Buckfast Linked To Over 40 Percent Of Arrests In Scotland
In the late 1800s, the Benedictine monks at an abbey in Devon made their first batch of Buckfast tonic wine. They sold it on in modest quantities under the slogan 'Three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood'.
Over a century later the Buckfast Abbey is churning the stuff out in staggering quantities, for which the monks receive some pretty hefty tax-free royalties. In fact, last year alone they reportedly pulled in £6million ($7.9m).
Meanwhile, 450 miles to the north in Glasgow, it's an altogether different picture. Despite one keen Amazon reviewer referring to it as "the elixir of life", this seemingly innocent and, let's face it, pretty disgusting beverage, has caused its fair share of problems in some of Scotland's poorest areas.
In 2015, the Scottish Prison Service found that Buckfast had been a significant factor in the arrests of over 40 percent of its inmates. That statistic is made all the more shocking when you take into account that Buckfast accounts for only half a percent of Scotland's total alcohol sales.
Of the crimes committed, many are violent and tend to occur in the area between Airdrie, Coatbridge and Bellshill - often referred to as the Buckfast Triangle. Coatbridge alone, with a population of 40,000, is estimated to account for 10 percent of the drink's total sales.
Buckfast is consistently linked to assaults, domestic violence, criminal damage and even murders. It's well known for making drinkers want to fight and for getting people an altogether 'different type of drunk'.
So why is that? Do the monks work some kind of magic on it? Does the fact it's brewed in an abbey give it supernatural powers? Maybe, but it's probably more likely to do with the amount of caffeine the stuff contains.
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At around seven quid a bottle, Buckfast might not be the strongest booze on the shelf at the offy, but it certainly packs the most punch. A single bottle is only 15 percent alcohol, but contains as much caffeine as eight cans of Coke.
Put the two together and there's no question why the stuff has earned itself nicknames like 'Wreck the Hoose Juice' and 'Commotion Lotion'.
Earlier this year, The National Secular Society said that the Buckfast Abbey Trust should be stripped of its charitable status, which exempts it from paying taxes. The group accused the monks of profiting from selling dangerous wine.
Since 2004, the Trust has made around £88m ($116m) in royalties from each bottle, which the National Secular Society says is an 'abuse of the charitable system'.
Speaking to The Guardian, Abbot David Charlesworth said: "I don't want Buckfast Abbey to be associated with broken bottles and drunks. But is the product bad? No."
Elsewhere, Buckfast sales are growing - particularly in the south of England, due to a fresh marketing campaign.
The brand is making a grappling attempt to claw its reputation back by targeting other parts of the British Isles and suggesting that Buckfast might be used to make cocktails.
In fact, Buckfast has climbed onto trade magazine The Grocer's list of Britain's top 100 selling alcohol brands, at 91.
However, whether it actually manages to catch on remains to be seen.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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