Soft, curdy and rich
- Sheep's Milk
Set by gently acidifying the milk, Castlerigg is zesty-fresh with a honeyed ‘sheepy’ richness on the finish. It’s sold at barely two-weeks old, and showcases the rich sweetness of the Gott’s delicious milk. Only 90 are made each week, and then only during August and September. Thankfully, The Courtyard Dairy gets the lions share of those made!
Made by Nicola Robinson and Martin Gott in Cartmel, Cumbria, England.
More about this
Martin Gott and Nicola Robinson’s cheese-making is dictated by the seasons – they only make sheep’s cheese after the lambing each year, when the milk flows. The Gott’s most famous creation, St James, is made using the milk from their 110 Lacaune sheep. When he was 16, Martin Gott helped famous cheese-maker James Aldridge, the pioneer of ‘washed rind’ cheeses in Britain, on his family farm, and then left to carry out apprenticeships at Kirkham’s Lancashire and Sleight Farm (with Mary Holbrook).
There he kept sheep and started experimenting with making a sheep’s milk cheese, initially making a small lactic-set cheese that was sold weekly at Bath farmers market. But these fresh cheeses have a short shelf life, so Martin soon realised he would have to make a larger, more stable cheese, to be able to sell further afield. Hence was born his most famous creation: St James.
In 2006, Martin and Nicola (his partner) decided to return to Cumbria to set-up by themselves on the Holker Estate, taking a tiny tenancy farm with two fields covering just 13 acres. Martin and Nicola decided to use a non-intensive method of farming, only making cheese when the sheep are out at pasture, and only milking once a day (making for a less-stressed animal and a better-quality milk). After some traumatic times setting up (including having to cull their whole herd), they returned to making St James cheese, and this rich intensive washed-rind has become one of Britain’s most talked about cheese (watch the video below).
For a long time, when St James became so popular, their little, fresh, lactic cheeses stopped being made. But still, every summer, when all the sheep are in full lactation and grazing the lush Cumbrian pasture, the Gott family have more milk than they can cope with. And there’s only a limited market for the superb St James (they sell to only 3 wholesale customers, including The Courtyard Dairy). So they have now decided to restart production of a very limited supply of these lovely cheeses.
Made to a French-style like the alctic goats cheese you find in the Loire Valley (Valencay, Ste Maure), the milk for Castlerigg is set into curd slowly over two days before being hand-ladled into moulds and allowed to drain naturally. The wrinkly Geotrichum yeast forms naturally on the rind over the next two weeks (it is naturally present in the sheep milk) and breaks down the curdy cheese to give more intense, farmy, savoury and sheep notes to the cheese. The cheese is ashed on the outside (with edible vegetable ash) to help the rind form and give it the characteristic colour contrasting the pale sheep’s milk inside.
Interested to know more? Read this interview with Martin Gott.
Castlerigg is at its best for two-weeks from the date of delivery. So, conveniently, at checkout you can choose a delivery date even well in the future, if you would like your cheese delivering for a specific event.
Weight: 1 x 180g cheese.