Located in Ceredigion in Wales, Gorwydd Caerphilly (pronounced Gor-with) was established in 1996 by Todd Trethowan. Before setting up his business, Todd worked with several leading British cheesemakers over a ten-year period, in particular Chris Duckett who, for many years, was the only farmhouse Caerphilly producer in Britain.
Cheesemaking at Gorwydd is conducted by husband and wife team Maugan and Kim Trethowan. Maugan is Todd's brother and business partner and Kim, a native of New Zealand, is responsible for maturing the cheese. Cheeses are produced by hand with barely any mechanisation.
Named after the town in South Wales where it originated, Caerphilly is a traditional Welsh cheese that first appeared at the beginning of the 19th century. It was initially produced by local farmers for domestic consumption and to utilize surplus milk. However, by the 1830s it began to be sold for additional income as demand for Caerphilly grew.
It became very popular with Welsh miners partly due to its size and thick rind, making it easy to eat with dirty hands in the coal pits . Miners were aware that it provided good nourishment as part of their diet, and it was also believed to be capable of neutralizing some of the toxic substances inhaled at the coal face. Such was its popularity that production of Caerphilly spread to the cheddar farms in Somerset, England. There, the farmers would use Caerphilly to help their cash flow, as the 9 lb. wheels matured much faster than their 50 lb. cheddars.
However, by 1910 farmstead Caerphilly was in decline. Mechanization of cheese production meant that farmers could no longer compete against cheaper cheeses being imported from England and abroad, and most found it easier to sell their milk to other processors. The final death knell for Caerphilly sounded with WWII as a result of war time agricultural policy, from which it never recovered.
Three distinct textures and flavors run through Gorwydd Caerphilly. The rind of the cheese is covered in grey-brown molds, can be quite dense, and has distinctly earthy flavors. Just under the rind, there is a layer (that should never extend more than about one inch into the cheese), where the flavors are of mushrooms. Finally, the center of the cheese is slightly chalky and open with hints of milk and citrus.