Ripping up the rulebook

Cornish girl, free spirit, creative entrepreneur. Meet Hannah Lamiroy, founder of Tinkture

When I caught up with Tinkture founder Hannah Lamiroy, she was knee deep in a house move. Having established a cool and edgy pop-up bar and event space in an old warehouse (45 Queen St) in Penzance last summer, she fell head over heels for Cornwall’s most westerly town. The space is on hold currently, whilst it gets a bit of TLC before opening to the public again hopefully in the lead up to Christmas, but Hannah’s love of Penzance goes undiminished.

“It’s my favourite place, hands down,” she says. “The ‘end of the line’ reputation that Penzance once had is so outdated. The people here are charming; there’s such an arty vibe – the culture, the architecture, the beaches, the type of tourist. It’s amazing! The food and drink scene is so inspiring too,” she continues. “The authenticity and provenance surrounding fishing, foraging, and artisan producers is intense, and seems to have been heightened further by the lockdown and Covid-19. I love this place – it’s so real. Never has a place felt more like home to me.”

That’s some statement for a girl born and bred in Cornwall, who grew up in and around Charlestown, and then spent almost a decade travelling the world with husband Sam on the World Surf Tour. (He’s an ex pro-surfer, multiple British champion, and is now a director of Tinkture alongside Hannah.)

Like so many artisan food and drink businesses in Cornwall, Tinkture began life in a home kitchen. “Making a rose gin was the last thing on my mind with a toddler around the house, but I’ve always been creative, loved food and wine, and was writing a blog for busy mums – giving them easy recipe ideas and looking at natural remedies to improve their health and wellbeing,” Hannah explains. “At the same time, inspired by my granny, Tink, I was also experimenting with creating natural, nicely-flavoured tinctures to relieve sore joints and improve liver function.”

“We had a couple of lovely old-fashioned rose bushes in the garden and their fragrance was just so beautiful and, once I discovered how beguiling their flavour and taste was, I just couldn’t  ignore them! I collected the petals, thinking that they would work perfectly with juniper, and played around with a range of other botanicals. Eventually, after months of testing and sampling by friends and family, I settled on our amazing rose gin. Our recipe now uses fresh, organic David Austin rose petals, grown and handpicked especially for us by Jan on her Certified Organic Maddocks Farm.”

And therein lies the secret of Tinkture’s unique flavour – served up in an equally unique bottle. “The scent and flavour of a rose is actually very dry and quite bitter, and that gives rose gin a completely unique profile. Ours is a London dry style gin – light and delicate with a hint of citrus,” she notes. “I find our gin is best served simply with tonic over ice – and the gin also turns from a golden amber to rose colour when it mixes with the tonic – because of the natural pigment from the rose petals! To garnish I would serve it with a twist of unwaxed lemon rind or if you are feeling summery maybe a thin slice of fresh pear.”

Friends running Nancarrow Farm in Zelah challenged Hannah to supply them with bottles of her prototype Rose Gin for their 1,000 Mouths festival in 2017. It went down such a treat, and the response was so overwhelming that Hannah had little choice but to set about starting up in earnest early in 2018. With unique Rose Gin and the now iconic ‘Re-Use’ bottle, word spread quickly, and Tinkture was being discovered way beyond the Tamar, even drawing attention from Fortnum & Mason in London. And the rest, as they say, is history. Hannah’s been in business ever since!

“I’ve had to learn a lot about the drinks business very quickly – including direct selling, and distribution,” she admits. “It was never on my radar to create and run a drinks business but we’re certainly doing it our own way! We tend to do things in an original manner; we don’t necessarily follow established rules, not to be clever or pseudo original, rather because we are new to this world and know what’s important to us, as a business and just as humans. We stick to our principles – great drinks, sustainable, transparent and organic where possible – it’s why we are proud to be ‘The Clean Alcohol Company’. It’s not always the easiest path, but being a mum, I’m pretty good at juggling the ups and downs, and figuring things out along the way.”

Soon after after launch of the Rose Gin came the ready-to-drink Negroni Rosa and Negroni Classico, (developed in collaboration with ‘The Appletons’ – who have an incredible restaurant in Fowey), in their distinctive bottle designs. Then, during lockdown, Hannah returned to the kitchen again… this time creating Tink & Booch. Made with her organic rose gin together with apple and elderflower Kombucha, it’s a delicate, aromatic cocktail in a can, pre-mixed and ready to drink. It’s flying off the shelves already!

And there’s more to come. “I’m keen to test more ready to drink cocktails in cans, perhaps develop an organic rum to keep Sam happy, as well as explore non-alcoholic options,” she says. “I’ve so many ideas, I love playing with flavours, and we’re so privileged to have such a large, engaged audience both online and here locally, able and willing to test drive our concepts. But one thing’s absolutely certain,” Hannah maintains. “As well as tasting great, our drinks have to sit well with our ethos – which means always being ethical, and always being authentic.”

Watch this space.