Old Monk—The History Of India's Favourite Rum - Homegrown

Old Monk—The History Of India's Favourite Rum

A favourite of the masses, also colloquially referred to as the ‘national drink of India’, and for the longest time, the biggest Indian Made Foreign Liquor brand, Old Monk’s legacy is almost 66 years old. Secured inside the same bottle in shape and size since 1954, this dark rum still tastes the same⁠—of memories and a little bit of vanilla, raisins, and other spices.

The history of India’s favourite rum is as interesting as its flavour. In 1855, Edward Abraham Dyer (who also happened to be the father of Colonel Reginald Dyer who oversaw the unfortunate massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in 1919), opened a brewery in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh to supply cheap beer to the British soldiers. Interestingly, he created what could be Asia’s first beer ‘Lion’ which was advertised as being ‘as good as back home’ to the Brits. Come the 1930s, the Indian assets of Dyer’s brewery which had been purchased by H.G. Meakin came to be known as ‘Dyer Meakin Breweries’. Two years after independence, in 1949, the company was acquired by Narendra Nath Mohan and was renamed ‘Mohan Meakin Breweries’ for good.

Mohan then moved the business to an industrial hub called Mohan Nagar in Ghaziabad, and diversified into breakfast foods, fruit juices etc. But its star project was introduced in December 1954 by his son Ved Rattan Mohan, a retired Indian army colonel who took over the company as its managing director after his father’s death in 1969. After a visit to Europe where he was smitten by the Benedictine monks and the liquors they produced, he introduced a drink matured in oak vats for seven years and infused with spices called Old Monk as a tribute to them. The Rajya Sabha MP, Lucknow’s mayor for two terms, friend to many a popular celebrity of the era, as also a Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee died in 1973, at a young age of 45.

After his death, his brother, Kapil Mohan, who is the better-known face of Old Monk took over the company’s gear.

Such was Kapil’s leadership that the drink became the country’s largest-selling liquor brand. The old soldier was proud of his product and never advertised it while he was alive because he knew that once people had a taste of the rum they’ll never go back to anything else. But due to a shift in marketing, our daily lives being flashed upon with advertisements everywhere and all the time, the classic dark rum has dipped down to a five per cent market share due to its non-promotional strategy.

Check out Hot Buttered Rum’s recipe by Nikhil Merchant

Restaurateur Nikhil Merchant’s warm and soothing creation is irresistibly delicious in its smoky flavour and exotic nuances. Melting butter mingles with the dark rum, topped with the citric tinge of orange and the punch of authentic Indian spices.

What You Need: 60 ml Old Monk, 45 ml Cointreau (or orange juice), 1 cup of water, half a teaspoon of salted butter, one star anise, one cinnamon stick, two cloves, a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg powder, one orange peel strip and a sense of adventure.

How To Do It: Heat the water with all the spices and boil well until it’s reduced to about half a cup. Strain out the spices, but retain the cinnamon and star anise. Pour the rum and Cointreau in a cup and mix well, top it with the strained spice water, add the butter and let the delicious salty flavour soak. Garnish with the orange peel, and sip your gorgeous warm creation.

The company also produces several other rums including white, flavoured, Gold Reserve and Supreme Varieties. The Old Monk Supreme XXX Rum comes in a bottle in the shape of a standing monk and the bottle cap or the monk’s ‘head’ is also used as a peg measure. You can either stick to sipping pure rum to enjoy it neat or you can choose to use your rum for cocktails.

— https://homegrown.co.in/article/36058/6-personalized-old-monk-cocktail-recipes-for-homegrown-readers

According to the Old Monk Rum’s website, the drink is quality dark rum made by the traditional method, matured in oak barrels for a minimum of seven years. The organic beverage contains 42.8% alcohol. It has a smooth creamy consistency. Its taste has notes of caramel, chocolate with a hint of vanilla flavour creating a truly pleasant harmony.

Always easy on the pocket, it still smells of the first time it was sneaked into the hostel probably with a pack of cheap cigarettes for the first-ever drinking escapade with friends, of the first night of drinking alone on the terrace after that college breakup, of the first time it was ordered with coke and a twist of lime at dinner, and of so many firsts for so many different generations.


Did you know Old Monk’s collection of flavoured rum comes in Cola, Cranberry & Mojito? Read all about it here!


Bonus peg: Watch a short film on Old Monk below.

If you liked this article, we suggest you read:

6 Personalised Old Monk Cocktail Recipes We Love

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