To quote Captain Jack Sparrow, “where has the rum gone?”. In a major blow to the beverage industry, Kapil Mohan, the creator of the iconic Old Monk passed away on Sunday, the 7th of January 2018 according to reports on social media. These reports say that he died from sudden massive cardiac arrest at his home in Ghaziabad.
Hello, Old Monk, my good friend!
Kapil Mohan was the chairman of Mohan Meakin, the maker of Old Monk as well as brands like Solan No.1, and Golden Eagle Beer before age and competition knocked him out of the race.
Strangely enough, this gentleman was a teetotaller. He never downed a single peg although his famous dark rum, Old Monk, was a favourite among the masses, no matter one’s age for years.
The company was launched in 1954 but it wasn’t until the early 70’s that Old Monk started to emerge as a global brand. Subsequently, it was the biggest Indian Made Foreign Liquor brand as well.
Mohan was the president of the municipal committee in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan, where the company had its distillery and brewery.
Mr Mohan ran the company successfully for over 40 years until he finally relinquished control to his nephews last year. However, he still retained his title of chairman.
Mohan was also the president of the municipal committee in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan, where the company had its distillery and brewery. In fact, the water that came from the same natural spring in Solan was one of the main reasons that Old Monk and other brands did so well. It had been that way from the time the facilities were set up.
Old Monk slides down?
Till the mid-2000’s, Old Monk was the largest-selling liquor brand in India. It was most popular at military canteens. As I recall, it was also a favourite of the youngsters that couldn’t afford to drink anything else. This was possible since the beverage was easily available and cheaper than other brands in the market.
Of course, all this success was a result of marketing done by word of mouth. Kapil Mohan didn’t believe in conscious marketing efforts. “We do not advertise. I will not, and as long as I am in this chair, we will not (advertise),” Mohan had said in an interview in 2012. “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 is it. That is the best advertisement.”
In recent years though the company has been battling rumours that it’s taking its bestselling beverage off the market amid dropping sales. TOI in 2015 reported that ‘Old Monk’ saw a 54% decline in sales between 2010 and 2014. Mohan Meakin apparently sold only 3.9 million cases of the rum in 2014; its sales were a quarter of what they were in the 1960s. (Source: TOI)
The end of an era?
However, people close to him say the Padma Shri awardee was averse to change and wanted things done the traditional way.
This led to changes by the mid -2000’s with the youngsters in the family having different ideas on how to run the company. Rakesh ‘Rocky’ Mohan (son of V.R. Mohan), Mohan’s nephew broke away. He eventually sold the company’s Lucknow facility to the Wave group of Ponty Chadha. In a short span of time, Chadha, who was seen close to the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, brought under his control the liquor business in Uttar Pradesh and other northern states.
The slide in Mohan Meakin’s fortunes coincided with the rise of Chadha. Meakin’s, which was once listed on the Calcutta Stock Exchange, has since been delisted.
There is some good news though and given how fond the whole country is of Old Monk, it’s a refreshing thought. Kapil Mohan’s nephews who now head the company are trying their best to revive the beverage and restore its former glory. I know lots of Goans, in particular, that will cheer at this piece of news.
Information credit: The Wire