Isle of Mull Cheese

Tobermory, Isle of Mull | C.1983

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

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While some visitors may leave the Isle of Mull with the usual souvenir t-shirt or magnet, one family left with a unique purchase—land. In 1979, first-generation farmers Chris and Jeff Reade took their four sons for a holiday on the remote islel. Falling in love with the Scottish Island, Chris and Jeff would make an offer on an abandoned piece of Hebridean soil that was soon accepted, changing the lives of not only the Reade family but the entire island. 

Admiring the quiet and lush landscape on their trip, the Reades found out three months later that an abandoned cottage on the island, Sgriob-ruadh, was up for sale. With their eagerly written proposal accepted by the local owners, the family soon got to work building out the property for even more immigrants to the small island: cows. Noticing that Mull had no local dairy options, Chris and Jeff decided to become the island’s only dairy farm – a title they still hold today. While they ended up providing locals with fresh milk all the way up until 2000, it was the milk by-product, cheese, that would become the farm’s top crop. 

Fed on island grass and whiskey grain from the local Tobermory distillery, the Reade family cows are calved and milked all year, providing ample supply for fine cheese making. Their farm lovingly crafts two different types of cheese truckles (a fancy word for a wheel of cheese): the Isle of Mull farmhouse, and the Hebridean blue cheese. Wishing to preserve the many different types of bacteria that affect the flavor and process of both kinds of cheese, the farm leaves the milk unpasteurized, creating fully organic products packed with local flavor. Recognizing the importance of sustainability, the farm is actually close to becoming a zero-waste production, with plans soon to be in place to make the leftover whey from its cheesemaking into a “Whey-Sky” liquor.

Though management has now passed down to Chris and Jeff’s children, the Reade family continues to provide the Isle of Mull, and customers further afield, with fresh cheese. Presently using over 140 cows, the farm delights locals and visitors alike with its Glass Barn Cafe, offering cheese and wine pairings with gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape. Successfully running a dairy farm for over 40 years and counting, there appears to be magic in the milk of Mull. Sorry if that was cheesy. 

:memo: Written by: Seamus McMahon

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