With its rich, slightly boozy flavour and fascinating provenance, Isle of Mull Cheddar has long been a staple of Cuculo’s counters. In September 2021, Mull Cheddar was our Cheese of the Month.
We made use of the occasion to talk to Lily Reade about her family’s connection to the cheese, the dairy, and the island.
Cheesemaking on Mull is the sole preserve of Isle of Mull Cheese at Sgriob-Ruadh Farm. The Reade family have been calling this beautiful, windswept Scottish island home for three generations. Back in 1979, when they moved from Somerset, Sgriob-Ruadh was little more than a pile of stones inhabited by ghosts of the past. Jeff, Chris and their sons breathed life into the buildings and set up a dairy and a family home. Locals may have had some doubts over their ambitions, but none were evident. Instead – support, help and encouragement were always there.
Cheesemaking on Mull started over 40 years ago, with the farmhouse Isle of Mull Cheddar. This unpasteurised cheese has a dense, punchy, savoury, boozy flavour and sells very well all over the UK. The Hebridean Blue began production ten years ago. It tends only to be found in Scotland.
“Small island challenges are at the heart of life at Sgriob-Ruadh.
“The isolation ensures that innovation and experimentation are part of daily life. So, if something breaks down or needs fixing on the farm, usually Dad (Brendan) will repair it. Being cut off from the mainland creates an island mentality of self–sufficiency. As a result, we have tried to build this into the sustainability of the farm.
“We make our own silage and use 100% renewable energy sources like our own hydro, wind and wood chip,” .Lily Reade
The business also has a stunning Café called The Glass Barn. This imaginative repurposing of the village hall – reconstructed on the farm – is now complete with a twenty-seven-year-old vine and plants inside. As a result, the farm can serve their own pork, cheese, preserves, jams, cakes and the Island Bakery biscuits made by another family member who has started an organic bakery on Mull.
After that – and not unsurprisingly – the story doesn’t end here. The next project is a distillery that will distill the whey left over from the cheesemaking. This will see them producing their own highly unusual spirit. Watch this space.
Additionally, we hope to be able to source some of the elusive Hebridean Blue for later this year.