Savoury, fruity and full-bodied.
Washed repeatedly over eight weeks, Wash Stone gains an orange rind that breaks the cheese down to a supple Tomme-like texture with savoury, fruity notes. It is made by hand by using fresh warm milk from Tom and Clare’s cows, milked literally next door to their cheese-making room.
At two days old it is delivered to The Courtyard Dairy where it is matured in a different environment from their signature cheese, Fellstone, and hence gains its more savoury, pungent, washed-rind flavours.
Made by Tom and Clare Noblet at Whin Yeats Farm, Hutton Roof, near Carnforth, Cumbria, England.
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Cheese was made on Whin Yeats farm before the Second World War but production ceased for decades until Tom and Clare Noblet revived Whin Yeats farm cheese-making. In 2010, Tom and Clare Noblet moved to Whin Yeats Farm, perched on the steep limestone crags that look to the Yorkshire Dales on one side and the Lake District on the other (at Hutton Roof near Kirkby Lonsdale). This 250-acre family farm’s owners, Max and Jenny Burrow, were looking to retire, meaning that Tom and Clare could gradually take over, and set about becoming dairy farmers. Since then they’ve planted 350 metres of new hedgerows, planted over 2,000 trees and created two new ponds, always improving the farmland and biodiversity, as they look after 80 Friesian cows and 200 sheep. Five years after moving there, Fellstone cheese (also called ‘Whin Yeats’ Wensleydale’) was created.
Fellstone Cheese was developed in 2015 using traditional Wensleydale recipes, and is made daily by Clare, whilst Tom milks the cows and tends to the animals. Following traditional Dales-style recipes gave a cheese more moist and supple than its modern-day counterpart, coupled with fresh-lactic flavours.
Wash Stone is a further development, made exactly the same way as Fellstone and aged for the same length of time, the key difference comes from the maturation. At two days old the cheese is delivered to The Courtyard Dairy to be matured more in the French-style.
Here, rather than being cloth-bound and stored in traditional cheese stores, the cheese is instead kept in French cellar-like conditions, with the rind regularly and repeatedly washed using salt-water. This allows a different bacteria to develop on the rind, orange in colour, which breaks down the texture of the cheese to become softer, and the rind gives the cheese more pungent, savoury, fruity flavours, akin to French cheeses like Pont-l’Évêque and Livarot.
Tasting Wash Stone alongside Fellstone really showcases the difference maturation can make to a cheese.