Barber’s 1833 Reserve Vintage Cheddar and cider brandy!

English mature cheddar cheese. Until I came to England, I had no idea what mature cheddar cheese was. Sure I’d had SHARP cheddar cheese (and didn’t really care for it, too sharp!). I have to admit, my favourite cheese used to be Monterey Jack – no snickering, please. In my defense, our tastebuds do advance with us as much as any other part of our bodies and I’ve long since moved on but English mature cheddar I could never really get my tongue around. A wee tiny bit was all I could stand. That is,until…duh,duh,duhhh…Barber’s 1833  Vintage Reserve English cheddar. I was on a weekend trip to the Somerset and it’s environs last week and our first stop was Barber’s Farmhouse where they have been making cheese since the early 1800’s. They still use the traditional cheese cultures from them and quite frankly, don’t know what exactly constitutes their yeast mix. They can guarantee though, that they are indigenous yeasts.They use about 16 different cultures to make their cheeses but as they are undefined mixtures, they can never replicate the cheese exactly. They believe that their cheeses should reflect the diversity of the organism. Let nature take it’s course, so to speak. The lovely fellows of Barber showed us first how to “iron” cheese. Basically it’s a tube that’s been cut in half lengthwise with a handle on one end. You plunge the sharp end into the cheese and pull out a cylinder of cheese. Much like winemakers use winethieves to sample the wine in barrel, the iron is the same with the cheese. We first “ironed” their 3 month old aged cheddar. It was mild and buttery, very subtle flavours, kind of reminded me of American mild cheddar. The next one we tried was a year old. Now were talking. More cheesy flavours coming through but still quite mild and creamy. The next cheese was aged 1 year and much more intense cheesy flavours. A rich buttery-ness washing over with a slight nutty...

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