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13 best Christmas cheese hampers: Satisfy your cravings with artisan produce

From cheddar to stilton and Wensleydale and brie, indulge in one of these festive foodie selections

Bess Browning
Friday 05 November 2021 08:25
<p>We considered packaging, aesthetics, value for money and of course, how they tasted  </p>

We considered packaging, aesthetics, value for money and of course, how they tasted

We believe the finale of every Christmas Day should always be a rich and eclectic selection of cheese. It’s that moment you think you have peaked in overindulgence, but the cheese board arrives and your senses suddenly reload.

And what could make this moment more special than unwrapping a Christmas hamper, teeming with specially selected cheeses and accompaniments. While it’s a fantastic buy for yourself this festive season, they also make a superb present – one that is sure not to be regifted and hopefully you can be a part of the sampling.

We have sourced the very best hampers to make sure your cheesy cravings are met. We were looking for a carefully curated ensemble of cheese – some creamy, others hard, some stronger flavours, some lighter. We wanted that sensory overload – ignited by not just the flavours but the textures and aromas – that only a fine cheese board can summon.

Most of the hampers include condiments to compliment the cheese, alongside crackers – mainly Peter’s Yard sourdough crackers – and in some cases, a bottle of wine to swig while enjoying the foodie delights. We were looking for a well-thought-out synergy of the key components – the right chutneys and crackers to pair with the cheeses.

There are hundreds of cheese hampers on the market at various price points, and while some of the more luxurious boxes are more suitable for bigger budgets, you don’t necessarily need to splash out; as such, we have made sure to include something for every bank balance.

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How we tested

We were guided by each individual hamper on how we tasted. If the cheeses arrived with chutney and crackers, that’s how we sampled. We were also testing the aesthetics of each hamper, considering how likely we were to buy it based on its initial appearance – especially if we were thinking of purchasing it for a gift.

The best Christmas cheese hampers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Sharpham showcase Christmas hamper: £125,
  • Best for fine food – Macknade Christmas cheese board: £90,
  • Best for championing local produce – Morton’s East Anglian cheese hamper: £47.50
  • Best for freshness – Panzer’s cheese feast hamper. £65,
  • Best for beer drinkers – Black Sheep Brewery the deluxe cheese board hamper: £84.95,
  • Best small hamper – Moonpig’s cheese lovers hamper: £45,
  • Best for homemade – Dukeshill cheese lover’s hamper: £74,
  • Best for Christmas snacks – Fortnum & Mason the savoury selection hamper: £130,
  • Best for cheddar lovers – Wykes Farm luxury west country hamper: £80,
  • Best postal present – Letterbox Hampers festive cheese and port letterbox hamper: £32.95,
  • Best for Welsh cheese –Welsh Cheese Company Welsh wine and cheese connoisseur’s hamper:  £79.40
  • Best looking hamper – The Courtyard Dairy huntsman hamper: £130,
  • Best for Wensleydale – Wensleydale creamery iconic Wensleydale hamper: £45,
  • Best for cheese connoisseurs - Paxton & Whitfield discovery cheese collection: £65,

Sharpham showcase Christmas hamper

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Sharpham dairy farm and vineyard has made the absolute most of the epic combination that is wine and cheese. Based on the River Dart in Devon, it has been experimenting, producing and perfecting its offering for the past 35 years. So, it comes as no surprise that its Christmas hamper strikes gold. Packed inside the wicker hamper are huge slabs of its handmade cheeses, all produced from Jersey cattle and incredibly generous portions. We adored the rustic chive and garlic, but there was also a brie and a goats’ cheese.

There is not one but three bottles of wine – Dart Valley reserve, pinot noir rose and an award-winning pinot noir which was divine. And it’s not just the wine and cheese which is made at Sharpham. It has chucked in two of its homemade chutneys too (the fig and pinot noir chutney is like Christmas in a jar), alongside Peter’s Yard sourdough crackers. We thought this was excellent value for the quality and quantity of products.

Macknade Christmas cheese board

Best: For fine food

Rating: 9/10

Macknade food hall in Faversham, Kent, is a wonderland of artisan products, fresh fruit and vegetables and a deli brimming with quality meats and cheeses. To top it off, it now has its own wine shop showcasing both Kentish wine and bottles from across the world. Its expertise in fine food and wine dates back to 1847 so they know a little something about satisfying taste buds. Can’t make it to Faversham? No problem. You can buy a small amount of its offering online, including its hampers.

