A creamery co-op has found the perfect way to celebrate its 80th anniversary by launching a new cheese laced with an iconic Welsh whisky.
The new special occasion cheese made by cheddar experts South Caernarfon Creameries is aged in the Llechwedd slate caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog, before being infused with the award-winning Penderyn whisky.
The unveiling of the new luxury cheese with a kick at the Royal Welsh Show is part of an exciting re-brand of the much-loved range of Dragon cheeses made by SCC, which employs 130 staff at its base near Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula.
New packaging for the Dragon range of cheeses is also on show at SCC’s stand at the Royal Welsh, featuring brighter colours and a crisper, more modern version of the brand’s distinctive Welsh Dragon logo.
The fresh new design raises awareness of the high quality and provenance of Dragon cheese, which is made using milk sourced 100% from its Welsh farming members, and every block can be traced back to the cow.
The new packaging features a quality mark on all of the cheeses, from mild in a creamy yellow packaging, mature in a bold Welsh red, and black for the vintage varieties.
A map shows customers the area where their cheese is sourced from in North Wales, and a slogan reads: “Welsh milk from Welsh cows fed in the lush green pastures of Wales”.
“Our customers really value that the cheese is made in Wales and we are supporting the farming community. We are looking forward to sharing what makes Dragon cheese so special in the coming months,” said Emma Knight marketing manager for SCC and the Dragon brand.
The Dragon brand’s new 80th anniversary Llechwedd cavern aged cheddar made with Penderyn whisky is a luxury product, perfect for special occasions, said SCC managing director Alan Wyn Jones.
“We knew whisky would work well in our cheese,” said Alan. “We wanted a cheese that was celebratory to mark South Caernarfon Creameries’ 80th year and the re-brand of the Dragon cheese range.
“The heritage and the provenance of our products here in Wales is very important to us so we wanted to use a Welsh whisky and of course Penderyn was the natural choice, especially as they are opening a new site in North Wales.
“It’s a perfect pairing which we’re delighted to launch simultaneously at the Royal Welsh Show and Nantwich Show, two of the UK’s most prestigious farming and food events, both happening this week.”
The new celebratory cheese is made with Dragon’s premium Llechwedd slate caverns cheddar, suffused with Penderyn’s Madeira Finish whisky, which is aged in ex-bourbon barrels finished in madeira wine casks.
“We chose Penderyn’s madeira finish as it has a slightly sweeter flavour which really complements the Llechwedd aged cheese, said Alan.
As with all of SCC’s cheeses, it is first made at the co-operative’s base near Pwllheli, where it is still salted by hand using traditional methods.
Once aged 11 months, it is taken to the depths of the Llechwedd slate caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, where it is matured for a further three months.
Maturing cheese in slate caverns is a method which has been used in France for hundreds of years, to achieve a firmer body and depth of flavour with rich savoury notes.
The Llechwedd slate cavern aged cheddar is then infused with Penderyn whisky before being shaped by hand and packaged.
“This is a luxury cheese, at the premium end of our product range,” said Alan. “It will appeal to cheese lovers who appreciate a mature, complex flavour.”
The Llechwedd cavern aged cheddar made with Penderyn whisky will be in stock soon at the Llechwedd slate caverns, and selected local shops across Wales.
The full range of dragon cheeses are being sampled at SCC’s stand in the Royal Welsh this week, where and the company is hosting the main main sponsors’ lunch.
The Dragon range is also being showcased at the Nantwich Show, where SCC is among the main sponsors of the prestigious International Cheese Awards.
It follows a record-breaking year for SCC after sales hit £45.1 million in 2017/18.
The co-operative has launched a recruitment drive for new farming members to supply milk. There are currently 125 supplying members and SCC remains Wales’ leading farmer-owned co-operative.
South Caernarfon Creameries was established in 1938 by 63 local farmers.
By 1954, the number of farmer suppliers had grown to 1,200 and five years later the creamery began making cheese, sold as “Caws Llyn”.
Over the last four years SCC has invested £12 million in a state-of-the-art cheese production facility as well as redevelopment of their cheese packing plant.
The creamery, which processes more than 100m litres of Welsh milk each year, still occupies its original site at Rhydygwystl, near Chwilog.
The location was carefully chosen on the border between Llyn and Eifionydd, two areas renowned for their Gulf Stream-warmed lush grass.
Dragon brand cheeses made by South Caernarfon Creameries range from Mild Cheddar to a full-bodied Vintage Special Reserve Cheddar.
A whole host of the co-op’s cheese has been recognised and scooped top awards at the British Cheese Awards, World Cheese Awards, International Cheese Awards and Global Cheese Awards and many others.
To find out more about South Caernarfon Creameries visit www.sccwales.co.uk You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.