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Buckfast tonic wine.

Eddie Mair | 14:25 UK time, Monday, 18 January 2010

This is the website for the wine that's brought to you by the monks of Buckfast Abbey. It all looks rather lovely.

A BBC Scotland investigation tonight paints a different picture. The Times reports the story like this.

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Jim Wilson from J Chandler and Co the commercial company that distributes the drink denies the Bishop's comments that the drink has led to anti-social behaviour. He says that if the bishop had contacted him he could have explained the accusations were wrong.


  • 1. At 3:38pm on 18 Jan 2010, jonnie wrote:

    I love Buckfast Abbey and that tonic wine. If anyone is passing down the A38 to Plymouth please take a look.

    I rather hope PM will take a look at the crime related figures on a national basis and not just Strathclyde's figures.

    I'm sure more is consumed in Devon for a start...

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  • 2. At 3:48pm on 18 Jan 2010, Big Sister wrote:

    The problems caused by Buckfast are well known and of long standing. I even recall, on Millenium night, sitting with a youth on a London bus and him offering me his bottle of Buckfast. I declined. He was a nice enough lad, though.

    As it's a tonic wine, I'll send a virtual bottle to David to keep by his bed. Good luck, David!

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  • 3. At 3:54pm on 18 Jan 2010, Bridget wrote:

    Will it ease your pain Eddie?

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  • 4. At 4:12pm on 18 Jan 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    All a bit silly really. If production of Buckfast ceased, those who drink it will not stop drinking. They'll change to another brand/drink.

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  • 5. At 4:24pm on 18 Jan 2010, DoctorDolots wrote:

    I hear whisky is very strong too. You can always rely on bishops to come out with something ludicrous and simple-minded.

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  • 6. At 4:45pm on 18 Jan 2010, davmcn wrote:

    Eddie, Didn't we discuss this here some time ago?

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  • 7. At 5:43pm on 18 Jan 2010, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Buckfast = rampaging sub-teens and a carpet of broken green glass on my local playing fields.

    A long-standing problem.

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  • 8. At 5:43pm on 18 Jan 2010, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

    Just don't sell it in Scotland. If it wasn't Buckies they'd drink something else.

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  • 9. At 5:44pm on 18 Jan 2010, patmartin wrote:

    When I wander round the local town centre I see lots of evidence of antisocial behaviour that has been helped on its way by consumption of alcohol and yet when I've tried to find Buckfast Tonic Wine in the town I can't get it. So it would appear that other forms of alcohol have the same effect. It's lovely stuff .

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  • 10. At 5:46pm on 18 Jan 2010, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

    Christians? Like that Tony Blair Christian that did the scary stare at Fern?

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  • 11. At 5:48pm on 18 Jan 2010, Fifi wrote:

    I find myself yet again repeating ... Buckfast is favoured by winos ... bad thing ... wooo big surprise, not ... IT'S NOT NEWS!!!

    Sorry, I'll leave you sensible people to debate this (again).


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  • 12. At 5:57pm on 18 Jan 2010, newlach wrote:

    One does wonder how these Benedictine monks will choose to keep making this wine in light of the what we have heard tonight, but I'm sure they will have the sophistry required! Reverend Gillies spoke of the two principles governing the Benedictine Order - work and prayer. Interestingly, a clever Benedictine broadened the meaning of work to include reading, so: "It's a bit cold in here tonight brother Edward, would you please go out in the snow, cut down a tree, and bring some logs for the fire so that I can continue to enjoy my book!"

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  • 13. At 6:30pm on 18 Jan 2010, JulesP wrote:

    Isn't it about time people started to take responsibility for their own actions rather than blaming others. After all if it is banned they will just drink something else - when I was a teenager we used to drink Thunderbird never ever heard any suggestion that it got banned.

