Twenty-eight British cheese producers walked away with gold medals at last week's World Cheese Awards in Gran Canaria.
Two of these were named among the 10 best in the world, with Saint Giles, an organic cow's milk cheese produced by High Weald Dairy in East Sussex, awarded fifth place out of nearly 2,500 entries in the world's largest cheese competition, which was organised by the UK's Guild of Fine Food.
Blue Stilton from Long Clawson Dairy in Leicestershire came ninth and picked up a total of four gold medals, closely followed by another Stilton producer, Quenby Hall, which took three.
This year's World Champion was a Canadian goat's milk cheese, Le Cendrillon, from La Maison Alexis de Portneuf in Quebec.
The annual competition was staged this year in Las Palmas on 1 October as part of a three-day cheese festival. It was only the second time the awards have been held outside Britain in their 21-year history, and the competition attracted cheeses from 34 countries.
Over 150 judges from 24 nations, including Mexico, South Africa, Japan and Australia sampled 2,440 entries in a marathon tasting session before agreeing on the bronze, silver and gold winners. Around 140 gold medals were awarded and each of these cheeses was tasted for a second time by an international jury of 13 experts before the main trophy winners were named.
Guild of Fine Food national director Bob Farrand said: "This was the most international team of judges ever assembled, with representatives from four continents involved in choosing the World Champion. It's the largest and most cosmopolitan cheese awards scheme on the planet."
This year's awards formed part of a wider global event organised by the Guild of Fine Food, including an international cheese conference and the World Cheese Festival, an exhibition of cheese and wine for both trade and consumers.
By Rosie Birkett
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