Jeff and Chris Reade moved from Somerset, where they had been making Cheddar, to a dilapidated farm called Scriob Ruadh, in 1979. It is just outside the town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Over the next 35 years, together with their three sons and driven by their own enterprise, ingenuity, skill, and hard work, they have built a working farm. It now includes cow housing, a milking parlour, cheesemaking room and cellars, a thriving biscuit business (one of the island’s largest employers) and homes for the boys and their families.
All of this is powered entirely by a hydroelectric plant (fed by water channels that took them fifteen years to dig out) and two wind turbines that they also erected themselves. People of the island are welcome to use their custom-built indoor swimming pool, which stands next to the cheese making room and is heated using the waste hot water from the jacket of the vat in which the Isle of Mull cheese is made.
Summers are short on the island, so the herd of mainly Swedish Red and Meuse Rhine Issel cows spend a good deal of the year inside. They are fed on a diet that is split evenly between silage and spent grain husks, known as draff, from the distillery in Tobermory a mile or so away. The cheeses can have a wetter texture and a more alcoholic and fermented flavour, which was often put down to the draff in the cows’ diet. Today the cheese is made by one of Jeff and Chris’ three sons, Brendan Reade and cheesemaker Steve Palmer. We typically sell Isle of Mull cheddar when it has been matured for between 13 and 15 months.
*Clothbound with lard.
It can sometimes be hard to know how much cheese to buy. If you are at all unsure please give us a call for some advice. As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend roughly between 100 and 150 grams per person for after dinner, and a bit more if cheese is the focus of the meal.
If you are buying cheese to serve over a couple of days or as part of a buffet, it is advisable to buy a few larger pieces. This will both look better and keep better than many small bits.
To help visualise weights, a good tip is to consider that a regular supermarket pat of butter weighs between 200 and 250 grams.
Farmhouse cheese is handmade and thus varies with each day’s production and changes as it matures. As such it is necessary to apply a common sense approach to cheese care and respond to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines. Here are some pointers which will help you to ensure you eat your cheese at its best.
We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. We are happy to provide some extra cheese paper, you can add some to your basket by visiting “accompaniments“. If you wrap your cheese in cling film or foil, it can cause the cheese to sweat which will negatively affect the flavour.
Cut pieces of cheese should be kept in the refrigerator to slow the growth of mould on their cut surfaces. However, it is important to be aware that refrigerated cheese is more likely to dry out, particularly if it is not wrapped. The best option is to keep the cheese wrapped in its waxed paper within a box in the fridge. The container will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and prevent the cheese from absorbing flavours.
It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.