12 Nov 2023
Pant Mawr – Producer of the Month
2 Feb 2022
Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses is a family-run business based in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains in Rosebush, Pembrokeshire.
Their handmade, award-winning cheeses include the creamy Smoked Cerwyn and the distinctive soft cheese Caws Preseli.
After working in Libya and Yemen, where they helped to establish several commercial dairy businesses, David and Cynthia Jennings returned to rural Wales with their two young boys in 1983 and quickly set about launching Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses. David is a first generation farmer, having grown up in a non-farming household and learned his trade at agricultural college. Today his son Jason helps to run the family business.
Over the years their handmade cheeses have been served at the Ryder Cup, on Concorde and British Airways flights, and in London’s oldest and most well-known wine bar, Gordon’s. Soft, mould-ripened Caws Preseli also featured as Waitrose’s special Welsh cheese selection, to celebrate the launch of the Six Nations in 2000.
What’s new for 2022?
‘In 2021 we changed our packaging again to be more sustainable,’ says Jason.
‘Now every Pant Mawr cheese wedge is vacuum-packed in an ocean-friendly, biodegradable, plastic-free eco-pouch. So far we’ve saved over 20,000 plastic bags from landfill, which we’re very pleased about. Over the last 12 months we’ve been selling a lot more individually-wrapped ‘grab-and-go’ cheeses than ever before (versus whole wheels, which used to be 80% of our business), so this packaging switch was really important.
‘We’re also hoping to renovate our onsite shop, to expand the space and improve access to our storeroom. And start shouting about our amazing cheeses a bit more on social media!’
Pant Mawr cheeses
Pant Mawr sells seven varieties of cheese – five made from cow’s milk and two from goat’s milk – all of which are vegetarian. Popular Caws Preseli takes its name from the beautiful Preseli mountain range which sits behind Pant Mawr Farm, and the Oak Smoked Cerwyn is named after the region’s highest point. Creamy Cerwyn is also available in mild and mature variations – the latter is aged for up to six months to achieve its rounded, nutty flavour. Drewi Sant (meaning Smelly Saint) is a mead-washed, brie-like cheese with a fruity tang, while goat’s cheeses Heb Enw and Smoked Heb Enw are smooth and slightly salty.
What to eat and drink with Pant Mawr cheese
‘Preseli is the one you always go back to on the cheese board’ says Jason. He likes to eat it with a good chutney or courgette and pepper relish.
When it comes to cooking, he recommends Caws Cerwyn – it’s a reliable, mild-flavoured cheese, great for using in quiche. Not sure about smoked cheese? Jason has a tip for you: ‘If you find smoked cheese a little too powerful, pair it with a strong cider such as Old Rosie to take the edge off.’
Did you know?
Pant Mawr is famous amongst locals, not only for its fabulous cheeses, but also the giant ‘CAWS’ (Welsh for ‘cheese’) lettering in one of the farm’s fields. The sloping land was too difficult to access with farm machinery, so the family decided to have a bit of fun and spell out ‘caws’ with planted trees instead. 10 years later, the trees are well established – you can even see the unconventional advertisement on Google Maps!
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected Pant Mawr?
‘We lost 90% of our trade overnight’ says Jason. ‘With restaurants shut and people opting to do one big shop at the supermarkets instead of shopping locally, we decided to take a break from producing cheese for five weeks. But luckily for us, orders from The Welsh Cheese Company went up! Our stock’s been up and down – we had too much, then too little – but overall, things have been better than expected and we’re feeling hopeful.’