A post by Pat
Buckfast tonic wine, a.k.a. Buckie, is 15% alcohol, has more caffeine than Red Bull and is produced by Benedictine monks at Buckfast Monastery in Scotland. It is touted to be a relaxing medicinal tonic but now that it has become a cult drink among Scottish youth, it is also known as The Scourge of Scotland. It is a wine that is intended for tippling but the youngsters swill down the drink on street corners and then apparently go on rampages. Now the monks are being pressured to stop manufacturing the wine or change the recipe by taking out the alcohol and caffeine.
The product brings in millions of Euros for the Church so it’s a dilemma for the monks who have been selling the brew for 90 years. Buckfast Abbey is a charitable trust that funds Roman Catholic schools, churches and other good works. I don’t think they’ll be making that kind of money if they change the recipe as suggested.
The Right Rev. Bob Gillies, Episcopal Bishop of Aberdeen, told BBC the drink is “a scourge against our youngsters and the monks are leading people into sin. By continuing to produce the wine the monks, he says, are betraying Christian values and sowing the seeds of their own destruction.
Robert Hardman describes the problematic drink in The Daily Mail—
For what it’s worth, my own tasting notes read as follows: a feisty, gravy-coloured tincture with strident tones of prune and swimming pool on the nose; a palate blending Dubonnet, cherry cola, Ribena, Benylin, aniseed, communion wine and Hubba Bubba strawberry bubble gum; plus a kick like a chorus line; improved with ice.
And it certainly has no shortage of advocates in Scotland, which consumes half of the world’s entire supply of Buckfast. Beware of its most dedicated consumers, however. Because, according to the police, the politicians, the BBC and a bishop, they may be hyperactive, incoherent and rather violent.
Bien pensant Scottish opinion has long been sniffy about Buckfast Tonic Wine. But this week, the entire liberal Establishment joined forces to attack an entirely legal product otherwise known as Buckie, Wreck The Hoose Juice, Commotion Lotion and a list of other nicknames which are unlikely to trouble the average bottle of Rioja.
This former medicinal pick-me-up has had its critics ever since it was adopted as a pre-match aperitif by Scottish football fans in the Seventies and went on to gain popularity among the thirstier members of the non-working classes. These days, the internet has endless footage of feckless, deadeyed youths trying to do the ‘Buckie challenge’ (down a whole bottle) in a matter of seconds – along with tales of Buckfastfuelled street violence.
This week, the wine was elevated to public enemy number one following a BBC1 documentary called The Buckfast Code. Quoting Strathclyde Police statistics, the programme said that Buckfast had been mentioned in 5,000 crime reports over the past three years.
These are extraordinary allegations. After all, Buckfast accounts for a mere 0.5 per cent of Scottish alcohol consumption. What’s more, the rest of the world manages to drink it very happily without feeling the urge to smash the bottle and carve pretty patterns on the face of the nearest passer-by. But what makes the outcry even more bizarre is the origin of this drink.
Had it been dreamt up by some cynical multi-national, then we might all be up in arms. But Buckfast Tonic Wine is produced by a handful of monks so gentle and disciplined that their idea of appalling behaviour would be, say, talking at mealtimes or sleeping until 6am.
And they couldn’t be much farther removed from the pools of blood and vomit which they are accused of creating in Glasgow. They live and work on the edge of Dartmoor.
So I have come to Buckfast Abbey, the source of this curiously powerful drink.
And the more I wander around this tranquil patch, the more preposterous it seems to blame just 16 cloistered Benedictines in Devon for unleashing bedlam on central Scotland.
So are the monks creating a scourge among Scottish youth or is it a matter of snobbery over the drink of choice for hooligans? Hardman asked one of the monks about the controversy.
I ask him about the attacks on his wine and he looks sad but unsurprised. ‘We have been making our tonic wine for 90 years for everyone, including little old ladies,’ he says.
I’ve heard those little old Scottish ladies are a pretty feisty bunch.