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  • 14. At 7:29pm on 18 Jan 2010, Sue wrote:

    4 years ago we visited Buckfast Abbey. I was struck by the contrast between the very beautiful abbey and peaceful grounds and the sort of environment that people (largely kids) live and hang out when they drink buckie. Where I live it is the drink of choice for young people who leave behind vast numbers of broken bottles in the parks and (otherwise) quiet back lanes.

    Staff at Buckfast Abbey were at pains to say that they produce a tonic wine and it is not aimed at any particular market. However one look around the Benedictine shop at the Abbey tells a different story. All the other wine is marketed with low key (mostly white) labels. Buckfast label is brightly coloured - it is orange with bright eye catching text. It is cleary aimed at a young market. So much for the 'party line'.

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  • 15. At 7:34pm on 18 Jan 2010, nikki noodle wrote:

    Are you or I most perturbed by:
    . the massive amount of caffeine in a bottle of Buckfast? (about 16 cans of cola equivalent)
    . the level of alcohol in a bottle of Buckfast? (about 15% by volume)
    . the price of a bottle of Buckfast? (about £5 or £6)
    . the crime reports that the (emptied) glass bottles are used in criminal acts?
    . the fact that it is brewed by monks?
    . or the moral high ground stood on by several bishops and newspapers?

    I wonder if it is Buckfast that is the cause or if it is the personal and societal(sp) levers that cause criminal acts.

    One Billion Pounds Sterling could do a lot to them that done the 114 incidents of violence in Strathclyde in the last 3 years but that is never going to materialise from HM Treasury

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  • 16. At 7:37pm on 18 Jan 2010, Vincent Anthonies wrote:

    I've many times seen the destructive effects of 'Buckie' in Scotland . And that's the curiosity - Buckfast Tonic Wine is a drink concocted in the south west of England. It's readily available here in the sunny deep south, but has never become the supposed source of social evil it seems to be in Scotland. The universally mad-making cheap white cider maybe, foul vodka certainly, but not Buckie. So, regardless of what your speaker suggested, there can be nothing inherently at fault with the drink itself. Apart from the taste.

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  • 17. At 10:27pm on 18 Jan 2010, Trojanpony wrote:

    I discovered Buckfast for the first time this year on the way to a Glasgow Celtic home match - as an outside guest. Walking to the stadium in a very run down part of Glasgow the hedges and pavements were strewn with rubbish and endless Buckfast bottles. Someone explained it was a legendary drink amongst young people all around Britain. Cheap and gives you a quick hit. It is certainly odd for a religious organisation to be producing and promoting it.

    One of your interviewees suggested correctly that if drunk 'properly' and savoured as intended then Buckfast is fine and should not be scape-goated for the Nation's drinking problems. But the same could possibly be said about guns - ie that they are not inherently bad and could be used properly for self defence or hunting game to eat. But guns are misused which is why we ban them. Buckfast, although not in the same league as guns obviously is clearly being used to get drunk cheaply and quickly leading to a slightly more belligerant kind of drunkenness and therefore some intervention would be a good idea.

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  • 18. At 09:18am on 19 Jan 2010, davmcn wrote:

    I posted a story here some time ago about Brother Adam, the beekeeper at Buckfast, and his mead.

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  • 19. At 10:54am on 19 Jan 2010, mittfh wrote:

    I seem to recall a few years ago there was a media cry about "alcopops" - fruit flavoured drinks with about 5% alcohol, sold for around £1-£2. Despite the fact they were clearly labelled as containing alcohol, and were sold in the alcohol section of stores, campaigners got all uppity and demanded their banning, as (a) they contained lots of alcohol, (b) they were cheap, (c) they didn't taste like alcohol, and (d) the bright packaging could somehow "mislead" youngsters into thinking they were buying a non-alcoholic soft drink.

    Then cheap, strong cider was the target. Then extra strong beer/lager. Then own-brand beer/lager (which was stretching it a bit, since the "Value" brands are only 2%, and once tasted, you never want to repeat the experience again!), then energy drinks (particularly if mixed with spirits)...

