On Monday, I went to meet the buying team of a £70m turnover Derbyshire based customer, to showcase nine (out of thirteen) of our cheeses – cheeses that we make ourselves, along with a small range of our new chutneys and Jonathan and Jenny’s bottled goat milk.
This was the first time that I have presented almost the entire range of cheeses that we make ourselves and it was a great feeling to see the range of very different styles of cheese that we now make – all with local milk.
In the four years since I took over the business, this was the first time I sensed how far we’ve moved from being wholesalers of a brand created by my uncle back in 1978 to winning awards for our cheese. It helped that our customer has a beautiful cheese tasting room, complete with marble platters on which to display our cheese. Even so, I felt a huge amount of pride at what we have achieved and also for us as a team – Stu, Lydia and me.
I presented alongside my friend Jacqui who helps us with our sales and marketing, to the entire buying team. The stars of the show were our new Yorkshire Gouda, described as fresh and creamy, which they also massively preferred over our Superior Goat. They also really liked our new Natural Rinded Matured Goat, our new Natural Rinded Matured Wensleydale and Smoked Original Goat, oh and the Goat Cheddar. We smoke all of our own cheese in our little AFOS smoker that we bought back in 2007 from McKenzies Smokehouse.
On the chutney front, we took five chutneys with us and the buyers took away the rest of the sweet chilli jam, the tomato and chilli and the caramelised red onion chutney to show to their customer’s buyers.
The Hackfall goat milk went down really well, and whilst even the most resistant buyer to goat milk liked it, they do not have customers who stock it, which is a huge shame. This is the milk that we make all of our goat cheese from. I shall pursue this because they all said that it didn’t taste like goat milk, which it doesn’t, it is sweet, fresh and nutty and that it was lovely. It is far, far better than any goat milk that you can buy in a supermarket.
Tasting Notes on seven of our cheeses from our customer, I didn’t write down all of them cos I got a bit carried away. These are the buyer’s comments:
Ribblesdale Yorkshire Gouda – clean, fresh and very creamy; far nicer than our Superior goat, (a sample of which I took with me) and is also a gouda but not a cheese that we make; Richard said that comparing our Yorkshire Gouda made with local milk with our bought in Superior goat was like comparing butter with margarine. When I got back to work, I told the guys this and they thought it was a really good comment. The Yorkshire Gouda is good at 6 weeks onwards. We are thinking about phasing out the Superior Goat and replacing it with our Yorkshire Gouda.
Ribblesdale Natural Rinded Matured Goat
– not goaty, really nice mouth texture, well made (thank you!) This cheese is bandaged in traditional cloth binders when it is taken out of the press and matured for four months.
Original Goat – falls part way between the Yorkshire Gouda and the Natural Rinded Matured Goat, nicely crumbly and Wensleydale like (it is a Wensleydale style cheese); good flavour but not at all goaty (Booths take this). This cheese is ready at two months and onwards.
Crumbly Goat – a bit acidic, ‘furry’ (well, you can’t win them all!)
Goat Cheddar – very nice, a bit like Goat Gruyère, quite strong and ‘goatier’. This is about two years old.
Matured Natural Rinded Wensleydale – a little bit like a farmhouse taste, but very nice, good rind, not too thick and very creamy. This cheese is bandaged in traditional cloth binders when it is taken out of the press and matured for four months.
Smoked Original Goat
– really good, subtle flavour, very nicely smoked, not overpowering, can still taste the cheese – really good. we were told that there is a lot of interest in smoked cheeses at the moment, which is good for us as we smoke a lot of our cheese for customers
So all in all, a great day, great hospitality, a fab buying team who asked some very pertinent and good questions. I explained how we make our gouda and how different a process it is to ‘normal’ cheese making.
I was especially chuffed when one of the directors said that we had made two new and unique cheeses – the Naturally Rinded Matured Goat cheese and our Yorkshire Gouda.
I really enjoyed it and hope that our customer enjoyed seeing and tasting the range of cheese that we now make ourselves. Let’s see if we can persuade our customer to take some of our new products and target their larger accounts with it. We shall see!