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Buckfast Abbey is the home of Buckfast Tonic Wine, a fortified wine with a very high content of added caffeine, originally produced by monks at the Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England. It was first created in the early 19th Centur...

A fortified wine made by monks in Devon should be exorcised by the Vatican, an American reviewer warned after trying it for the first time. A bit like Marmite, Buckfast Tonic Wine has its admirers and plenty of detractors too. The caffeinated alcoholic drink, which is made with caffeine added to fortified wine, is made by monks at Buckfast Abbey in Buckfastleigh as well under a licence granted by the monastery, and distributed by J. Chandler & Company in Great Britain and others in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Based on a traditional recipe from France, the fortified wine is popular in Scotland, and in Glasgow in particular, where it is seen as being part of the so-called 'ned culture' (non-educated delinquent) and antisocial behaviour. The monks of Buckfast Abbey and their distribution partner, J. Chandler & Company, have repeatedly denied that their product is harmful, saying that it is responsibly and legally enjoyed by the great majority of purchasers.

They also point out that the areas identified with its acute misuse have been economically deprived for decades and Buckfast represents less than 1% of the total alcohol sales across Scotland. The Abbot of Buckfast Abbey, David Charlesworth, said in the past that the tonic wine "is not made to be abused".

One American decided to give the drink a go, perhaps misled into thinking it was a 'wine' rather than the medicinal strange tasting, some would say foul-tasting, fortified drink it is. He posted his review of the drink complete with a picture of the famous yellow-labelled bottled on Reddit and it is one experience he is in no hurry to reiterate.

The poster said the drink - and its 15% ABV strength - is so foul, it ruined his whole evening even when he tried to wash the taste off with a nice Bordeaux afterwards. He warned that Buckfast wine is so revolting it's the Devil's work even though it's been made by monks.

In his post he said: "I poured it into a glass. At first glance it has a very inky almost brownish color that you see in older wines. Very syrupy. the liquid clings to the side of the glass when swirled.

Buckfast Tonic Wine is a caffeinated alcoholic drink consisting of pure caffeine added to fortified wine,[2] originally made by monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England, now made under a licence granted by the monastery, and distributed by J. Chandler & Company in Great Britain, James E McCabe Ltd in Northern Ireland,[3] and Richmond Marketing Ltd in Ireland. It is based on a traditional recipe from France. The wine's distributor reported record sales of 43.2 million as of March 2017.[4]

Despite being marketed as a tonic, Buckfast has become notorious in some parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland for its association with ned culture and antisocial behaviour.[5] High retail sales are recorded in Lurgan, as well as throughout the Central Lowlands including Glasgow and the surrounding areas of East Kilbride, Hamilton, Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Cambuslang, and Coatbridge.

The wine, which is still manufactured using many of the same ingredients, is based on a traditional recipe from France. The Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey first made the tonic wine in the 1890s. It was originally sold in small quantities as a medicine using the slogan "Three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood".[6]

In 1927, the Abbey lost its licence to sell wine. As a result, the Abbot allowed wine merchants to distribute on behalf of the Abbey. At the same time, the recipe was changed to be less of a patent medicine and more of a medicated wine.[6]

The wine, which comes in distinct brands depending on the market, has achieved popularity in working class, student, and bohemian communities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, Buckfast is packaged in a darker bottle, has a slightly lower alcoholic strength, and lacks the vanillin flavouring present in the British version. Buckfast sold in Northern Ireland (where it has been nicknamed "Lurgan champagne") is the same as that sold in the rest of the UK.[7][8]

Several Scottish politicians and social activists have singled out Buckfast Tonic Wine as being particularly responsible for crime, disorder, and general social deprivation in these communities. Although Buckfast accounts for only 0.5% of alcohol sales in Scotland, the figure is markedly higher in Lanarkshire.[21][22] There have been numerous calls for the drink to be banned (either throughout the country or in certain areas or shops), made more expensive to dissuade people from buying the product, or sold in plastic bottles to reduce glassing incidents. Helen Liddell, former Secretary of State for Scotland, called for the wine to be banned.[23] In 2005, Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson suggested that retailers should stop selling the wine. On a subsequent visit to Auchinleck within her constituency, she was greeted by teenagers chanting, "Don't ban Buckie".[24] All of these initiatives have been countered by lawyers acting for Buckfast distributors, J. Chandler & Company, in Andover.[23][25] A further consequence was that Buckfast sales increased substantially in the months following Jamieson's comments.[22]

