After a record-breaking nine months circumnavigating the world on a tandem bicycle, George Agate created a spiced white rum inspired by flavours he came across on the historic Silk Road. Unfortunately, a trademark conflict forced Agate to abandon the brand name – Silk Road Distillers – mere months after launching. Now, he needs your help choosing a new one…
Having designed his rum specifically to pair with tonic, Agate’s intention behind Silk Road Spiced Rum – temporarily dubbed Rum with No Name – was to breathe new life into white rum. It’s a category he knows plenty about; prior to setting off on the ride that would raise more than £13,000 for charity and earn him a Guinness World Record, Agate worked as a bar manager.
Around that time, the gin boom was kicking off. “It started off with Hendrick’s as a premium and Gordon’s as a house, and then you started getting your Silent Pools and your Sipsmiths,” he recalls. “And I was watching that and thinking, ‘Wait a second… There’s nothing happening for rum, especially white rum’. We had Koko Kanu and a few cachaças, maybe a bottle of Wray & Nephew. The rest was mainly dark spirits.”
Not long after, Agate set out on the bike trip with cycling buddy John Whybrow, covering 18,000 miles over nine months. Unassisted and carrying all their equipment, they started in Canterbury and headed to Istanbul through Europe. “From there we took the Black Sea and headed to Georgia, and then through Azerbaijan,” he says. “We couldn’t get visas for Iran, so we had to fly down to India.”
The duo cycled the coast of India, through south-east Asia and onto Australia and New Zealand. “One of the rules is that you have to go through opposite points on the planet,” he explains. “Two cities where, if you were to drill through the earth’s core, you’d come out at the other city. And so ours were Wellington in New Zealand and Madrid in Spain.”
They flew to San Francisco and cycled through central America and Mexico to Panama. A flight to Morocco saw them cycle back up to Canterbury for the final stretch. Back home, Agate began working on his rum, inspired by the journey the duo had taken following the Silk Road eastwards from Istanbul.
“That was my favourite part of the journey,” he says. “Everyone was so friendly. Locals put us up in mosques some nights, they would take us in and allow us to camp in their gardens. You go through a town and the locals would call you over to have tea with them and play dominoes. It was endless.”
Agate travelled the UK speaking to craft distillers – about 50 in total – before he found a partner that shared his vision for bringing the botanical elements of gin together with the flavours found in traditional spiced rum to create a spiced white rum that pairs beautifully with tonic. “Drinking rum with Coca-Cola as a standard mixer can really drown out the flavour and depending on what ginger drink you drink, that can hide the rum, too,” he explains. “But tonic works really well.”
Together, they imported rum from Guyana to be redistilled and vapour-infused with spices commonly found along the Silk Road trading route: lemongrass, ginger, pink peppercorns, rosehip, hibiscus and cinnamon. “Our rum is 42% ABV, so it’s got a little bit of heat afterwards if you drink it neat,” says Agate. “When we serve it with tonic, we add a little bit of lemon or hibiscus as a garnish. They both work really well. It’s a really refreshing drink.”
Less than six months after applying for the British trademark and launching the brand as Silk Road, the European trademark holder got in touch. Due to Brexit, European trademarks are being converted into British trademarks, so the two businesses faced a battle over who would retain the rights. Reluctantly, Agate decided to change the name – and he’s asking rum fans to rename the brand.
There are only three rules. Firstly, it has to be three syllables or shorter. This is for simplicity, but also because the signature serve is tonic, so it needs an ‘and tonic’ bar call e.g. Silk Road and Tonic. The second rule is that it can’t be rude in another language or offensive in another culture, for fairly obvious reasons. And the third rule? “It can’t be Rummy McRumFace,” says Agate.
Got a great idea for a name? To submit yours, all you need to do is donate between £5 and £500 on the Rum with No Name crowdfunding page – and you’ll even bag some rum goodies in return. Be quick, the campaign ends on Monday 8th June at the oddly specific time of 9:24am.