In the late 1820s, Edward Dyer came from England to set up the first brewery in India (started as Dyer Breweries in 1855) at Kasauli in the Himalayan Mountains. Ironically the Mohan Meakin Brewery is the world’s highest distillery the Himalayas being at an elevation of more than 6000 feet (approximately 1800 meters).
The brewing and distilling equipment was imported from England and Scotland by water surface using sailing ships. The brewery launched India’s rather Asia’s first beer named Lion, which was in great demand by the British army stationed in Kasauli. The brewery is Asia’s oldest operational unit, and one of the oldest founded and still operational whiskey producing distillery.
The brewery was later shifted to nearby Solan, as there was an abundant supply of fresh spring water unlike Kasauli which till date is also a water scarce region. The Kasauli brewery site was converted to a distillery which the Mohan Meakin Ltd. is still operating. Some of the original equipment like the copper pot stills are still being used today in the process of distillation.
The main whiskey being made ever since the distillery started to operate is known as Solan No. 1 has been named after the nearby town of Solan and is to-date very popular and in demand single malt whiskey being sold in India. Solan No. 1 is probably the only single malt whiskey made in Himachal Pradesh.
Other major products of the Kasauli brewery are Old Monk rum, Colonel’s Special and Diplomat Deluxe.
One must visit the brewery to see how efficient the British engineering was. Till date also the distillery operates smoothly and efficiently. One can spot the huge water WTP-Clarifiers and distillation tanks from the road itself. There is also and old steam engine placed near the entrance of the brewery.