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Made with unpasteurised milk

Westcombe Cheddar

from £4.20

Westcombe Dairy produces one of the 'big three' Somerset cheddars, the others being Keen's and Montgomery's. Although cheese had been made at Westcombe Farm, near Shepton Mallett, since the 1890s, there had been a gap when cheesemaking re-started in the early 1990s.

Sarah Freeman says in The Real Cheese Companion that it "falls neatly between the softer, more flowery tones of Montgomery's and the altogether more robust character of Keen's."  Westcombe also make the marvellous Westcombe Red, the cheese which single-handedly resurrected the idea of unpasteurized Red Leicester.

Unpasteurised, not vegeterian

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Westcombe Dairy

Westcombe Dairy draws on the milk of three farms run by Richard Calver. Richard started cheesemaking in the 1990s - although cheese has been made on the Westcombe site since the 1880s - and got together with fellow makers Keens and Montgomerys in 2002 to form what the Slow Food movement calls a Presidium, devoted to protecting traditional artisan foods, in this case Somerset cheddar.

Traditional in this case means that unpasteurised milk is used, and must come from the maker's own farm; animal - not vegetarian - rennet is used; the cheddaring process is done by hand; cheeses are then clothbound and matured

for at least a year. In addition to Westcombe Cheddar, they also make Westcombe Red, and have taken over the Ducketts cheeses (Duckett's Caerphilly, Wedmore, Smoked Wedmore) since the death of Chris Duckett.

Today cheesemaking is in the capable hands of Richard's son Tom (pictured above). Tom spent a number of years working for Randolph Hodgson at Neal's Yard Dairy before coming back to look after the marketing of their cheeses: he's now taken over the making itself.