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Welsh cheese matured 300 feet underground

Pwll Mawr Cheese, matured at the bottom of Big Pit – one of the UK’s leading mining museums - is one of The Blaenafon Cheddar Company’s new selection of handmade cheeses, which will be launched at the company’s new premises in Blaenavon tomorrow (Saturday, 2 December 2006).

The creation of Susan Fiander-Woodhouse, Production Director of The Blaenafon Cheddar Company, Pwll Mawr Cheese is a farmhouse cheddar which is being matured in the traditional way at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ Big Pit. A technique used in the 18th and 19th centuries to develop the taste of cheese, the product is matured naturally in stainless steel caskets at the bottom of the shaft, before being sealed in a velvety black wax.

The first batch of cheese was taken to Big Pit: National Coal Museum at the beginning of November as Mrs Fiander-Woodhouse commented:

“The maturing process is an important part of the science of cheese making and with the temperature at the bottom of Big Pit consistently at 10.9 degrees, it is the ideal environment to develop the flavour of the cheese. The maturing process affects the end result and as we wanted the final outcome to be a success we turned to Big Pit to help us produce a high quality Welsh cheese.”

The Blaenafon Cheddar Company is launching a range of 200g cheddar truckles including Pwll Ddu – a cheddar blended with mustard and leeks from Welsh Lady Pantry and Double Dragon ale; Blaenafon made with Penderyn Welsh Whisky and Welsh Lady Pantry’s Ginger Preserve; Capel Newydd which provides the gentle flavour of white wine from Sugar Loaf Vineyard and Elderflower and garlic from Beacon Foods; the seasonal Christmas Pudding blended with luxury mixed fruits and infused with Black Mountain Liqueur and of course Pwll Mawr – each one promoting some of Blaenavon town’s most popular historic sites.

Peter Walker, Manager of Big Pit said: “Mrs Fiander-Woodhouse approached us with the proposition of maturing the cheddar at the bottom of the shaft – the first request of its kind – as maturing the cheese in a natural climate would add to the taste of the product.

“We are delighted to be in a position to support The Blaenafon Cheddar Company - a welcome addition to the area - and are pleased Mrs Fiander-Woodhouse has dedicated one of her products to us. Cheese makers in Wales have a reputation for producing a wide range of award winning cheeses – and produced in the traditional manner, let us hope Pwll Mawr will be rewarded in the near future.”

Pwll Mawr will be sold at The Blaenafon Cheddar Company’s shop in Blaenavon, which will be officially opened this Saturday by John Rodger MBE, Blaenavon Project Director and Neil Lewis Borough Council Executive, Environment as well as at the shop at Big Pit.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Entry to all the museums is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Date: 1 December 2006
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