‘Monk juice’ linked to violent crime, but the abbots who make it don’t see a problem

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.

A young Scottish driner necking a bottle of 'Buckie'

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:

Chris Henery received 34 stitches after being struck by a Buckfast bottle

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”.

28 responses to “‘Monk juice’ linked to violent crime, but the abbots who make it don’t see a problem”

  1. Stonyground says:

    Not sure if it’s justified blaming a drink for the actions of those who turn into dickheads when they drink it. I have a bit of a problem with the puritanical bunch who want minimum pricing based on the actions of a minority of stupid tossers. Banning or modifying Buckfast because of a few idiots would amount to the same thing surely. Personally I prefer malt based beverages to wine.

  2. Broadsword says:

    I can see the appeal of Buckfast’s high caffiene content.
    I usually fall asleep before I reach the staggering, walking corpse phase of intoxication. Drinking Buckfast would extend my drinking time. I’d be a danger to myself and others from alcohol-fuelled violence augmented by the hallucinatory effects of the caffiene.

    I used to sell energy shots through my wholesale business. They were mainly caffiene and my retailers said it was always the kids who tried to buy them. They do give some people a buzz and I wonder if the young are more susceptible to their effects. I’ve used them once or twice but as a regular coffee drinker they didn’t help much other than having me pissing like an excited slut within thirty minutes of consumption. Alcohol is a duretic as well as caffiene. I imagine Buckfast drinkers must have to “go” frequently and suffer severe dehydration in the morning.

    Not a very xian thing for monks to do, selling this concoction. I’m surprised they don’t make variations such as Arsenic, Mercury, Agent Orange or Vulcanised Rubber flavours.
    “Buckie” gets a mention here:

  3. Har Davids says:

    Not surprising with all the shenanigans of the church. Only this morning I read an article in Der Spiegel about ‘religious’ banks in Germany, both Catholic and Protestant, that seem to speculate in armaments, alcohol, gambling and tobacco; we’re talking about a worth of € 31 billion! What’s a bottle of Buckfast next to that? Makes one if the Vatican isn’t just a subsidiary of the Mafia (or the other way around).

  4. Brian Jordan says:

    [pedant mode]not 75ml,750ml bottle.[/pedant mode] Wikipedia mentions Rab C. Nesbitt going on a pilgrimage to Buckfast Abbey – I must have missed that one.

  5. Broadsword says:

    The monks at Buckfast Abbey will be catholics so I wonder if they’ve had papal endorsement:

  6. ZombieHunter says:

    buckfast is fucking disgusting and I’m surrounded by wankers who drink it but I don’t support any ban on it cos if you ban buckfast they’ll just go and drink something else or if they really want buckfast they’ll still get it anyway like they get cocaince smack and ecstacy and all the other shit that they neds get fucked up on when making peoples lives a misery and even if they do get caught and send to jail they still get their drugs and mobile phones in there illegaly as well as having TVs and playstations at the expense of the taxpayer.

    banning or modifying buckfast won’t make a slight bit of difference and like it’s already said before why tax a decent majority because of the actions of a few wankers, instead of wasting time and money tarring everyone with the same brush why not focus that time and money dealing with the troublemakers, oh of course not that would make sense.

  7. Broadsword says:


    As a Scot I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the term “Celts Disease”. It’s very much in evidence here in Wales too but I’m not aware of any Buckfast tradition. The wasters here tend to go for super-strength lager and white cider. When I’m delivering to convenience stores I often smell customers reeking of fags ‘n’ booze and find myself looking to see what sort of creature would allow itself out in public in that condition. The last time for this was on Wednesday in Llanelli. The creature was a woman pushing a pram as a disguise for nicking purposes no doubt. Her foetal alcohol taxpayers delight I’m sure was left on the living room floor at home with some matches.