We tried out the Macknade Christmas cheese board and were blown away by the produce. The hamper comes with Mont D’or, a beautifully fall-off-spoon creamy cheese perfect for dipping croutons or crackers in. Then, you’ve got a Montomery’s cheddar, Monte Enebro and a superb stilton. Combined with pickled walnuts, quincy jelly, Fine Cheese Company crackers, salami and pickled walnuts, every mouthful was exquisite. Perfected with a bottle of port, this is Christmas in a box.

Morton’s East Anglian cheese hamper

Best: For championing local product

Rating: 8/10

Morton’s Family Farm champions local produce and the importance of the community and its East Anglian cheese hamper is showcasing exactly that. It has teamed up with the best cheese producers in East Anglia and the selection is mouth-watering. The Norfolk dapple is sublime, with a nutty, creamy flavour. There’s a Lincolnshire Poacher, Mrs Temple’s Binham blue and Baron Bigod. Keeping it simple, the cheeses are accompanied by Bungaw raw butter, Peter’s Yard original sourdough crispbreads and a jar of Candi’s chutney Norfolk crier onion marmalade.

Panzer’s cheese feast hamper

Best: For freshness

Rating: 9/10

Unwrapping the dark green and pink ribbon on this bountiful box, we were delighted to see fresh grapes and figs, something which none of the other hampers supplied. Beautifully presented, you could sense how this box had been intricately put together from its deli just hours before, which instantly made for a personalised and unique experience. The cheese selection was flawless – pecorino, Dorstone, Tomme de savoie and Colston Bassett stilton. Paired with a full-bodied red, the domaine andre colonge et fils beaujolais villages, Peter’s Yard sourdough crackers and Panzer’s very own quince jelly, you are set for Christmas.

Black Sheep Brewery the deluxe cheese board hamper

Best: For beer drinkers

Rating: 8/10

If you would rather pair your cheeses with a beer, instead of a wine, this is an option for you. Black Sheeps’ award-winning beers, blitzen and riggwelter, were a standout companion to the Wensleydale, cranberry Wensleydale, pricot Wensleydale and Fountains riggwelter cheddar included in this hamper. What sets this one apart is the box of four different cheese knives and branded wooden board, a wonderful gift this Christmas.

We loved the cheese biscuits in this hamper, which could easily be nibbled on their own or with a slice of Wensleydale, carved off with one of the intricate cheese knives, and a dollop of fruity chutney from Masham, also inside. This hamper came in a stylish black box, with the inscription of the definition of a black sheep – “An outcast: A person who behaves differently and is not afraid to stand out” – a very cool touch.

Moonpig cheese lovers wicker hamper

Best: Small hamper

Rating: 7/10

You perhaps wouldn’t usually put Moonpig and cheese in the same sentence but while you’re sorting out your Christmas cards, it’s worth chucking one of these in your basket too. This hamper was one of the smaller ones we sampled but the box would be great to re-use on a picnic and it’s true that good things do often arrive in small packages.

The hamper has everything you need for a cracking cheese board – minus the cheese! It comes with its very own little wooden cheese board and Deli & Co knives, Deli & Co pork liver pate, Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbreads and Tiptree Ploughman’s plum chutney – one of the best chutneys we tried. To soak it all up, there’s a small bottle of merlot too.

Dukeshill cheese lover’s hamper

Best: For homemade

Rating: 9/10

World famous deli, Dukeshill offers a wide range of different hampers and each one boasts a little luxury. We adored this basket with its cream cotton interior and thick, brown leather straps. And inside the hamper was just as pleasing. Every item is made in-house including the damson fruit cheese chutney and the absolutely scrumptious pistachio and parmesan sables which we would highly recommend for Christmas nibbles. The cheeses inside are Isle of Mull cheddar, a delicious brie called baron bigod, a goats called ragstone and Cote Hill Blue. It is worth having a shop around Dukeshill this Christmas as they’re famous for its meats.

Fortnum & Mason the savoury selection hamper

Best: For Christmas snacks

Rating: 9/10

Fortnum & Mason is known far and wide as royalty when it comes to hampers. It does a wide range of Christmas boxes, with prices soaring to the thousands for most extravagant offering. The savoury selection hamper offers every single cheese accompaniment you can imagine, while the hamper itself, with the signature F&M branding, is a beauty. Inside, there’s cheese straws, a vegan mushroom pate, damson blackberry and apple chutney, garlic and chilli mixed nuts, almond stuffed olives, pickled silverskin onions, beetroot crackers, fig paste, piccalilli, all produced by F&M.

Whether you’re looking for cheese accompaniments or some seriously good snacks for Christmas, this is perfect. The smoked cheese straws were divine. As for the actual cheese, we adored the potted stilton, encased in a beautiful china keepsake, and the classic and nutty cheddar, caved aged cheddar wedge is a great allrounder.

