12 Scottish Cheeses You’ve GOT to try…

Food & Drink, Heritage, Scotland

It may come as a surprise to some that Scotland has such an impressive range of seriously good cheeses.  There are over two dozen cheese makers across Scotland today here we tell you a little bit about just some of these fine cheeses. If you know your Blue Murder from your Baby’s Bonnet, you’ll already be familiar with many of these, but if not, then do make sure you give some of them a try as we think you’ll be impressed!

1. Ailsa Craig Cheese

Ailsa Craig Cheese

Ailsa Craig is unique little full fat goats milk cheese. The beautiful little cheese is named after the island situated off the Southern Ayrshire coast of Scotland. It is moulded to look like the island giving it its’ unique shape and is pasteurised and suitable for vegetarians

2. Baby Bonnet

This is a mature, full fat, hard cheese, made from pasteurised goats cheese and has notes of herbs with a smoky lemony tang. It is matured for 4 - 6 months by Ann Durward from Dunlop Dairy in Stewarton, Ayrshire. Stewarton is known as 'The Bonnet Toon' as this is where they manufactured bonnets for the Scottish Infirmary during the 1st World War.

This is a mature, full fat, hard cheese, made from pasteurised goats cheese and has notes of herbs with a smoky lemony tang. It is matured for 4 – 6 months by Ann Durward from Dunlop Dairy in Stewarton, Ayrshire. Stewarton is known as ‘The Bonnet Toon’ as this is where they manufactured bonnets for the Scottish Infirmary during the 1st World War.

3. Barwheys Cheese

Barwheys Scottish Cheese Barwheys is a good quality hard cheese from Ayrshire.  Made exclusively from the unpasteurised milk of a special herd of pedigree Ayrshire cattle that graze on the green pastures that surround the dairy.  The cheese is made by hand, bandaged in traditional cotton cheesecloth, and carefully aged on wooden shelves for between nine and twelve months.  Barwheys has a long and complex flavour. This rich hard cheese hits your tongue with a slightly tart first note, before the taste gives way to subtle hints of nut and caramel.  It has a creamy texture with just the merest hint of crumble.

Barwheys Scottish Cheese
Barwheys is a good quality hard cheese from Ayrshire. Made exclusively from the unpasteurised milk of a special herd of pedigree Ayrshire cattle that graze on the green pastures that surround the dairy. The cheese is made by hand, bandaged in traditional cotton cheesecloth, and carefully aged on wooden shelves for between nine and twelve months. Barwheys has a long and complex flavour. This rich hard cheese hits your tongue with a slightly tart first note, before the taste gives way to subtle hints of nut and caramel. It has a creamy texture with just the merest hint of crumble.

4. Biggar Blue

This is a beautifully crafted Goat’s milk blue. The cheese is named after the close-by Borders town, which displays a goat as part of its emblem. The cheese is still young, but ready to be served. Lactic and clean in taste with a mild aroma of fresh goats milk. The spicy tang of the blue veining works well to give it plenty of character.  Biggar Blue is made by Selina Cairn who is the daughter of the Lanark Blue Cheese's creator Humphrey Errington.  Biggar blue is unpasteurised and suitable for vegetarians.

This is a beautifully crafted Goat’s milk blue. The cheese is named after the close-by Borders town, which displays a goat as part of its emblem. The cheese is still young, but ready to be served. Lactic and clean in taste with a mild aroma of fresh goats milk. The spicy tang of the blue veining works well to give it plenty of character. Biggar Blue is made by Selina Cairn who is the daughter of the Lanark Blue Cheese’s creator Humphrey Errington. Biggar blue is unpasteurised and suitable for vegetarians.

5. Blue Murder

Blur Murder (formerly named Blue Monday) is a spicy, salty, ripe and creamy European style blue made by Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain. Bold with a strong flavour, it is made from cows milk.

Blur Murder (formerly named Blue Monday) is a spicy, salty, ripe and creamy European style blue made by Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain. Bold with a strong flavour, it is made from cows milk.

6. Cambus O’ May

A unique hand made cheese, recreated as it was. This hand pressed 2 day curd melts in your mouth and has a finish that leaves you dreaming of days gone by. Strong and creamy, this flagship cheese is nutty and flavoursome. The first authentic reproduction of this cheese since the 1970’s based on Barbara Reid’s traditional farmhouse recipe.

A unique hand made cheese, recreated as it was. This hand pressed 2 day curd melts in your mouth and has a finish that leaves you dreaming of days gone by. Strong and creamy, this flagship cheese is nutty and flavoursome. The first authentic reproduction of this cheese since the 1970’s based on Barbara Reid’s traditional farmhouse recipe.

7. Clava Organic

A gorgeous creamy smooth organic brie from the Connage Highland Dairy in Ardesier on the shore of the Moray Firth. The dairy is situated on a family farm, Milton of Connage at Ardesier.  The perfect after dinner cheese to have with your oatcakes.  

A gorgeous creamy smooth organic brie from the Connage Highland Dairy in Ardesier on the shore of the Moray Firth. The dairy is situated on a family farm, Milton of Connage at Ardesier.  The perfect after dinner cheese to have with your oatcakes.

