the Skailes family to make Stilton, way back in the 1920s, and our first Stilton dairy was located in Melton Mowbray. My father and Uncle followed in their father’s footsteps and took over the running of the business in the 1980s. Today, it’s myself and my cousin, Ben, who manage the running of the creamery, and it gives me a great sense of pride to know we are the third generation to work in the family business.
It was really interesting to read that Stilton can only be produced in three UK counties – can you tell us more?
Stilton cheese was awarded European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in 1996, and this means that it can only be made in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, and producers have to follow traditional recipes that have been around for generations. That's exactly what we do at Cropwell Bishop Creamery, because to us, making Stilton is more than just a business, it's a way of life, and we're keen to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
You’re renown for using traditional cheese making methods – what are they?
We are one of the last remaining artisan Stilton-makers in the country and we only use traditional methods to make our cheese. This starts right at the beginning of the cheesemaking process, with our fresh milk. All our milk comes from small family farms that we know and trust, and whose herds graze outside, enjoying the lush Peak District pasture and producing perfect milk for making Stilton. Unlike most of the other Stilton dairies, lots of elements of our cheesemaking are still done by hand.
We hand-ladle our curd, this is a very traditional way of cheesemaking and gives the cheese it’s smooth and creamy texture. We also rub-up all our heese by hand, which involves using a pallet knife to seal the cheese when it’s four days old to prevent the blue mould from developing too early. We also individually hand-grade all our cheese, so we know it's absolutely perfect before sending it out to our customers.
What’s your personal favourite?
That’s a tough one! I think Beauvale is a fantastic cheese, and every time I taste it I’m reminded just how good it is. However, I also don’t think you can beat our classic Blue Stilton, especially when paired with honey and walnuts or enjoyed with a full-bodied Claret.