It’s an old cheese and one that almost died out like so many farmhouse cheeses in the face of large scale industrialised cheese making slurping up all the milk supplies in the 1950’s. Caerphilly was particularly susceptible to industrial takeover as it matures much faster than Cheddar and that made it a perfect contender for a fast cash flow product. Industrially produced Caerphilly was by and large a pretty poor and dry, tasteless, and chalk-like imitation of the original, and not surprisingly most folks went off it pretty quickly and it just slowly and quietly slipped away into obscurity heading for extinction.
Enter the Trethowan’s in 1996 - Todd and his wife Kim, joined later by his brother Maugan. While not Welsh they did have a Welsh grandmother and she had made the traditional Caerphilly many years ago, hence they knew about it and set about bringing back the style of a much more mature and creamier cheese. They set up their dairy at Gorwydd (Gor-with) Farm in Wales and pretty soon where winning awards hand over fist. Caerphilly can be designated as a “territorial” cheese and about 10% of cheeses in the UK are in this category today. No it doesn’t mean that they push all other cheeses off their shelf in the market (although that would put a different spin on the so called “cheese wars” wouldn't it) rather that they are associated with a certain district or place of origin - like "terroir" if you will.
As soon as I saw the Gorwydd Farm cheeses and their awards I knew it had to be good stuff so I bought a wedge from their stall in good old Borough Market. You can probably see from the main photograph that there are 3 distinct layers to the cheese. The centre which has a slight tensile texture and a fresh taste with a hint of lemon. The layer next to the rind is all creamy and buttery, eat a slice including the rind and you get a delicious earthiness to complete the picture.
The Trethowan’s have now moved their dairy to the “West Country” in the UK but their Caerphilly remains every bit as good as the Welsh original.