Cheese is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ genetic lines that is hard to forget for one simple reason: it truly does reek of cheese. And not some light smelling cheese like Brie. No sir, I’m talking about those funky, foot-smelling cheeses—so stinky that you wonder if someone rolled the bud around in their old dirty sock.
Sounds amazing, right? Well, it can be. Just like a good English Stilton, it stinks but the taste can be delightful. But not all Cheese is created equal.
UK Cheese, Big Buddha Cheese, or just Cheese are all modern recreations put out by modern seed companies that all pale in comparison to the original in the eyes of this author.
In the end, this is a selfish article for me to write because it has become increasingly difficult to find anything that even closely resembles the original Exodus Cheese line that I love so very much, and I want to see this change.
Today’s Cheese vs Original Cheese
Through the years, my favorite Cheese crosses are always the ones that do not try to recreate the original. Instead, crosses like LA Confidential, Blue Cheese and Strawberry Cheesecake achieve legendary status by taking the cheese aroma in an entirely new direction.
But this begs the question: If the original Exodus Cheese was so good, then why was it gradually replaced by inferior seed lines?
Well, first of all, seeds make money whereas the original Exodus Cheese was a cut-only line. It’s just not as easy to sell cuts as it is to sell seeds. This means that seed companies have to come out with their own version, typically by crossing a common Afghan or perhaps a Kush into the original. This almost always muddles the sweet, pungent cheesiness of the mother line, leaving those accustomed to the original yearning for more.
The second point is that Exodus Cheese is notoriously difficult to grow. By crossing it into a hardy Afghan, crosses like Big Buddha Cheese ensure larger and more consistent buds at the heavy sacrifice of flavour.
Describing A Lost Friend
Exodus Cheese looks and smells very different from most of its modern descendants. If you observe a large and dense bud morphology, there is very little chance that you are looking at the original cut nor a plant resulting from a seed line that accurately represents the original.
The original Exodus Cheese is elongated and wispy, exhibiting hybridic characteristics that lean more towards narrow leaf ancestry. The nose is way sweeter and more cheesy than what you find on most modern recreations.
When smoked, the bright and robust cheese flavour dominates with notes of sweet, citrusy vanilla on the exhale. No dull or muddled, earthy cheese as in most Dutch-designed ‘UK Cheese’ lines, which are not to be conflated with the original cut-only Exodus Cheese that was originally popularized in the UK during the early-90s.
Remember: ‘cut only’ means that even if you managed to obtain original seeds derived from that original cut, you would still have to know what the original was like to be able to hunt out the phenotype that accurately represents the original mother.
The cannabinoid content is THC-dominant and mid-strength (14%-18%) with more focus on aroma production.
Exodus Cheese is one of those cultivars that really drives home the understanding that THC is not everything. Despite not having the highest THC contents, Cheese is considered a highly potent cultivar by many seasoned smokers, including this one. In my book, a 28% Kush treats my pain all day whereas a 19% Cheese-based genetic will be reserved for the end of the day.
The Groovy History of Exodus Cheese
Not only does this plant have one of my personal favourite aroma profiles, it also has one of the best backstories I have ever heard and it is always a pleasure to tell.
The Exodus Collective was one of the prominent DIY sound system crews that arose during the early-90s underground acid house scene in England.
Old genres like dub reggae were showcased alongside modern forms of electronica, while new genres like jungle saw their first public appearance on the stages of the famous Exodus squatter parties.
It was in this context that Cheese first arose, quickly becoming the cultivar of preference for the English isles. To some degree it has remained so ever since.
Skunkman Sam and Original Skunk
The cut that would later be known as ‘Exodus Cheese’ was selected from ‘Original Skunk’ seeds, likely from cultivars descending from Skunkman Sam’s collection. Skunkman Sam is the legendary American breeder/seed collector who is largely credited as being the first who brought Skunk to Europe, among many other prominent American heirlooms.
Unfortunately, the Skunk #1 genetic that is so ubiquitous throughout Europe fails to retain the acrid skunk aroma that is associated with these genetics. Instead, it tends to lean more towards sweeter/citrus aromas with only slight skunkiness in the background.
In the opinion of this author, the Exodus Cheese genetic is one of the closest remaining example of Original Skunk genetic, which have been sadly lost for the most part.
All good cannabis starts with good genetics. The first company that manages to bring back Exodus Cheese in all of its glory into the legal market will reap the benefit of growing a time-tested crowd-pleaser that never gets old and always stands out in the crowd.
Legends don’t happen by accident. Thirty years of domination in a thriving underground cannabis market like that of the UK does not happen by fluke. The nose knows, and here’s hoping my excitement leads at least a few of you to connect (or re-connect) with the Cheese that started it all.
There is actually an ‘Exodus Cheese’ on the regulated market—Sunday special from Riff (Aphria)—and I was going to review it for this article but it would not be fair to the legacy of this cultivar.
In short, I do not doubt that the cultivar in question was developed from a seed that may have some genetic relationship to the original Exodus cut, but it is apparent that very little effort was made to hunt out a phenotype that accurately represents the original mother line.
Additionally I must mention that anyone refining a seed line whose feature is aroma will understand the importance of developing production/processing methods that are aimed at retaining said aroma.
There is no point in developing and/or obtaining high-grade genetics if you are not going to use terpene contents as a key component of quality assessment and end product valuation. This is an endemic issue in our industry that will only change once companies realize the correlation between high-terpene contents and rate of sale.