Old Monk Vs. Captain Morgan | Which One's Better?
Our country stands on the precipice of war. Two great rums loom over the population, but there can only be one master of the Indian spirit. Ruling fair and wise, we have Old Monk, a homegrown powerhouse. Undefeated in battle, it occupies an exalted position throughout our great land. An equaliser of men, its pungent kick is endeared and endured by both peasants and kings alike. But over the horizon, a challenger emerges. A pirate from lands unknown; its name, Captain Morgan; its taste, oh so delicious. But which of these emirs of ethanol is truly superior? Will Captain Morgan’s insolence win over a plurality of rum drinkers? Will passions flair and families crumble over the question on everyone’s mind? Or will it, like so many others, fade into obscurity before Old Monk’s overwhelming charm. Let’s find out.
At the risk of sounding smarter than I really am, Old Monk is less of a rum than it is distilled nostalgia capable of tranquilising a horse. While most would associate it with ageing Catholic sailors and guys in hostels with scraggly beards who also love tea and think weed cures cancer; Old Monk, rather surprisingly, has a far broader and less evident appeal. And why wouldn’t it? For decades, this dark rum has penetrated every facet of Indian society, gaining a cult-like status among otherwise rational individuals who can now afford far more palatable forms of alcohol.
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. It’s the alcohol they managed to sneak into an office party the night they had their first drunken kiss; yes, some people have their first kiss at 22. It’s also the drink they celebrate with when the HR inquiry into the matter is suspended for lack of evidence. Old Monk 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 tea didn’t exist and cows didn’t urinate, it would probably have been voted our national drink.
So is nostalgia alone what makes Old Monk so special? Could this universally beloved drink, with whom every alcohol enthusiast in India shares a cherished memory, ever be replaced and cast aside for something newer, something better, something with which to make the memories of the future?
While technically a lot older than Old Monk, Captain Morgan has never been anything more than a foreign novelty, if not mistaken entirely for Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates Of The Caribbean. It’s only marginally more expensive now that they’ve started producing it locally, but for all intents and purposes, it has yet to connect with any true Indian on a level beyond just mere curiosity. Rather ironically, the drink, inspired by a real life ‘privateer’ which is for lack of a better word, a state sponsored pirate, is far more civilised than its seemingly saintly rival.
While Old Monk is as crude as a stone block with claw marks, Captain Morgan is every bit as refined as a peanut with a monocle. It’s pungent, but not nearly as harsh, it’s got a kick, but it’s more comparable to a baby in the womb than a mustang on cocaine. It’s everything we objectively love about Old Monk, but without the part where its seemingly trying to kill you the next morning. But will this alone be enough to help Captain Morgan turn the tide against its revered competitor? Today, we find out.
To prove, once and for all, which rum is objectively superior, I devised a fool-proof test. The parameters were quite simple, I would be experimenting on members of my staff at The Bombay Report without their knowledge, as I often do, by giving them each two unmarked glasses of rum and coke, each with equal measures of Old Monk and Captain Morgan. The idea being, people would gravitate towards the rum they preferred. 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 overpowering, some would say, suffocating 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, I expected the subjects’ biases towards Old Monk kick in, but that’s not quite what happened. People seemed genuinely intrigued by the new drink, and most even preferred it. I saw Old Monk loyalists turn their back on everything they ever knew, in favour of the tantalising new rum in town. And now, months later, many consider themselves Captain Morgan drinkers. The test had succeeded. It taught me which was the superior rum; and more importantly, it taught me that not all questions are meant to be answered.
Captain Morgan is the superior rum. I’m sorry.
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