Things took a different turn soon.
Komal, Manu Chhabria's daughter, was keen to run Shaw Wallace after her father's death, but the family spat sapped her energy.
As a result, Shaw Wallace first sold its beer business to SABMiller and then its spirits business to Mallya.
There was now no serious rival to Mallya left.
In the bargain, all the unresolved cases between Shaw Wallace and Kishore Chhabria descended on Mallya.
A few months back, mediated by a common friend in Mumbai, Mallya resolved all those issues.
In hindsight, that ought to have been an indicator that he was cleaning up United Spirits to sell it.
Now, with United Spirits all set to become a part of Diageo, there aren't too many local spirits barons of significance and stature left.
True, Kishore Chhabria owns Officer’s Choice, India’s largest-selling whiskey, but he remains a one-brand wonder.
That's more or less true of other players like Radico Khaitan (8PM whiskey and Contessa rum) and Jagatjit Industries (Aristocrat whiskey).
The Indian market is about 240 million cases per annum.
Diageo, once the United Spirits acquisition is done, will control over 50 per cent of it. Pernod Ricard already has about 15 per cent of the market. That leaves small space for Indians.
That's the true import of Diageo's acquisition of United Spirits.
Cartoon: Satish Acharya