Value for Money


Lidl Fresh Meadow Organic Mature Cheddar

€2.69 for 250g, €10.76 per kg

Highs: This was the first cheese we tried and our snobby subconscious assumed it would be bettered by the more expensive rivals. But, as each of them came and went, we realised that this was as good as, if not better than, many of the cheeses tried – apart from the most upmarket alternatives. While we’re not sure its organic nature made any difference to the taste – actually we’re pretty sure it didn’t – it did give the produce added feel-good factor, which is always welcome. It is quite a mild cheese.

Lows: But mild really wasn’t what we were looking for with a mature cheddar, and we would have liked just a little more bite.

Verdict: Good value

Star rating: * * * *

Cracker Barrel

€3.15 for 200g, €15.75 per kg

Highs: Made by Kraft, this is a well-known and widely available brand. It is oddly shaped, although its narrow rectangular profile might make it handy for a cracker. Kraft suggest we enjoy it with a glass of wine or port.

Lows: That suggestion seemed wildly optimistic to us, unless they are proposing we take a time machine to the 1970s where a cheddar reminiscent of Calvita would have been the height of elegance, going nicely with a bottle of Piat D’or. It has a soapy texture and apart from a sharp sourness, we thought the flavours were one-dimensional. What makers described as smooth we found dull. It also lost points because it was the only cheese we reviewed with an e-number, preservative e-202 – or potassium sorbate. The price was a bit ridiculous given its mass-produced nature.

Verdict: A long way from nice

Star rating: * *

Traditional Cheese Company Mature White Cheddar

€3 for 200g, €15 per kg

Highs:This is a fairly strong-flavoured cheese which would find a happy home in the most upmarket of cheese sandwiches. It has a complexity of flavours that we found lacking in some of the competition. It has a pleasant sweetness which complements its cheddary tang, and the salty aftertaste gives it a bit of a kick without overpowering the rest of the flavours. It’s also nice and crumbly and made by a small producer.

Lows: While it is by no means horrendously expensive, it is dearer than most of the competition. Availability might also be a problem – we sourced it in Fallon Byrne in Dublin, but finding it in your local corner shop might be more difficult.

Verdict: Lovely

Star rating: * * * *

Mount Callan Cheddar

€12.93 for 470g, €27.50 per kg

Highs: Blessed are the cheesemakers – one of the nicest things about this cheese was the actual buying of it. We found it in Sheridans Cheesemongers on Dublin’s South Anne Street, a shop that we’d be happy to spend an afternoon in savouring the intoxicating smells from Europe. It is also filled with all manner of intoxicating ways to spend money. This Clare cheddar must rank with the best of the cheeses Sheridan’s has – it is certainly the best we reviewed on this occasion. It is very strong and full of flavours that linger long on the palate. It really is in a league of its own.

Lows: It is also in a price league of its own compared to the other products tried and is the kind of cheese that you’d have to eat on its own, as it might be wasted on a simple sandwich.

Verdict: Pricey but still the best

Star rating: * * * * *

Marks & Spencer Wexford Vintage Black Wax Cheddar

€4.59 for 200g, €22.95 per kg

Highs: This little round of wax-covered cheddar puts the most effort into the first impression, and it will certainly look good on a cheese board. It tastes pleasant enough without being stunning.

Lows: We were a little bit disappointed by this because we had expected it to be stronger than it turned out. It is undoubtedly expensive and we reckon it’d be better to save your pennies and invest in the far superior Mount Callan option. The presentation and packaging which, admittedly, is part of its appeal, is also a bit of a pain.

Verdict: Nothing special

Star rating: * * *