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Old Monk The Legend

Review: Old Monk The Legend – 86.5/100 pts
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 7, 2015

Old Monk is a dark rum brand produced by Mohan Meakin Limited in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. According to the information I received, it is a molasses distilled rum, blended and aged for a minimum of 7 years. The Old Monk brand receives very little attention from the press, and does not appear to be represented in any advertising campaigns which I have seen. Rather Old Monk relies upon word of mouth and customer loyalty for its sales. Word of mouth must be good as this rum is (again according to information I received) the second largest selling  dark rum in the world.

(Note: India is a huge market for rum, and there is only a small presence of foreign brands on the sub-continent. Based solely upon sales in the home market, this would certainly be a believable statement. In fact the largest selling dark rum brand is also a rum produced in India, McDowell’s No.1 Celebration Rum.)

I was sent a sample bottle of Old Monk Legend by the local Alberta distributor, Madira Spirits Inc. and asked if I could provide a review here on my website. This version of Old Monk is a limited edition bottling which was launched in 2013. The rum arrives in a special bottle in the shape of a bust presumably of H.G. Meakin, the founder of Meakin & Co. Ltd., who was perhaps, the original Old Monk. Old Monk Legend does not have an age statement, although the small box the rum arrives in makes the claim that the rum inside is a blended masterpiece meant for rum connoisseurs.

Old Monk The legendIn the Bottle 3.5/5

I am not sure what to make of this bottle. Presumably the bottle is meant to represent the original ‘Old Monk’ for whom the brand has been named. However, after much searching I cold not even find out who he was. Perhaps this is Edward Dwyer who established a brewery at Kasauli in 1855, or maybe this is H.G. Meakin who founded Meakin & Co. Ltd. during the same century. (The two companies merged shortly after World War I to form Mohan Meakin Limited) It would have been nice if the box the rum arrived in had featured a bit of history to help us know who we are looking at when we see the bust style bottle of Old Monk Legend.

What the box does tell me is that the rum is bottled at 42.8 % alcohol by volume, and that it is drawn from spirits from various raw materials (??) which have been matured in Silver Oak Wood Cask for mellowness. (I suspect Silver Oak Wood Casks refers to well used oak casks which over time have began to lose their colour and have turned silver with age. Similar terms are used for old oak casks which are used to mature the very old scotch whiskies as younger casks may over-oak the spirit when matured for very long time periods.)

Although I find myself liking the bottle design (despite not knowing whom it represents, I do not like the metallic screw cap with its cardboard liner which seals the bottle. M feeling is that the metallic cap cheapens the overall look.

In the Glass 9/10

In the glass, the rum has the same color as the other rums in the Old Monk line-up, the Old Monk Supreme, the Old Monk Gold Reserve, and the Old Monk Very Old Vatted Rum. Each displays itself as a rich dark brown coloured rum with coppery hues that flash in the light. When each of my sample glasses were tilted and twirled (i examined all of the rums together for this final review), each displayed a similar moderately thick sheen of rum which gave up a few fat legs that dribbled down the inside of the glass. Perhaps the legs were slightly thinner and trailed downwards just a little faster with the Old Monk Legend; but the difference is minor. It seems that the producers of Old Monk have a certain visual profile they like to project, and all of their rums (regardless of where they sit upon the Old Monk ladder) are produced to about the same visual specification.

In the breezes above the glass the Old Monk Legend does not seem to have the same forceful push of cinnamon and clove that its brethren did. Those elements are there, but I sense more fine oak spice and less overt pungent spice (and less molasses) in the Legend. There also seems to be a tad more orange peel, banana, and butterscotch. My sense here is that the rum is perhaps less reliant on the addition of molasses flavour and spice than the others dark rums in the Old Monk line up. Comparing all four side by side, this rum has the nicest nose, and for that I have bumped its score up just a notch over the others.

In the Mouth  53/60

When I bring the rum to my mouth and take a sip, I decide that the flavour is perhaps more similar to the Old Monk 7 Year Old Rum, than it is to the drier Old Monk Supreme and Old Monk Reserve. It is smoother and lighter than the 7 Year, and as I felt when nosing the glass it seems to have a less overt molasses push and carries a muted form of cinnamon and clove spice on the palate. I taste a nice mixture of orange and banana peel mixed with wood spice, vanilla and caramel/butterscotch. Sipping a few more times heats the palate and brings flavours of nicotine and tobacco as well as indications of dried apricots, figs and orange pekoe tea.

The rum is in many ways the best of the line-up as far as flavour goes, however, there is a bit of astringency within the flavour profile which causes me to keep my scoring in line with the other Old Monk Rums.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The Old Monk Legend Rum has a lighter body and shorter finish than the other rums in the line-up. This shorter crisper finish bodes well for cocktails, but is surprising consider the rum is supposed to be more of a sipping experience meant for rum connoisseurs. Treacle and wood spice seem to linger the longest.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I have been through the entire Old Monk Line-up and the overall experience is very positive. I was surprised at the similarity in scoring between all of the dark rums, however I should note that each rum does indeed offer something a little different from the next. As we move up the ladder from the 7 Year Old to the 12 Year Old, and finally to the Supreme and the Legend, I seemed to notice each rum relied less upon caramel and molasses and more upon wood aging.

Unfortunately the small size of my sample bottle (180 ml) has left my with insufficient rum for cocktail explorations.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.



2 Responses to “Old Monk The Legend”

  1. russ said

    hi..does this one,unlike the other products in the line show the ingredients on the bottle?the supreme xxx lists DMwater,ethyl alcohol,natural flavour,added colouring …interesting that like tanduay products that they are called rum! so what am i missing in what is a rum? cheers russ

    • Hi Russ

      There are no ingredients listed on my bottle, the only description I saw was the ambiguous statement which I referred to in the review (that it is drawn from spirits from various raw materials). However, to be fair, almost all rums which are called ‘dark rum’ have other ingredients to give the rum its dark rich flavour. In fact in most countries (Canada and the USA including) producers are allowed up to 2 % of the volume to be “other ingredients” without requiring them to be mentioned on the label (so long as these ingredients are tradition to the manufacture of rum). If the volume of added flavour and or colour rises above 2% then the product must be labeled as either spiced or flavoured. Old Monk is a traditional Dark Rum, and the fact that it actually sees the inside of an oak barrel for longer than just a year gives it more character than many others I have tried.

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