Recipient of Padma Shri in 2010, Brigadier (retd.) Kapil Mohan passed away on January 6, 2018. The 88-year-old man was the former Chairman and MD of Mohan Meakin Ltd, aka the man behind every alcohol lover’s favourite, Old Monk rum. Reportedly, Mohan who was not keeping well for the last few years, died of a cardiac arrest in Ghaziabad’s Mohan Nagar area. He is survived by his wife Pushpa Mohan.
The dark, squatting bottle featured a funny, fat and bald old man in a robe smiled at you. There are millions of alcohol lovers who start their hard liquor life with Old Monk and never drink anything else till the day they die. In fact, there are Facebook groups like “COMRADE--Council of Old Monk Rum Addicted Drinkers and Eccentrics.” But what is the magic of Old Monk that never died even in the era of scotch popularity? What is the basis of the unquestioning faith that the Old Monk loyalists possess? We decided to take you back to a small time travel.
In the late 1820s, Edward Abraham Dyer, father of Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, moved from England to set up the first brewery in India at Kasauli in the Himalayan mountains. Following independence, this brewery changed hands and became a distillery by the name of Mohan Meakin Pvt. Ltd. in 1967 when Narendra Nath Mohan acquired a majority stake in the company.After his death in 1969, his son Kapil Mohan took the charge along with his elder brother. He was the man who introduced us to Old Monk on 19th December 1954. An iconic vatted Indian dark rum that has been blended and aged for a minimum of 7 years. Its distinct vanilla flavour, with an alcohol content of 42.8% soon became popular in all parts of India. There was no advertising, and its popularity just depended on word of mouth and loyalty of customers. Old Monk has been the biggest Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) brand for many years. However, currently the sales are a quarter of that and they continue to decline.
The sense of emotion that comes with being an Old Monk drinker is pure bromance. There are gallons of tales about how strangers became fast friends over a glass of ‘budha sadhu’ or how it has been a savior during heartbreaks. Old Monk was never a wannabe. It is a rum with no add-ons, just a damn good drink that deserved to be treated like a good old friend. Kapil Mohan might be no more, but his immortal creation still breathes life to its fans, and will probably continue to do so.