Whiskey Review: Solan Number One

The internet seems divided on Solan #1, an Indian Whisky. Some people seem to think it’s a great drink, others are of the opinion that it’s swill. Naturally, I was intrigued and needed to figure this out for myself.



The Kasauli Brewery was founded in the Solan district of Himachal Pardesh, India in the 1820s by Edward Abraham Dyer. Dyer had identified a demand among the local population for Scotch whisky (influenced by the tastes of the English officials occupying the country) and saw a business opportunity meeting that demand with cheaper, locally-produced spirits. He picked a location buried deep in the Himalayan mountain range because of the natural spring water and climate most closely resembling the climate of his home country, which he hoped would be conducive to the production of something resembling the much desired Scotch.

The downside of selecting such a remote location (elevation: 6,000 feet) was that getting supplies into and out of the distillery was a challenge. Distilling and brewing equipment sourced from England and Scotland were brought up the Ganges river as far as possible and then shipped the remainder of the way to the distillery on ox carts.

When the town of Kasauli was established in 1842 the local inhabitants started consuming most of the water that the distillery needed for operation and as a result moved the entire facility to Solan down the road where it remains in operation today.

The company was officially incorporated in 1855 when the British East India Company established full control over the Punjab region of India. In 1949 a native Indian businessman named NM Mohan purchased the distillery and renamed it Mohan Meakin, which it remains to this day.

The most interesting result of this private ownership might be the steadfast resistance to any advertising whatsoever. There are no ads for any of the distillery’s products, instead relying on word of mouth recommendations to fuel their sales.


The vast and overwhelming majority of whiskey produced in India is produced using fermented molasses, a process closer to the production of rum than anything else. From there it is typically blended with some grain spirit or imported whiskey and shipped out again.

Solan doesn’t play that game.

The oldest distillery in India remains true to its roots, producing whiskey in the same way that the Scottish founder intended all those years ago. The distillery starts with 100% malted barley (prevalent in the northern regions of the country, local to the distillery), cooks it into a mash, and ferments it prior to distillation. The spirit is created and distilled using the same imported Scottish stills that were imported when the distillery was founded.

After production the whiskey is matured in oak barrels for an undisclosed period of time prior to bottling and shipment.


There’s really not much to write home about here.

The bottle design is a standard liquor bottle design. The body is round and cylindrical with rounded shoulders that taper into a medium length neck. The bottle is capped with a plastic screw-on top.

Inside the mouth of the bottle is an easy-pour spout which only allows a little of the spirit out at a time. This is typical for some of the older designs of bottle, but since bars started switching to interchangeable spouts for pouring, this design has become less and less popular. Which indicates to me that either the bottle design hasn’t been updated in a couple decades, or they don’t have a high volume of sales for restaurants and bars.

As for the label, it’s a relatively dated design. More like something I’d expect from the 1970’s than a modern bottle, but maybe they’re attempting a retro feel here. The label takes up the majority of the space on the bottle and sports a yellowed background, gold border, and black lettering with the brand name information.



The spirit is a golden amber color, much like the scotch whisky on which this was based. The liquid is light and doesn’t seem very viscous.

The first thing I smell is fruit. Very heavy on the orange for a whiskey, with maybe a bit of cinnamon spice in the background. Otherwise, there’s a bit of vanilla mixed in as well.

The very first thing I taste is caramel, strong and sweetly delicious. As the flavor develops there’s a bit of nutmeg that starts to kick in, and a small touch of licorice in the background that’s just peeking out of the corner and trying to get noticed. The overall effect is, quite frankly, novel and delicious.

Once the spirit is gone there’s a very strong orange aftertaste that accompanies a good level of alcohol burn which lingers on the lips. I found this strange, given that this is only a 42.8% ABV spirit.

On Ice

This tastes exactly like a painkiller — the rum cocktail made with pineapple, spiced rum, and orange juice. But Solan tastes like one without the sickening sweetness of the juice.

It’s damn delicious, to be honest. I think there’s some pineapple joining the mix, but it could also be a bit of peach with something else blended in. Either way, the ice seems to be toning down the nutty flavors and letting some of the more fruity items in the spirit come through.

If you get this bottle for no other reason than to try it on ice, I guarantee it’ll be worth your time. Or at least it will be if you like stranger whiskey that’s a little off the beaten path.


Overall Rating

I’m going to be honest, I came into this review with some preconceived notions about this whiskey. The worst whiskey I’ve ever had comes from India –unfortunately I was too drunk to remember the brand, and I thought I might have found it once again browsing the shelves of my local liquor store.

This wasn’t it.

What I got instead was a strange but delicious orange flavored whiskey that comes with an amazing and rich history. It’s a great product, I really wish they would invest at least a little bit of money into the packaging. But I now understand why this private distillery buried in the Himalayas has remained in business for literally centuries without paying for marketing.

Solan Number One
Produced By: Solan
Owned By: Mohan Meakin
Production Location: India
Classification: Single Malt Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 42.8% ABV
Price: $15.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I’ll be sad to say Solan to this bottle! (Hah!)



  1. Solan No 1 one of the best whiskeys i had always bought these on way to shimla, i agree the brand needsto work in packaging & can be promoted and matched with the best of Malt whiskeys.

  2. I had been consuming it regularly but, due to poor marketing men of Mohan Breweries, it’s products are in the brink of vanishing. I can send the live video of awesome product I am preserving. I pray some good sense prevails on the staff on whom , Mohan Sahib has left everything.

  3. My dad had this esteemed whiskey for almost 50 years(yes half a century) though whenever he faced availability issues ,his second preference would be Peter Scott. I myself prefer this one to any of the high rated scotches. It actually grows on you ! My dad had his first drink with my grandfather 50 years back and last one with me last month.
    My dear friend shared this article as an ode to my dad.

  4. Best two products of Mohan Meakin….. Solan No. 1 and Old Monk Rum.
    Both are out of this world.
    AWESOME is just one word to describe them.

  5. Nice to read the comments. The Brewery has also introduced Solan Gold. Would love to read it’s reviews as well.

  6. Solan No 1 Premium is one of the best whiskies I have tasted from around the world. The price you pay is very reasonable compared to world prices of equal quality. It is malted barley whisky in the tradition of scottish whiskies but made in India now close to over 180 years in the beautiful Himalayan mountain town. The bottle is not an issue and is fine. It is the drink which gives the pleasure. I always try to get Solan No 1 when I can find it. It is hard to find it though.

  7. Today I tasted Solan No.1 beer. I think it has just been launched in market. I was a bit speculated at first, so I brought only a bottle. But after having the taste of it I went back to the shop and got me a case. Cheers guys.

  8. I remember Solan No 1 from 1970s. Always loved it. One of the best whiskies in the world. I learned it was about the very first Single Malts produced in the world!

  9. I had this particular brand Solan No.1 from 1981 – 1982 onwards. It’s one of the really awesome and amazing whiskeys in the world. I have not tasted any similar like Solan No.1 so far..

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