I cannot mention the exact year when I understood what alcohol meant or what it was capable of doing but my introduction to the world of spirits was through Old Monk. I remember I didn’t quite like the taste the first time I tried it although it was sweet, caramel-like. But it grew on me. Slowly. Building memories over the years with many others for whom Old Monk is a ritual.
We have much to thank Edward Dyer, H.G. Meakin and N.N. Mohan for laying the foundations to a brand which is considered a legacy. However, in the past few years, its diminishing fame has been a topic of concern. Now, with the passing away of N.N. Mohan’s son Brigadier Kapil Mohan, who was the chairman of Mohan Meakin Limited and credited as the creator of Old Monk, fans feel that the brand has no saviour.
Mohan Meakin was Asia’s first brewery, set in the picturesque town of Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh. A friend pointed out once, it’s the water that makes all the difference in the taste of Old Monk. This was the reason why before the advancement in machinery, the water was sourced strictly from the springs of the nearby hills.
Some love it, some loathe it but Old Monk certainly never goes unnoticed. Though I am not much of a dark rum fan, my partner-in-crime on the other hand swears by it. We have spent many sessions at our favourite neighbourhood bar, releasing steam post a hard day’s work over Old Monk and coke. And not to forget the cocktail sessions during our famous pajama parties where she often comes up with innovative mixes to keep us spinning through the night. One of my favourites from her Old Monk-based cocktails is the one with apple juice in it.
While we love to dress the Monk with as many flavours as possible, my aged friends feel that the Monk tastes best when served with the right amount of ice, water and coke in the respective order, strictly. I have never understood the logic but I am told that it enhances the flavour. I have even met some who love the Monk with hot water and cinnamon. To each his own.
While the 7 years aged XXX rum grade is the most popular, there are other varietals like the Supreme and Gold Reserve. These are aged for 12 years and are blended with highly matured spirits. Supreme also comes in a special bottle, with the shape of a standing monk. The top part of the monk’s head is the bottle cap, which also doubles up as a peg measure.
We may be now habituated to imported spirits, but I am sure when it comes to a special get-together at home with old friends, the Monk resurfaces. The question therefore is not whether you love the Monk but what memories has he built for you. And I am sure there’ll be plenty.