Shropshire Blue cheese originated in Scotland in the 1970s by Andy Williamson, who was trained in the making of Stilton. It is a blue cheese made from pasteurized cows' milk and uses vegetable rennet. The orange color comes from the addition of annatto, a natural food coloring. It could be thought of as a cross between Stilton and Cheshire. P. roqueforti produces the veining.
Despite the name, the cheese has nothing to do with the county of Shropshire. It was originally sold as Blue Stuart or Inverness-shire Blue, the latter name from the actual place of its original production. The name Shropshire Blue was chosen for marketing purposes as it appeared better suited to selling it in the British Isles outside Scotland.
In 1980, the Milk Marketing Board of Northern Scotland shut down the creamery, ending production of the cheese, as well as a number of other Scottish cheeses, including Scotland's only blues.
The making of the cheese was undertaken by Cheshire cheesemakers Elliot Hulme and Harry Hanlin along with the help and advice of Charlie Chisholm, who had worked at Williamson's dairy. Cheese from their farm appeared at the Nantwich show in 1980, but production ceased soon afterward.
Production then moved to Nottinghamshire under two companies: Long Clawson Dairy and Colston Bassett Dairy. Since Andy Williamson had learned his cheesemaking in that area, this was in effect a return to its place of origin.
The cheese has a deep orange-brown, natural rind and matures for a period of 10-12 weeks with a fat content of about 34 per cent. Made in a similar way to Stilton, it is a soft cheese with a sharp, strong flavor and a slightly tangy aroma. It is slightly sour but sharper than Stilton and generally creamier.