Located about 20 miles from the town of Cheddar in the lush dairy country of Somerset, the Montgomery family are third generation farmers at Manor Farm. When Jamie Montgomery's grandfather moved there in 1911, cheese production was already in progress and had been taking place for many years.
Made from raw cow's milk, Montgomery's cheddar is produced to a very traditional recipe and, for many, has become the "benchmark" English farmhouse cheddar.
Cheeses are made with milk sourced from the farm's Friesian-Holstein cows. Before joining the main herd, the young cows roam the fields of South Cadbury, long credited with being the site of the true "Camelot".
Cheese is made every day to ensure the freshness of the milk, which is vital because it is not heat-treated before use. The starter cultures used for production are the same strains that were used when the family started cheesemaking 70 years ago. Although the cultures are difficult to handle, producing a wide range of flavors, they also possess a great deal of the characteristics, that have become synonymous with Montgomery's cheddar.
As well as being one of the few cheddar makers that still use calf rennet (the traditional source of the enzyme) to start the formation of the curd, Montgomery's are also possibly the only cheddar producer still using an old, slow, peg mill that produces the unique fissuring and brittleness in the texture of the cheese.
Montgomery's cheddars are usually matured for between 12 and 14 months before release. At this stage, flavors are rich, meaty and robust with sweet - almost caramelized - fruity notes. The occasional wheel presents itself as being suited to aging for 18 months, when the texture is slightly drier and flavors become sweeter and reminiscent of nuts.
At culture, we love this cheese alongside an IPA or an English cider. Madame Fromage recommends pairing it with a Scotch-based Mark Twain cocktail.