Stinking Bishop is a soft, washed rind cheese that has been produced since 1972 by Charles Martell and Son at Laurel Farm, Dymock, England. Cheeses are made from the milk of Gloucester cattle, a rare breed, which, in 1972, consisted of only 68 Gloucester heifers. The breed has been revived to make production of the cheese possible, though their milk is sometimes combined and pasteurized with the milk of Fresian cattle from a nearby county.
Stinking Bishop is based on a very old recipe for a washed rind cheese, made by Cistercian monks on Charles's own land. Charles's recipe uses perry cider to wash the cheeses, giving them their distinctive aroma.
The color of the paste ranges from white-yellow to beige, with an orange to grey rind. It is formed into wheels of about 5lbs. in weight, eight inches in diameter, and two inches deep. Though only about 1,000lbs is produced each year, Stinking Bishop's notorious odor, which is said to be similar to unwashed socks and wet towels, keeps it popular in the United Kingdom and abroad.
To increase the moisture content and to encourage bacterial activity, salt is not added until the cheese is removed from its mold. Air bubbles form in the mold, giving the finished cheese an Emmental-like appearance when sliced.
The distinctive aroma comes from the process with which the cheese is washed during its ripening; it is immersed in perry cider, made from the local Stinking Bishop pear, every four weeks while it matures.
As with the French cheese époisses de Bourgogne, the aroma of Stinking Bishop is frequently found offensive.