Over the many decades of its existence, Old Monk has developed a seemingly massive cult following. You’d assume it is drunk exclusively by single men with scraggly beards who live in hostels, but that’s actually not the case. No matter where you go or who you talk to, everyone has an Old Monk story to tell. It’s what made the good times good, and the bad times endurable. It’s the drink they had with their dad when they first turned six or the alcohol they managed to sneak into a college party the night they had their first drunken kiss. It stands its ground everywhere, from the shadiest bar to the finest hotel, representing freedom, equality, joy, and everything good in the Indian spirit. Hell, if it wasn’t alcohol it would probably have been voted our national drink.
Then there’s Captain Morgan. It’s technically a lot older than Old Monk, but started being produced in India only last year, making its price fall to almost the same price as Old Monk. It’s an excellent rum, but it hasn’t yet been able to connect with people on a human level. But then again, the question is, can the young upstart take on the old wife bruiser in an unemotional, unbiased test? We decided to find out in a totally scientific blind tasting session.
The parameters were quite simple, we would be experimenting on members of our staff, as we often do, by giving them each two unmarked glasses of rum and coke, each with equal measures of Old Monk and Captain Morgan. This turned out to be redundant because Old Monk has a distinct, strong bitterness with a hint of vanilla, while Captain Morgan, lacking its rival’s commanding presence, is much sweeter and smoother, with a hint of nutmeg, which makes your first sip taste like Christmas. Because it was so evident which of the drinks was Old Monk and which wasn’t, we expected a landslide of votes in favour of the old guard. But that’s not what happened. They seemed genuinely curious about the new drink, and many even preferred it. We saw men who for years swore by Old Monk seemingly abandon it for greener pastures. This was terrifying. We’d found the one thing we never wanted to find.
So which is the better rum? While Captain Morgan is smooth and delicious, so is Old Monk. Then again Old Monk is really cheap, but now so is Captain Morgan. Neither rum is truly superior, and the real choice you have to make is between patriotism and tradition, and an awesome pirate logo. While drinking Old Monk will always be as sacred as embracing an old friend, off late, Captain Morgan is what we find ourselves asking for. What have we become?