5 things you should know about Old Monk man Kapil Mohan who died

DailyBiteJan 09, 2018 | 17:07

5 things you should know about Old Monk man Kapil Mohan who died

On January 6, 2018, a man whose name was little known to the majority of his patrons died at the age of 88. Of course, once everyone came to know the value the late Brigadier (retd) Kapil Mohan had added to their lives, they all raised their glasses to him, took a sip of a cheap dark rum (that has become an integral part of modern India’s popular culture), and observed a two-minute silence for him.


Kapil Mohan was the former chairman and MD of Mohan Meakin Ltd, most famous for making Old Monk, a brand of dark rum that even teetotallers would have heard of. Unless one has an active interest in companies that brew alcohol, or those who run them, or one is a diehard fan of obscure trivia, it is unlikely one's heard of Mohan's name.

But it’s not too late to get to know of him. Here are five things about the Old Monk man you probably did not know:

1) The “Old Monk man” (as the media has been referring to him, despite the fact that he also created brands like Solan No 1 and Golden Eagle) did not drink Old Monk. In fact, the retired Army man was a teetotaller. According to a Business Standard report, Mohan drew strength primarily from other spirits — the holy kind.


2) Despite the fact that Old Monk never advertised, it was the undisputed single brand leader till 2002, not just among rum labels, but the entire branded spirits market in India, well ahead of its closest competitor, the United Spirits Ltd-produced whisky Bagpiper.


In a 2012 interview, Mohan said, “We do not advertise. I will not, and as long as I am in this chair, we will not [advertise]. The best way of my advertising is the product: When it comes to you and you taste it, you look at the difference and ask what it is. That is the best advertisement.”

Of course, with changing tastes, competition and perhaps their decision to not advertise in a consumerist society, Old Monk sales have suffered. Since 2005, the classic dark rum’s market share has dipped 10 per cent, and now stands at a meagre five per cent of the Indian rum market.

3) Mohan Meakin was not always called so. Founded in 1855 by a Scotsman Edward Dyer, the brewery in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh was then called Dyer Meakin Breweries. Edward Dyer was the father of Colonel Reginald Edward Dyer, the British Army officer who oversaw the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919. Barely two years after India gained its independence from the British, in 1949, the company was acquired by NN Mohan and renamed Mohan Meakin Breweries. It was only in 1970 that Kapil Mohan finally took over its helms.


4) They say the secret behind Old Monk’s addictive sweet taste is in the water used to brew it. That may be true. The breweries have sourced water from the same natural spring in Solan for 150 years, since the facilities were set up. In fact, according to an essay in Rumporter, some of the original equipment including the copper pot stills, imported more than 150 years ago from England and Scotland, is still in use at the distillery.

5) Kapil Mohan received the Padma Shri award in 2010 for trade and industry.

Last updated: January 09, 2018 | 17:09
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