Wyke Farms luxury west country hamper

Best: For cheddar lovers

Rating: 9/10

Get ready for one of the best cheddars you have ever tasted – that’s right. Wyke Farms, based in Somerset, has nailed it with its ivy reserve cheddar – a creamy, nutty, deep flavour which has a rich and tantalisingly strong finish. In fact, it has won more awards than any other cheddar.

Inside this hamper, you get no less than 1.25kg of this award-winning cheese. Also inside the hamper is a slab of Wyke’s very own unsalted and salted butter, a jar of spiced tomato and caramelised onion chutney and a bottle of fizz with a difference – family reserve sparkling Somerset apple wine. This all comes alongside a wooden board and intricate cheese knife, all packaged inside a wicker hamper with handle and leather straps. Fantastic value for money.

Letterbox Hampers festive cheese and port letterbox hamper

Best: Postal present

Rating: 7/10

This was the cutest thing we have ever received in the post. Letterbox Hampers pour so much care into its hampers and we love that they champion local by filling its postable boxes with quality British produce. There is so much attention to detail with every element. Inside this particular hamper, we found a cute postcard detailing what it contains – a mini bottle of Taylor’s port, a small jar of Boddington’s caramelised onion chutney, Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbread cracker, Cambrook caramelised cashews, caws cryf cheese – a lighter cheddar and a heart-shaped portion of Godminster cheddar. Perhaps a little pricey for the small amounts of each product but we would be elated to receive one of these in the post over Christmas.

Welsh Cheese Company Welsh wine and cheese connoisseur’s hamper

Best: For welsh cheese

Rating: 9/10

From the heart of Wales comes this delectable cheese and wine hamper, which includes a sensational bottle of red - Montgomery vineyard’s rondo. Paired with four outstanding Welsh cheeses – an oak-smoked Caerphilly, mon las Anglesey blue, Teifi mature and golden cenarth – this is a super selection encased in a pretty wicker hamper. Move over a classic apple or plum chutney, you’ll find a rhubarb and gin chutney which was delicious and there’s a punchy tomato and chilli relish just in case the gin chutney isn’t what you fancy. We’d choose this one for the wine alone.

The Courtyard Dairy huntsman hamper

Best: Looking hamper

Rating: 9/10

This hamper was different from the rest. Still the classic wicker, but with a handle perfect for on-the-go and we really loved it. The Courtyard Dairy is very particular about where its cheese comes from. Often, its cheeses are made by small scale farmers of a small herd of cattle, specially sourced by The Courtyard.

Inside this hamper we found five of these cheeses and you could almost taste the care which has gone into curating this selection. Killean goats gouda, the Hafod cheddar made by the Holden family near Lampeter, the creamy Winslade from the Hampshire Cheese Company, Cote Hill blue and the creamy Finn which is a triple cream cows milk cheese made in Herefordshire – all brilliant in their own way. Accompanying the cheeses in this one, there is a Yorkshire chorizo which had the perfect punch. Isle of Arran oatcakes, English pickled onions or red onion and apple chutney and two super bottles of wine – a Nero d’Avola and ciello bianco.

Paxton & Whitfield discovery cheese box

Best: For cheese connoisseurs

Rating: 7/10

Before we’d sampled the cheeses in this box, we unravelled the “cheese of the world” tea towel included in this hamper, detailing 49 much-loved cheeses with descriptions and images, a great opportunity to learn a little more about the cheeses we were sampling and a great gift for a cheese lover this Christmas.

The Cremoso cheese – a spoonable creamy delight which oozes onto the board – was our favourite on this one, although it may not be for everyone. But the hamper also includes a classic pecorino, a hard Swiss cheese called schnebblehorn and herve, another creamy soft cheese with a strong flavour. They also include butter biscuits, handcrafted at Paxton & Whitfield’s very own artisan bakery. These were some of our favourite biscuits and crackers from all of the hampers.

The verdict: Christmas cheese hampers

So many of these hampers were close to perfection and would be an excellent choice for a Christmas hamper for you and your family, or to send to a loved one. The key to finding the best hampers is sourcing independent producers who care about what they include in your box, using fresh artisan products that are curated by experts in their field. Sharpham, Morton’s and Macknade were just some of these smaller teams working hard to make sure the cheese, chutneys, crackers and wine were spectacular. We loved the ones served in the classic wicker baskets, particularly the Fortnum & Mason and Courtyard Dairy. Overall, we felt Sharpham offered the most fruitful selection for the best price.

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Have an alternative countdown to Christmas with a cheese advent calendar

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