Last week I was in London and had the opportunity to visit with the people from Neal's Yard Dairy. They are consolidators and affineurs for some of Britain's greatest cheeses (affineur is the term for someone who ages cheese). I have attached photos of us trying the cheese, to test its ripeness. A stainless steel trier is inserted in the wheel, and a plug of cheese is removed. We cut off and taste the tip of the plug, and put the rest back in the wheel, sealing it with a bit of paste. In this way the affineur can determine how the cheese is getting along without disturbing the aging process.
If you are ever in London be sure to visit the Neal's Yard Borough Market or Covent Garden stores. And ask your local cheese monger if they carry Neal's Yard cheeses (Colston Bassett Stilton and Keen's Cheddar are among my favorite).
To see more photos click here.