A bishop has condemned Buckfast, the fortified wine made by monks and regarded by some as the scourge of Scotland. The Right Rev Bob Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, accused the Devon-based Benedictine monks of betraying Christian values.
Bishop Gillies is the first senior clergyman to criticise the monks of Buckfast Abbey, who have always claimed they are not responsible for the antisocial behaviour that results from the widespread abuse of their product.
Speaking on BBC Scotland Investigates, to be broadcast tonight, Bishop Gillies said: “What sort of moral double-take is there that these monks can be so closely associated with that product and knowingly aware of the social damage as well as the medical damage it is doing to the kids who take it in such vast volumes?”
He added: “The monks at Buckfast are in a Benedictine monastery, which is founded upon the rule of St Benedict. Benedict urged his monks to live a simple life following a rule that leads them into closer discipleship with the Lord.
The recipe is attributed to the original French monks who settled at the Devon abbey in the 1880s. They mixed imported base wines from Spain, known as mistellas, with tonic ingredients, a process that has changed little to this day
A 75cl bottle of “Buckie” has 15 per cent alcohol by volume, contains many times the amount of caffeine found in a can of Coca-Cola and costs from £5.49. The drink is also available in 35cl and 1 litre containers
More than half of all Buckfast is consumed in Scotland. Dubbed the “Buckfast belt”, Lanarkshire has the highest sales (believed to be in the region of 10 per cent) where the drink is known as Coatbridge table wine, referring to the Scottish town in which Buckfast is so popular. Several establishments offer the drink on tap
It is estimated that Scots spend more than £50,000 a day on the drink, which has total sales of around £37 million a year
54 per cent of “dangerous litter” found on Scottish housing estates is broken Buckfast bottles according to research by Glasgow Caledonian and Dundee universities
The drink has a range of nicknames including Wreck the Hoose Juice, Mrs Brown, Commotion Lotion, Bottle of fight the world, Bottle of beat the wife, Liquid speed and Scranjuice. The comic creation Rab C. Nesbitt was so fond of Buckie that in one episode he travelled the length of Britain to visit Buckfast Abbey
There are more than 200 groups dedicated to Buckfast on Facebook.
Buckfast in the Republic of Ireland has slightly lower alcohol content and is sold in a brown bottle rather than the green bottle found in the UK