The monks of Buckfast Abbey and their distribution partner, J. Chandler & Company, deny that their product is harmful, saying that it is responsibly and legally enjoyed by the great majority of purchasers. They also point out that the areas identified with its acute misuse have been economically deprived for decades and Buckfast represents less than one per cent of the total alcohol sales across Scotland.[32] Abbot of Buckfast Abbey, David Charlesworth, has said that the tonic wine his monastery produces "is not made to be abused".[33]

In February 2014, the case was settled without any judgment being made by the court. Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson of Police Scotland apologised to J. Chandler & Co for asking a shopkeeper to stop selling Buckfast and gave written undertakings not to include the product in any bottle-marking scheme unless it has "reasonable grounds" for doing so, and "not to request licensed retailers, situated anywhere in Scotland, to cease stocking for sale Buckfast Tonic Wine".[36] In 2016 sales of Buckfast Tonic Wine reached record yearly profits of 8.8 million. The abbey trust, which is a shareholder of the Hampshire-based wine's distributor and seller, J Chandler, gets a royalty fee for every bottle sold. Although the trust declined to give out specific sales figures, it said it "strives to work with J Chandler and Co to ensure that the tonic wine is marketed and distributed responsibly".[37]

In 2015, a "National Buckfast Day" was set up by fans to honour the tonic wine.[38] The organisers designated the second Saturday of each May National Buckfast Day. The organisers decided to rename the day World Buckfast Day for 2016.[39] By its third year, several celebratory events were held on different continents around the world.[40]

Long before the Espresso Martini, and simpler than mixing a rum and coke, coca wines were another 19th century tonic that aimed to offer an immediate and powerful boost. Made with fortified red wine and coca leaf extract, these wines offered alcohol, caffeine, and cocaine in a single, sweet sip. Coca wine faded out of fashion by the 20th century as consumers became more alarmed at the effects of sipping cocaine, but its legacy lives on in Coca-Cola, which contains caffeine from the coca leaf, sans cocaine.

The recipe for the Tonic wine is attributed to the original French monks who settled at the Abbey in the 1880's. Base wines from Spain, known as mistellas, were imported and to these were added the tonic ingredients according to an old recipe.

By the 1920s 1400 bottles were sold annually, 500 from Buckfast and the remainder by post. In 1927 a London wine merchant was visiting the Abbey, and in conversation with the Abbot, Anscar Vonier, it was decided that the monks would continue to make the Tonic wine with the distribution and sale to be carried out by a separate marketing company. In order to broaden its appeal the Tonic was changed slightly from a rather severe patent medicine to a smoother, more mature medicated wine.

In modern times it continues to be made at Buckfast Abbey along the same lines and according to the same basic recipe as used in the very early days. The main challenge of production lies in the successful addition of inert substances to a base wine - a living and natural entity.

The selection of the base wine is thus of prime importance. Today the base mistellas come from France, and provide the ideal medium for the skill and expertise of the monks to produce a Tonic with a smooth, rounded taste.

[350 Pages Report] The global tonic wine market is expected to reach market valuation of US$ 1.9 Bn by the year 2021, accelerating at a CAGR of 6.1% by 2022-2032. Tonic wine sales forecast remains positive and is expected to total US$ 3.4 Bn globally by 2032.

Globalization, industrialization, and the resulting rapid worldwide access to information about various types of wines, their flavors, and the health benefits of each component added to wine have resulted in a more knowledgeable and empowered consumer base with a more sophisticated understanding of product value. This is paving the way for the growth of tonic wine sales.

For millennia, wine has been an integral component of drinking and eating culture. In fact, some of the oldest wineries date back many centuries. Wine has been improved and altered to derive a variety of flavors, ranging from the light-bodied and fruity flavors of Pinot Noir to the full-bodied taste of Malbec. Because of some of the health benefits that come with drinking wine, tonic wine is becoming one of the world's most popular beverages. 59ce067264


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