  8. JohnMWhite says:

    I agree with Stony and ZombieHunter here, trying to ban Buckfast or force them to change the ingredients isn’t the way to go unless it can be established that there’s significant danger in consuming it. People abuse it and end up acting like tossers, sure, but everyone knows that is what happens with it and they are tossers to begin with if they actively seek it out.

    I don’t have a problem with changing it to plastic bottles, though, and the idea that a monastery would complain about the cost of doing so clearly shows their priority is not social responsibility. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with pointing out the enormous hypocrisy of the monks for entering into and continuing this venture.

  9. ZombieHunter says:

    Oh one other thing

    “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.”

    if they had smashed a vodka bottle or even an irn bru bottle over his head the results would have been the same and I saw that documentary back in january it was a load of shite they had one guy on from the company defending it and the rest was all these moral crusdaing wankers going “THIS SHIT IS EVIL BAN IT”, they also went to a young offenders institution and interviewed a bunch of neds who blamed buckfast for making them do the shit they would have done anyway regardless of how much buckfast they had to drink they don’t need to be drunk or even on drugs to act like pricks.

  10. Broadsword says:


    I imagine they would’ve bit his ears off instead. The drunks by us try to justify their aggression by provoking a response from their potential victim, a sort of “he started it” I suppose. They might ankle-tap a passer-by who’ll naturally turn to see who did it. They’ll be treated to the eloquent yet thuggish, “Who you fuckin’ lookin’ a’ ”
    The frustrating thing is that alone they’re seldom in any condition to defend themselves but numbers are always on their side.

    Alcopops and latterly Buckfast have been demonised but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Two hundred years ago it was gin, although from what I’ve read that really was a problem:

  11. Anonymous says:

    Where’s my Purple Drank?

  12. andrea says:

    I wouldn’t try and force a ban. However, alcohol producers have to take steps to warn people of the problems associated with long-term heavy alcohol consumption.
    Bottles carry messages about safe limits and websites and advertising remind drinkers to be aware of how many units they drink.
    If these monks comply with all of this – assuming it applies in Scotland – then I don’t see what the problem is.

    Mind you, it’s hardly what I’d call ministering to the poor.

    I found out last week that Cistertian – as in cistertian monks – comes from the word cistern. This amused me no end even though I know it refers to a boggy area of ground rather than a toilet.

  13. Newspaniard says:

    Hmmmm… Kinda wondering why preaching against the evils of drink is on this site. We’ve not gone “Quaker” all of a sudden?

  14. Broadsword says:


    Just speaking for myself.
    I’m not preaching against the evils of drink, just ranting about those who lack self-control while intoxicated. If you’ve seen enough of it, it’s easy to wander off-topic. I’m sippin’ whiskey at present but my family and neighbours aren’t at risk. Mind you, Mrs B can keep most blokes in line.

  15. ZombieHunter says:

    @ broadsword

    it’s true neds will start on anyone regardless of wether they’re drunk or sober and they seem to think cos I’m not one of them I must be a “goff” (except I’m not I’m a metalhead) and think they have some sort of right to start on me they’re the sort of wankers who’ll shout some insult at you (with a group of their mates around them of course) amd of you dare amswer back they have the cheek to asky why you’re being cheeky to them, little cunts I hate them more than religious idiots though here in glasgow with all the secterianism and stuff it’s all being carried on by neds, sooner I move away from this shithole the fucking better.

  16. Cindy Flaharty, In Jesus's Name says:

    I am not Catholic, but I am eons more intelligent then you Christ Gougers and Gougers of everything that is sacred. You are NOT FREETHINKERS. A Free-thinker has been freed from the shackles of SIN, of which your previous comments show you haven’t been as yet. If your post is free thinking, you will publish this comment, uncensored!!! To bad the Word of God has to be censored…Ugghh…

  17. Broadsword says:

    It hides beneath the bridge in wait for the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

  18. Sean Reynolds says:

    Reminds me of the Rab C Nesbitt episode about Buckfast where he and the other wino, Jamesy were lying low after stealing anything drinkable from the hospital and went to lie low at the Monastery.

