THE creator of a drink presented as the “ultimate Bloody Mary mixer” has revealed plans to enter the export market.

Hannah Fisher, the entrepreneur behind Scottish venture The Start-Up Drinks Lab, identified a gap in the market for a peat-smoked tomato juice after noticing a correlation between clients who enjoy peated whiskies and a Bloody Mary cocktail.

Ms Fisher, who worked for whisky companies for more than a decade, spent several years developing the recipe and the ideal smoking time for her Bloody Mary mixer, Tongue in Peat.

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Handcrafted in small batches, the mixer is made by infusing dried Islay peat into fresh, seasonal tomatoes to give them a "sweet, smoky, and salty taste", which is said to “deliver a richer, deeper, and more complex Bloody Mary”. The peat-smoked tomatoes are then blended and hand-bottled by a team of 12 in Port Glasgow.

The peat, which grows underground and absorbs the sea salt notes from the atmosphere on Islay, is recycled from whisky distilleries across Scotland.

Ms Fisher set up The Start-Up Drinks Lab in 2018 to produce Tongue in Peat, having run into difficulty finding a bottler for the product. The Start-Up Drinks Lab now employs 15 people at its factory and turns over £1m, having helped more than 300 businesses so far.

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Ms Fisher said: “It’s fair to say that peat-smoked products divide opinion – you either love them or you hate them – but even if you hate them, you can’t deny that peat intensifies the flavour.

“I wanted to create a product that replicated the whisky making process, where barley is cold smoked over a peat fire bed, but replace the malted barley with in-season, fresh tomatoes.”

Since launching at the end of 2021, Tongue in Peat has won two Great Taste awards. It is stocked by luxury venues such as Mayfair Townhouse Hotel, Gleneagles, and Hawksmoor Estate.

Ms Fisher has also grown her team to four people and now has plans to break into the American and Canadian markets.

The export plans are underpinned by ongoing support from Business Gateway. That relationship has helped the firm secure funding grants from Scottish Enterprise and Inverclyde Council, allowing Ms Fisher to acquire premises.

She has also received business and financial planning support from Scottish Development International, which has helped her grow Tongue in Peat’s client base.

Ms Fisher said: "It’s fair to say that our full business story is rooted in Inverclyde, and that is thanks to support from Business Gateway. I can always count on my adviser to regularly check in and be on hand to provide support and guidance.

“It’s been so rewarding to see my vision turn into a reality over the last couple of years, and I’m so excited for what’s next for Tongue in Peat.”

Mario Alonzi, adviser at Business Gateway, said: “We were able to support Hannah by signposting her to all available forms of funding and external support. It’s been fantastic to support such a focused and determined individual, and I have no doubt Tongue in Peat will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

The Bloody Mary, one of the oldest of the classic cocktails, typically combines vodka and tomato juice with Worcester and Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, garnished with celery sticks.