8. Criffel Soft Cheese

Criffel is an award winning soft Scottish Cheese from the famous Loch Arthur Dairy, in Dumfries, Scotland.  A good 'smelly' cheese with a tangy, floral taste, deep rounded flavour and smooth texture.  Criffel has a sticky rind, pungent earthy flavour with rich creamy curds.   It is organic and made from un-pasteurised cows milk.

Criffel is an award winning soft Scottish Cheese from the famous Loch Arthur Dairy, in Dumfries, Scotland.  A good ‘smelly’ cheese with a tangy, floral taste, deep rounded flavour and smooth texture.  Criffel has a sticky rind, pungent earthy flavour with rich creamy curds.   It is organic and made from un-pasteurised cows milk.

9. Dunsyre Blue Cheese

A cows milk farmhouse blue cheese made on the same firm is Lanark Blue.  Dunsyre Blue is a soft blue cheese made with unpasteurised Ayrshire cows milk, named after a small village near Lanark in the Clyde valley. When aged, the smooth, creamy-colored interior is penetrated by chunky streaks of blue-green mould that impart a spicy flavor. It is produced by Humphrey Errington artisan cheese-maker who has been making cheese for over 25 years.

A cows milk farmhouse blue cheese made on the same firm is Lanark Blue.  Dunsyre Blue is a soft blue cheese made with unpasteurised Ayrshire cows milk, named after a small village near Lanark in the Clyde valley. When aged, the smooth, creamy-colored interior is penetrated by chunky streaks of blue-green mould that impart a spicy flavor. It is produced by Humphrey Errington artisan cheese-maker who has been making cheese for over 25 years.

10. Isle of Mull Cheddar

Isle of Mull Cheddar is a traditional unpasteurised farmhouse cheddar from Tobermory.  It comes cloth-bound and has a strong nutty flavour with a creamy texture.  It is matured for 17 months which gives it a deep full flavour.  Made on a family farm with unpasteurised milk from their hardy, healthy island cows that are fed on organic grass and whisky grains. 

Isle of Mull Cheddar is a traditional unpasteurised farmhouse cheddar from Tobermory.  It comes cloth-bound and has a strong nutty flavour with a creamy texture.  It is matured for 17 months which gives it a deep full flavour.  Made on a family farm with unpasteurised milk from their hardy, healthy island cows that are fed on organic grass and whisky grains.

11. Loch Arthur

Loch Arthur is a multiple prize winning hard traditional farmhouse organic cheddar from near Dumfries.  It is a firm cheese, quite dry and the flavour suggests a nutty character and a strong, fried-onion tang on the finish.  It usually has a shape of cylinder with pale brown-grey natural rind. In is traditionally a clothbound made Cheddar. The vegetarian cheese ripens in six to nine months and is made at the famous Loch Arthur Dairy from their happy cows. 

Loch Arthur is a multiple prize winning hard traditional farmhouse organic cheddar from near Dumfries.  It is a firm cheese, quite dry and the flavour suggests a nutty character and a strong, fried-onion tang on the finish.  It usually has a shape of cylinder with pale brown-grey natural rind. In is traditionally a clothbound made Cheddar. The vegetarian cheese ripens in six to nine months and is made at the famous Loch Arthur Dairy from their happy cows.

12. Strathdon Blue

This blue cheese is softish in texture and picante in flavour.  It is a prize-winning cheese that is slightly milder than Stilton but has a creamy, slightly salty tang.  Strathdon Blue is matured for 4 months and is produced by the Highland Fine Cheese Dairy in Tain, Sutherland from pasteurised cows milk.  A mild, creamy blue cheese, which when young is quite gentle and smooth but can mature to a richer, more complex blue with slightly ozone hints. Made by Ruaridh (Rory) Stone near Tain, Ross-shire in his dairy, an ex converted brewery by the sea. 

This blue cheese is softish in texture and picante in flavour.  It is a prize-winning cheese that is slightly milder than Stilton but has a creamy, slightly salty tang.  Strathdon Blue is matured for 4 months and is produced by the Highland Fine Cheese Dairy in Tain, Sutherland from pasteurised cows milk.  A mild, creamy blue cheese, which when young is quite gentle and smooth but can mature to a richer, more complex blue with slightly ozone hints.
Made by Ruaridh (Rory) Stone near Tain, Ross-shire in his dairy, an ex converted brewery by the sea.

Scotland’s climate and geography are well suited to cheese-making and today it’s a thriving business.  There is a predominance of hard cheeses in Scotland due to the short cheese making season, as in the past the cheeses needed to be stored/matured through the winter.

At one time most farmhouses or crofts made their own cheese, but this died out, however, thanks to modern temperature controlled facilities and refrigerated transport there has been a revival in artisan cheesemaking in small creameries and farms across Scotland.   Today there are still more than two dozen cheesemakers across Scotland, ranging from large industrial Cheddar creameries to the handful of artisan and farmhouse cheese makers.

Note: the featured image is of Highland Heart – a lovely little brie style cheese which is based on the same recipe at the Clava Organic above.  A great idea for Valentines day!

Thanks to Clarks Speciality Foods for all their help and the beautiful mouthwatering images of their delicious cheeses. For US based customers, New York’s legendary Murray’s Cheese Shop can help  you source some fantastic Scottish cheeses.

Scottish Cookery Books:


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