Anyone who has consumed alcohol in Bangladesh is likely to be familiar with Carew’s products. Be it a bitter one-off encounter, or a regular dalliance, Carew – or Keru as it is called locally – has been discreetly serving the drinks since 1897.
Carew & Co (Bangladesh) Ltd was established in 1938 in Darshana, Chuadanga in what was in the Nadia district of British India. But its history stretches further back in time.
In 1805, a British industrialist called John Maxwell set up the Indian subcontinent’s first distillery in Kanpur.
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As the British presence in the subcontinent expanded, Maxwell’s distillery thrived and his coffers filled. He brought in a sugarcane and spirits specialist by the name of Robert Russell Carew to help with his operations. Carew found the business lucrative and with the help of two partners, bought out the distillery.
In 1857, the distillery was attacked during the Sepoy Mutiny. Carew’s younger brother who was working as the manager, died at the hands of the rebel troops.
After the mutiny was quashed by the British, Robert Carew returned and re-established the factory to great fanfare from the British army and gentry deployed in India. In 1897, a joint stock company was formed with distilleries first in Asansol, then Katni and finally Darshana.
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The machinery and equipment for the sugar mill were supplied by M/S Blairs Ltd from Glasgow, Scotland.
The sugar mill was nationalised in 1973 after the Liberation War.