Tomorrow I’ll be revealing my favourite cheeses from the 100 I’ve written up here, and I’ll be harnessing the powers of drunken chums science to work out the Supreme Winning Champion Cheese. But for now, here’s cheese 100.

Montgomery’s Cheddar

A hard raw-milk cow’s cheese from Somerset, bought from Neals Yard Dairy.

Monty’s is a real beast of a cheddar; strong and dense and farmy. I think it’s my favourite cheddar, and it’s definitely a classic. The rind of our wedge is pale biscuity white, imprinted with the pattern of the cloth it was bound in. It’s smattered with fissures of a powdery beige – these remind me of lunar craters, but are the work of the cheese mite. Cheese mites love cheddar!

Inside, the paste’s a good, bright patchy yellow colour, with occasional bright patches where crystals have formed. It crumbles and cracks as I cut a slice.

In my mouth, it feels solid – good and chewy. It tastes rather epic; the sort of flavour that goes on for days, progressing and developing. Here’s a rundown;

  • First, a sweet, slightly nutty mellow flavour.
  • Then it opens out and becomes salty.
  • Next, a sudden top -of-mouth sharpness appears, bright, cheerful and fruity (kumquats and pineapples), and very acidic.
  • This expands outwards, making me drool a bit and suck my cheeks in.
  • Another whomph of that almondy milky sweetness, in the centre of the sharpness.
  • A developing undertone of ‘farmyard’; poo and silage and mud. Not very subtle.
  • There’s a dense, rich meatiness to this as well; like french onion soup on a cold day.
  • The back of my throat feels warm and prickles when I swallow.
  • A lingering, mellow taste of farmyard and milk hangs around in my mouth and throat.

And, of course, while all of these tastes are doing their thing, there’s also the slow softening and crumbing of the cheese in my mouth, and occasional moments of glee when I crunch into a lactic acid crystal.  (Hurrah for lactic acid crystals! They’re so much fun!)

The mite-pitted rind is chewy and slightly sweet, and tastes of cowpat and dettol. It prickles my mouth a little. It’s not really for eating.

(Monty’s also makes delicious cheese straws, macaroni cheese, and cheese on toast. Its wilder tendencies are curbed, a little, when it’s cooked, but it’s still got a deep, rich intense flavour.)