HYDERABAD: One of the most popular drinks that epitomised the Indian version of the classic rum-and-coke combination, Old Monk has lost its presence in Telangana. A drink that was synonymous with almost every college party, business meeting or a casual get-together, Old Monk was adored by rum-lovers in the city.
Almost everyone has at least one incident or a story that they associate with drinking Old Monk. Even after the emergence of Bacardi in the country, Old Monk continued to be popular among rum-lovers in the city. In fact, it had its own fan-base with a set of people who cherished, relished and even worshipped a glass of Old Monk.
The popular brand owned by Mohan Meakin Limited, has become a casualty in Telangana, post-bifurcation, after inter-state taxation and duties between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana came into play.
“Old Monk is manufactured only in Andhra Pradesh and not in Telangana and to sell the drink here, companies will have to pay import tax in Telangana and export tax in AP, which is turning out to be too high. As a result, Old Monk is not available in Telangana any longer,” explains Venkateswara Rao, president, Telangana Wine Dealers’ Association.
Old Monk, which was the most preferred rum brand in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, finds itself practically extinct in the newly-formed Telangana state.
“Sale of Old Monk in the state had significantly reduced after bifurcation and gradually started decreasing. Now the brand has totally vanished in Telangana,” Rao explains.
The departure of Old Monk from the city’s liquor sales has not been due to a lack of demand, but because people had no other choice.
“This is not because the demand had stopped altogether, but once the company stopped selling it in Telangana, people had no option but to switch to another brand. The most preferred brand these days is Mcdowell’s, the only dark rum similar to Old Monk,” Rao points out. The Wine Dealers Association president reveals that a similar incident happened with Mansion House Brandy, which was removed from stores in Telangana after a problem with the factory. While it was restored a month later, the demand was much lesser than what it was before.
“Brands often struggle to bounce back once they take a hit. This is because, once they go off the shelves, people search for an alternative and then get used to it. People don’t generally prefer to switch a brand, even if it is one they once loved,” he says.Interestingly, wine dealers explain that though other brands like Bacardi established their presence, none could match the Old Monk’s popularity.