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February 04, 2010

Single brand of booze made by monks blamed for all Scottish ills

Posted on Thu Feb 4 2010

Buckfast

It's rare to see a news story rip a brand to bits quite like this New York Times piece on Buckfast Tonic Wine. Despite being made by Benedictine monks in England, Buckfast is apparently the trigger for all manner of sinful behavior in Scotland—the root cause, it seems, of almost all of that country's problems. Consider the data: In one survey, 43 percent of Scottish prisoners who'd committed a crime while drunk said they'd drunk Buckfast. In a study of litter at a housing project, 35 percent of the items turned out to be Buckfast bottles. And in a single Scottish police district, Buckfast was mentioned in 5,638 crime reports from 2006 to 2009, with the bottle used as a weapon in 114 of them. Critics say the drink, which offers a potent mixture of alcohol and caffeine that makes you both tipsy and bouncy, is a recipe for violence. "It'll blow your head off," says one man, not meaning that as a compliment. Plus, the stuff doesn't even taste good, evidently. "Have you ever tried Benalyn cough syrup?" says one person. Adds another, who drinks a lot of the stuff: "You get used to it." The best thing the reporter can say about the brand is that it "comes in an attractive bottle illustrated with a friendly-looking bunch of grapes." (Imagine if they had an animal on there.) The story's otherwise unfriendly stance would seem to be a problem for Buckfast, until you realize that a certain notoriety won't hurt sales one bit. In fact, after reading the piece, you find yourself thinking: Do they sell this stuff on this side of the pond?

—Posted by Tim Nudd

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