After various twists and turns of fate, Shropshire Blue, originally a marketing name for a cows-milk cheese developed in Inverness-shire, is actually being made in the county after which it is called. As well as artisan dairies in Ludlow and Newport it is also made on a rather larger scale in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
Unsurprisingly, given that its 1970s creator learned his craft in making Stilton, Shropshire Blue is reminiscent of that legendary cheese both in its softness and its Penicillium roquefortii veining. Normally matured for 12 weeks, a deeper flavoured and creamier result comes from those left for perhaps double that. The flavour is on the creamy side even with the standard version; nicely nutty, perhaps a touch sharper than Stilton and with a salty tang. It makes a good addition to a cheese board not only for its flavour, but for its distinctive colour, a cheering if chalky orangey-yellow which comes from the vegetable dye annatto. Made with vegetable rennet Shropshire Blue is suitable for vegetarians.
It is normal to serve Shropshire Blue, like Stilton, with say Port or Amontillado, but a full-flavoured bitter or a barley wine suits it equally well. If eaten with a biscuit, no butter please.