    £5 for a bottle of 15% wine? Supermarket own brand sherry often comes in at that strength and price, and British "fortified wines" (i.e. sherry not made in Spain) retail at less. Port is stronger (20%) and retails for slightly more (typically £6-£10), so why aren't they drinking that instead?

    I fully expect "positive feedback" has something to do with the rise of this drink. A few youths in one town started abusing the product then immediately afterwards abusing their town, the media reported it and other youths decided to try copycat. The media reported that and it reached the attention of another group of youths...

    As others have said, the wine is sold in other parts of the UK, as well as around the world, and doesn't appear to be causing a problem anywhere else. So why have the youths of Strathclyde 'discovered' it but youths elsewhere haven't?

    Perhaps Strathclyde Police could encourage an unofficial minimum price for the product, or discourage retailers in problem areas from stocking it? I'd fully expect that such measures would win the support of the public, but would only have a temporary effect until the teens discovered another product.

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  • 20. At 1:26pm on 19 Jan 2010, Xander22 wrote:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the moralising bishop complaining about the production of this product a member of the Anglican Communion, a priest of which recently advocated shoplifting as being acceptable for certain sections of the community? He may be better employed addressing issues within his own denomination before offering advice to the Benedictine Monks of Buckfast.

    Furthermore, he seems to be suggesting that the producers of the wine are somehow culpable for the behaviour of those who choose to abuse it. They are not. The over consumption of the wine, is a symptom of a number of issue which impact upon the lives of the abusers, which include, social exclusion, unemployment, lack of opportunities, and poor education. Perhaps the Bishop would be better employed in using his position to lobby government and encourage the church to which he belongs, to seek a solution to the real problems the abusers face and from which they want to escape.

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  • 21. At 2:36pm on 19 Jan 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Google "Benedictine"!

    15 "One Billion Pounds Sterling could do a lot to them .. but that is never going to materialise from HM Treasury"

    However the Blair administration was able to find 20 billion to make it cheaper to move to the south-east.

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  • 22. At 2:37pm on 19 Jan 2010, Redheylin wrote:

    Burnley Miners' Club in Lancashire, United Kingdom is the world's biggest single consumer of Benedictine liqueur, after Lancashire regiments acquired a taste for it during the First World War. (wiki)

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  • 23. At 10:19pm on 22 Jan 2010, stephen lyons wrote:

    This is just a comment for every member of parliament who uses buckfast as a scapegoat for everything that is wrong with scottish society. I am a buckfast drinker i have been since i was 18 through to my current age of 30. During this period i have never been arrested or cautioned for a drink related offence, bearing in mind that i drink this product on a weekly basis and have 3, 15 year long friends who are in the same catagory as myself and all have long standing and professional careers in 4 diffrent fields. You cant blame one product for what is wrong at the very fabric of scottish mentality, for too long poverty,bad administration, uneducated parenting and a general lack of health education for all the problems of central and western scotland. If you take buckfast tonic wine away from everyone who drinks it, it wont solve any problems it will make a new one, and that is what is our next quick fix of alcohol. will it be lager,vodka? Where will it end until we realise that it comes down to our education of our kids with the fact that they are only copying the behavour of their rolemodels. The scottish nation have to accept the fact that alcohol is killing our nation and creating a generation of criminals who have no knowlage of the crimes they commit, can we really continue this way? All i know is that one product is not to blame so all the tonic wine haters out there have got to realise that any drink that is drunk uneducated is a recipe for chaos.

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  • 24. At 10:32pm on 22 Jan 2010, Sue Luffman wrote:

    I think this is quite ridiculous! I believe that Scotland has one of the highest rates of crime related to alchohol in any case, and not all can be blamed on BFTW.Like all things with alcohol it must be used reponsibly, that's down to the people concerned who buy it. Next we'll be told that drinking tea makes you see pink elephants! Shame on you Rev!

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