Buckfast Tonic Wine, a fortified red wine made since 1890 by the Benedictine monks of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, south-west England, played a role in more than five thousand crimes in the last three years. One in ten of those crimes was violent. The statistics were obtained based on the Freedom of Information Act by BBC Scotland and used in a documentary. ‘Made by monks for drunks’ has long been a popular nickname of this cheap alcoholic product. Other popular nicknames for Buckfast Tonic Wine are Buckie, Wreck the Hoose Juice, Commotion Lotion and Liquid Speed. The empty bottle is moreover a popular weapon during clashes between British, Irish and Scottish drunks.
Buckie has an alcohol level of 15%, tastes sweet and is made with sweet Spanish red wine ( ‘mistella’), caffeine and vanilla using a recipe that French monks brought with them to Buckfast Abbey in the 1880s. Because a bottle of 75cl costs only about 5.5 pounds (approximately 6.3 euros), the drink is especially popular with the poorest in British society. The monks sell a lot of their popular drink: nearly 37 million pounds (42.5 million euros) over the past five years, says the BBC, who also says that the Scots alone spend more than 50,000 pounds (57,500 euros) a day on the drink.
Jim Wilson, of Buckfast distributor J Chandler & Co, says Buckfast Tonic Wine is not the only cheap alcoholic drink on sale. ‘There are no figures for other brands. I’d be very interested to see how they compare without looking at ours in isolation,’ said Wilson in the South Devon Herald Express.