    “We worship you, oh great place of swally! We worship you, oh great place of swally!”

  19. barriejohn says:

    I’m falling about laughing here at the thought of these idiots seeing the warning on a bottle of this evil concoction and saying: “Och, aye, the noo, Jimmy – jus’ look at this. Gotta drink responsibly cussa what the government say”!

  20. Broadsword says:


    What makes me laugh is that a shop chain may do a drinks promotion, let’s say ten litres of white cider for fifty pee. Next to this pallet of head-damage will be a small sign saying “Boozies promotes sensible drinking” as if that’s what the retailer really wants.

  21. Tim says:

    That’s ridiculous, blaming it on caffeine. Large amounts of caffeine don’t do anything other than keep you from sleeping, and a shitload of it causes purely medical problems. Not to mention the fact that the people drinking this stuff drink it a lot…they’d have a tolerance to caffeine. Maybe they should look at the fact that the people are drinking ALCOHOL and committing crimes; if it was the caffeine, why aren’t all those coffee-fueled pencil pushers running amok, raping and pillaging? I’ll admit, the combination of being drunk off your ass and having lots of energy might do something. Really, I don’t think you think it’s because of the drink, I think you just had to attack it because it was loosely connected with religion.

  22. Broadsword says:


    It didn’t take a lot of digging to unearth this article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently stimulants taken alongside alcohol reduce one’s perception of being drunk, but not the impairment. It allows boozers to get more intoxicated:
    When I’m delivering to convenience stores on behalf of my wholesale business I have to run the gauntlet of these arseholes at all times of the day. I saw a fine example of the “cafe culture” the British Govt hoped its 24 hour drinking laws would encourage in Milford Haven yesterday. A group of thirty-something chavs all off their heads sat on the garden furniture on the pavement outside a cafe. It was obvious they weren’t patrons, just using the facilities as a platform to bawdily abuse passers-by. They were drinking vodka from pop cans, surreptitiously topping them up from bottles concealed within their jackets. I kept a low profile so they didn’t vandalise my van when I was in a shop. I’m glad I’m not forced to live in an area where these wasters would make life a misery.

  23. Evan says:

    “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.”

    281mg of caffeine is only about 3 cups of coffee, and it isn’t that high a concentration considering the bottle size. That amount of caffeine also wouldn’t lead to “a heightened state of anxiety and irritability”. Plenty of people drink 3 or more cups of coffee every morning, and they don’t go around throwing glass bottles at people. The problem here seems to be the age of those drinking the wine. Give reckless teenagers any alcohol and they will act just as dumb.

    Don’t hate the drink, hate the drinker.

  24. Tom says:

    Mixing a stimulant with a depressant is generally a pretty bad idea. It’s no surprise that people who are hopped up on caffeine and intoxicated at the same time are going to cause problems.

  25. dave says:

    Never heard of Buckfast over on this side of the pond (USA), but it sounds disgusting.

    But let’s not castigate all monks engaged in brewing, nor speak of bans; by which I mean: hands off my Belgian Trappist Ale!

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  28. April says:

    Zombie – I too am a metal fan and hate drunken scum but you seem VERY angry – perhaps a non-caffeinated low alcohol beverage is in order to calm you?
    Broadsword – you speak sense with humour, I like.
    Cindy – you appear to be a complete nutter and I suggest you go back to posting on your silly religious forums where people understand what the hell you’re on about.
    As for Buckfast – I wholeheartedly agree that it should be sold in plastic bottles – even though in Sheffield it is not all that popular, if you are to find a bottle precariously balanced on a wall or broken on the floor it is often Buckfast – it can’t be that expensive to change and surely this would be a good way for the monks to show some level of social responsibility? It would also mean less weight and less cost to transport around the country and I’m led to believe that is a good thing – I reckon that’s what Jesus would do…