Old Monk : The Rum That Became Popular Without Advertising

Old Monk’s founder, Retired Brigadier and Padmashree Kapil Mohan passed away on Saturday at the age of 88. He was the chairman of Mohan Meakin Ltd. which manufactures Old Monk and other beverages. Mr. Mohan suffered a fatal cardiac arrest at his residence in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Today, in his honour, we retrace the steps and delve into the history of this popular alcoholic beverage.

1. Old Monk was first made in 1954:

Photo: GQ India

Old Monk is an Indian dark rum that was launched in the Indian markets on December 19, 1954. But not many know that back in 1855, when the British ruled India, a man named Edward Dyer who was a Scot and the father of Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer (responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre) owned a brewery in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh. This brewery which made cheap beer was then bought by Mr. Mohan’s father (N.N. Mohan) and turned it into Mohan Meakin Ltd. Their first beverage was Lion Beer. Before Old Monk was introduced, there was another strong rum that was favoured by the people. It was aptly named, ‘Hercules’.

2. Old Monk once sold eight million bottles per year:

Photo: magicpin.com

Before, when there weren’t many rum options in the Indian market, Old Monk dominated the market. Its sales once touched a high of eight million bottles per year – all without any kind of advertising. It was once the highest rank amongst Indian Made Foreign Liquors (IMFL). In 2013, the first place in the list of the largest selling dark rum was taken over by McDowell’s No.1 Celebration Rum. Now, Old Monk’s sales are half of this and are constantly declining. Will it be able to survive in the market without Kapil Mohan?

3. There is a reason it is named ‘Old Monk’:

The supreme edition of Old Monk (extreme right) | Photo: indiatoday.intoday.in

The rum containing 42.8% alcohol that comes in six size variants of 90 ml, 180 ml, 375 ml, 500ml, 750 ml, and 1 litre bottles, is called so for a reason. Some say, that the original brewery was located in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh which was a place where you would find monks. Folktales state that the very first alcoholic beverage was brewed by a monk and rum is one of the very first alcoholic beverages to be made in the world.

Rum which is an alcoholic beverage made out of the byproduct of sugarcane or directly from its juice – Latin for sugar being saccharum, thus giving us the name ‘rum’ – was first made in ancient China. China is believed to have had the first monastery (zen was founded there). It is due to this that many say that the first rum was brewed by a monk who got bored of drinking the same old sugarcane juice – the truth? We still have to find out.

Another reason behind the name could be that Old Monk is aged for 7 years – and its Gold variety is aged for 12! That could be why the beverage is called ‘Old’ and the wisdom that is usually associated with age is called that of a ‘Monk’.

Old Monk is manufactured in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. It is sold by some retailers across the globe in various countries like Canada, Russia, U.S., Kenya etc. Today it has an empire of over 400 crores and it is reasonable priced (their Supreme limited edition could cost a lot though).


This article is in no way an encouragement to drink alcoholic beverages.

Preview Photo: scoopwhoop.com

Heer Khant
Heer Khant

Traveller | Writer | Photographer | Maverick | Social Worker | Lawyer | A freedom-loving woman for whom words are like wings to her soul. She believes in aliens, hates boundaries and lives like the first human on Earth.

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