Kapil Mohan, man behind rise of India’s iconic rum Old Monk, dies at 88
Kapil Mohan, who died of a cardiac arrest, was credited with the success of Old Monk, one of the world’s best loved rum brands.india Updated: Jan 09, 2018 14:39 IST
Kapil Mohan, the former chairperson and managing director of Mohan Meakin brewery and the man behind the success of Old Monk rum, passed away on Saturday.
Mohan was 88 years old and had been unwell for the last few years. According to reports, he died of a heart attack in Ghaziabad’s Mohan Nagar area.
Kapil Mohan took over the reins of the family business after the death of his elder brother. Old Monk, which was launched in 1954, was Mohan Meakin’s best-selling product. After Mohan took over, the company established three distilleries and two breweries. Mohan Meakin also manufactures Solan No. 1, a malt whisky and Golden Eagle beer, part from business ventures in breakfast food, juices and vinegars.
Kapil Mohan was awarded the Padma Shri in 2010. Mohan was a teetotaler but it was his acumen that propelled Old Monk to the status of India’s favoured drink. Kapil Mohan is survived by his wife and a daughter.
Old Monk’s fortunes have risen and dipped over the years, but it remains one of the most iconic rum brands. Despite the fact that it was cheap and Mohan did not believe in advertising, Old Monk found many takers abroad.
A 2016 Mint story that traced the decline of Old Monk recounts an anecdote from Pramod Krishna, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverages. “ It was sometime in the early 1990s. I was in Germany and the euro was yet to come. To my surprise, I found Old Monk. But what was the bigger surprise? Old Monk was being sold at 2 marks and Bacardi at 1 mark and the bartender told me people were actually drinking more Old Monk,” says Krishna.
Liberalisation and the entry of foreign brands such as Bacardi hit Old Monk hard. Mohan Meakin’s profits plummeted further as liquour baron Ponty Chaddha’s Wave Distilleries and Breweries established a monopoly over the market in Uttar Pradesh, owing to political partonage.
Despite its declining fortunes, Old Monk is still an icon, and a go-to drink for many Indians. Fans of the brand took to Twitter after Mohan’s demise, raising a toast to the man’s legacy.