10 July 1998

Picking the big cheese among big cheeses…

SAY cheese. But not to Douglas Irvine. Say mature, extra mature, fresh young, semi-soft and soft white – for Douglas is a man devoted to cheese.

Cheese is both his passion and his business. As managing director of Scotlands leading cheese manufacturer. A McLelland and Son, Douglas knows his subject. Who better to introduce the Royal Highlands first Cheese Pavilion?

"Theres been a cheese show at the Highland for more than 30 years," explains Douglas. "But we decided to make it bigger and better by opening a dedicated pavilion to house the competition."

As well as selecting winners for the 12 classes the seven judges had the even more difficult task of selecting the cheese of cheeses – one worthy of the accolade Royal Highland Show Supreme Champion Cheese.

Top honour this year fell to Orkney; a mature cheddar from the island that gave the cheese its name. Produced by Clay-more Dairies, Nairn, judges praised it for its uniform colour, smooth skin and superior taste.

The companys chief executive Ian Larg explains why he believes Orkney was placed top of the cheese board this year. "Using only milk from Orkneys 30 dairy farms, we manufacture cheese using the dry stir method," he explains. "That allows us to produce a close-knit, deep textured cheese which we mature slowly over 12 months."

The company, which manufactures 1500t of cheese each year from the 16m litres produced on the islands 30 dairy farms, is no stranger to competition success. "Our cheeses have been winning prizes for 10 years," says Ian.