DURING the course of a BBC3 TV programme called Britain’s Disgusting Drinks, screened earlier this week, presenter Alex Riley attempted to get some answers out of the Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon regarding the absurdly high caffeine content of a potent tonic wine they produce.
The drink, Buckfast, commonly known is Scotland as “Commotion lotion” and “Wreck the hoose juice” has been linked by Strathclyde police to over 5,000 crimes – many of them violent – over the past three years, and led Andrew M Brown, of the Daily Telegraph, to comment in January, 2010:
They’re Benedictines and they claim to have a special respect for moral values; they determine what goes into Buckfast; and they make plenty of money out of its sale.
Riley made pretty the same point in his investigation of super-strength “Buckie”, each 75ml bottle of which contains contains 281.25mg of caffeine – equivalent to eight cans of Coke or six cups of coffee – and leads to a heightened state of anxiety and irritability among those who drink it.
His attempts to speak to the abbots at Buckfast Abbey, which is in the process of building a new plant to increase their output of this drink, were completely stonewalled, and no monk would grant an interview.
Basically, he wanted to know why they felt it necessary to add such levels of caffeine to their product, when this had been clearly shown to have adverse effects on those who neck this disgusting stuff.
He did, however, manage to interview to Jim Wilson, the spokesman for J Chandler & Co which distributes the stuff. Wilson was utterly unrepentant, and could see no reason to change a “successful” formula that the monks had been using for decades.
Back in January, Wilson told the BBC that the monks were also resistant to the idea of bottling “Buckie” in plastic to prevent drinkers from using the bottles as weapons. A number of people have been injured by Buckfast bottles, including Chris Henery, who struck by one on a bus. He said:
If it was in a plastic bottle at the time then the guys wouldn’t have a weapon on them and I probably wouldn’t have 34 stitches in my head.
But Wilson said the company will be sticking with glass because the cost of changing to plastic would be “horrendous”.