It’s always great when a client gets good news – especially after a tough year – so huge congratulations to Bath Soft Cheese for getting a coveted 3 Star Great Taste award.
The Bath-based company’s Extra Mature Wyfe of Bath cheese was awarded a 3 Star Great Taste Award in the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards – the largest and most trusted food and drink awards in the world.
Some 12,777 products from 106 different countries were judged over 14 weeks as part of the 2020 awards, which go through a rigorous judging process by the guild before some are awarded one, two or three stars.
Products are put before panels of judges who include chefs, food producers, writers, retailers and other experts from across the sector. Each product is blind tasted by a table of three to four judges, either receiving no star, or one, two or three stars. They are then passed on to another table for a second opinion or to a top table of judges for their final word. The system ensures that each product goes through at least two groups of judges, with those awarded higher numbers of stars scrutinised by even more.
While fewer judges were involved this year to ensure social distancing, the same number of judging layers were applied to maintain the rigorous and robust process and ensure that only the best get the coveted top rating. This year, of the 12,777 products, just 205 were awarded three stars – including Extra Mature Wyfe of Bath.
Matured for over 12 months, the handmade, single-herd, semi-hard cheese takes its name from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as was described by the Great Taste judges as having “fabulous flavour and nutty, fudge notes”.
It’s not the first award to have been scooped by Bath Soft Cheese. Wyfe of Bath won ‘Supreme Champion’ at Nantwich International Cheese Awards in 2019, beating off competition from more than 5,000 other cheeses, while Bath Blue triumphed over nearly 2,600 cheeses from 33 countries to take the top prize at the World Cheese Awards in 2014. With all other contests on hold for 2020, Great Taste are the only awards Bath Soft Cheese entered, which managing director Hugh Padfield said made the company’s latest accolade even more special.
The award comes in a year that saw Bath Soft Cheese Co. face an uncertain future after losing more than 50% of its business when the coronavirus crisis forced restaurants and cafes to close.
The company, based at Kelston, near Bath in Somerset, threw its efforts behind its online business, creating a simple home delivery selection that has proved hugely popular with customers across the country and has helped it thrive despite difficult trading times.
Managing director Hugh Padfield said while the business still faces challenges, the award is a huge boost at a time when things are slowly starting to improve.
“Earlier this year awards were the last thing on our mind, but to be recognised by such esteemed awards and at such a high level really is wonderful,” he said. “The first half of 2020 was very tough for all cheesemakers but after focusing on our online sales they really saved us. The last few months have been much better but we still fear for what is coming next, like everyone else.
“Our Covid-19 precautions mean that all our cheesemakers are having to work really hard and so this news is a really welcome boost; we’re delighted to receive a Three Star Great Taste Award.”
[I actually judge in the Great Taste Awards but since everything is blind judged, I couldn’t tell you whether I’d tried Wyfe of Bath in this year’s judging, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what it was. That’s the beauty of Great Taste. If you want to find out more about how the awards work you can read something I wrote about them here.