I first came across Stinking Bishop in the mid-1990’s which must have been fairly soon after its launch. I was the Sommelier at a Michelin Starred restaurant and we had an all English cheese basket so I was fortunate to become familiar with a wide range of cheeses from a young age. Stinking Bishop and Colston Basset Stilton were my favourites so am very happy to have recently taken a few minutes of Charles time to ask a handful of questions:-
Did you set out to make the UK’s smelliest cheese?
I didn’t set out to make the UK’s smelliest cheese. I wanted just to produce a monastic type of cheese which was introduced to this country by monks and nuns in the 13th Century. Over time our cheese makers had forgotten about this type of soft cheese until quite recently.
What makes it so smelly and why is to so much more so than other cheeses?
In common with other soft washed rind cheeses we start off with a culture of Brevibacterium linens and subsequently wash it in perry. However, what makes it smellier than other cheeses of this type? I’m not telling!
At what age is it perfectly enjoyed and at what sort of temperature?
It doesn’t work to a rule book. It’s ready when it’s ready. Usually about a month old. It is quite a stable cheese but you really want to get on and eat it as its smell is so pervasive. It’s a mildish cheese but if you want more flavour, then eat the rind which is much more intense. Room temperature.
What would you drink to accompany it?
Some accompany it with a mug of hot water, or black tea. I prefer it with a tomato fresh from the garden. Classically, you could try a glass of Poireau from our distillery. At 20% abv this drink won’t knock you over, it’s a bit like sherry and the slight sweetness seems to fit well with the mild flavour of the cheese.
Do you prefer it with biscuits or bread and why?
I never eat cheese with bread or biscuits, for me it detracts from the flavour.