We first discovered the excellence of Scottish cheeses during a golf trip to the Isle of Mull, which, our Scottish friends insisted, has one of the best nine-hole courses in the world. As beautiful as it was challenging, Tobermory was very much worth the journey.
But the most lasting impression during this trip was made, quite unexpectedly, by the Isle of Mull cheddar we tasted at lunch. This ivory-colored example, made from locally produced unpasteurized milk, was something really special, with its compact texture and intriguing array of flavors, ranging from mustard to beef bouillon to amber spirits. On returning to Edinburgh, we asked around for the name of the city’s best cheesemonger so we could take some home (the USDA has no quarrel with bringing in hard cheeses). I. J. Mellis was the unanimous recommendation, which is how we ended up visiting this snug shop on Victoria Street.
Mellis originally worked for the North of Scotland Milk Marketing Board as a laboratory technician and then moved on to become a cheesemaker in Orkney. He followed up this debut experience in the world of cheese by heading to Cheshire in England, where he was head cheesemaker at a dairy for seven years. He returned to Scotland in 1993 and founded his shop.