In 1993, quotas was imposed on milk production and this forced Eckhard Leicher from La Montanara to look for a new way of selling the surplus milk. He attended a cheese making course and started making cheese on a small-scale. In 1999, the cheesery was upgraded and today the cheese making business has taken over from farming.
La Montanara is situated at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, between Ashton and Swellendam. This region, has a micro climate ideally suited for dairy-farming.
In 2012 he entered the inaugural Woolworths Cheese Makers challenge. Woolworths challanged small local cheese makers to create a new cheese to tempt local taste buds. Eckhard submitted a semi-hard Dutch Maasdamer made with cow’s milk which he named the Royal Ashton and won.
The Royal Ashton cheese is aged, which gives it a nutty and sweet flavour with a pleasant bite. It is a creamy, medium fat hard cheese and it is delicious. It has a robust taste with a soft buttery finish.
La Montanara produces a wide range of cheeses including Danish-style feta, traditional feta, haloumi and pecorino. The Royal Ashton cheese is sold exclusively at Woolworths.
Royal Ashton & whisky paring
Scottish Leader Original & Royal Ashton cheese pairing
This cheese has quite a robust flavour and the first pairing I tried was with the smoky Scottish Leader Original. The flavour profile of the cheese changed quite a bit with the Scottish Leader and tasted very similar to a mozzarella cheese. The cheese softened the smoke in the Scottish Leader Original and increased the toffee sweetness. This is a nice pairing which I gave a RATING: 3,5/5.
Balblair 2000 & Royal Ashton cheese pairing
I was expecting the sweetness of the Balblair Highland Single Malt 2000 release to balance with the sweet notes in the cheese, however the strong cheese taste over whelmed the honey and floral notes in the beautiful dram. You barely tasted the whisky when paired with the Royal Ashton. I have this pairing a RATING: 2/5.
Scottish Cousin 12 yo & Royal Ashton cheese pairing
I loved the Scottish Cousin whisky released by the Four Cousins and was keen to try it with cheese. The pairing with the Royal Ashton worked really well and created a sweet, smooth rich vanilla, creamy dreamy combination. The two elements enhanced each other and just made for a yummy pair. I give the Scottish Cousin 12 yo and Royal Ashton cheese pairing a RATING: 4/5.
Crown Royal Rye & Royal Ashton Cheese pairing
On a whim I decided to grab the Crown Royal Rye. I was not really expecting much from this pairing, the bottle was on the table, so just to fill up the tasting, I grabbed it. O my, was I pleasantly surprised. It made for another really great pairing. The Crown Royal Rye was robust enough to stand up to the Royal Ashton and together these two Royals created a great combination. As a result, I give the Crown Royal Rye and the Royal Ashton cheese pairing a RATING: 4/5.
This is really a delicious cheese. Although it’s quite pungent, it is not overwhelmingly so. According to La Montanara, the cheese works well on roasted vegetable pizza finished off with shavings of Royal Ashton. It’s also great in cheese soufflé and on sandwiches. It pairs wonderfully with fig preserve, where the sweetness of the figs balances the sharpness of the cheese.
Also Read: Whisky and Roydon Camembert Cheese pairing