Dunlop Cheese, Ayrshire and Arran

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Scotland is more famous for the beef from its cattle than the cheese from their milk, but one traditional hard cheese that flourished for a century and more in Ayrshire has been revived there and should be celebrated. What a pity that the textural connotations of its name Dunlop give it a bit of a handicap in the marketing stakes.
The cheese was developed by the pioneering Barbara Gilmour in the 18th century, using whole milk that was moulded (and turned frequently), and matured for at least six months. It is said that the use of mineral rich salt from Saltcoats in North Ayrshire gave the cheese a depth of flavour others from south of the border lacked. When Gilmour originated the cheese transport routes in Scotland were poor, favouring the keeping properties of such cheeses over the milk they were made from. When the railways and better roads were built the product went into a decline.
Dunlop is being made again in Stewarton in East Ayrshire, with other versions crafted elsewhere in Scotland including Islay. Though designated as a hard cheese at six months it is on the moist side, a more interesting mouthful than the younger cheddars that are the nearest in form to it, buttery rather than sharp, yellow in hue as the flavour might suggest.
When Dr Johnson praised the Scottish breakfast perhaps he had in mind experiences of eating Dunlop or similar cheese melted by the fire and spread on the oatcakes he learned to enjoy if not love, as this was a common way of breaking the fast in country districts like Ayrshire when he explored the Highlands and Islands.

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Battle of Nechtansmere - 0685, Major Earthquake Damages Canterbury Cathedral - 1382, Treaty of Troyes - 1420, Cooper Floors Ali - 1966, Cutty Sark Ablaze - 2007
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