Producer: High Weald Dairy
What’s your story? “Our cheese is an unpressed cheese, which is matured for eight weeks before being lightly smoked over oak shavings for 24 hours,” says cheesemaker Chris Heyes (pictured, left).
“It is named after Ashdown Forest, which comprises 6,500 acres of heathland, created 900 years ago as a hunting ground for the kings of England and better now known as the home of Pooh Bear of AA Milne fame. High Weald Dairy was originally based at Duddleswell, a small hamlet on the forest, and it was here that a flock of sheep were milked and the milk turned into sheep milk cheese, with cows milk cheeses being added later.”
Why is your cheese a regional gem? “It has a great taste, distinctive shape, and lovely smokiness - a reminder of autumn. It is actually made using vegetable colanders as cheese moulds, giving the cheese its distinctive basket weave pattern on the surface. And we get our oak shavings from a local carpenter who makes Sussex barns.”
The Grocer says: There are some terrible processed smoked cheeses out there, which can put even the most enthusiastic cheese fan off the smoky stuff. But this smoked gem will change minds. The quality of the oak shavings used to smoke Ashdown Forester’s really shines through, giving the cheese a strong yet non-abrasive smokiness. The contrast between golden cheese and naturally browned rind would also give it great stand-out on any cheeseboard.