Producers of controversial Buckfast Tonic Wine earn £8.8m

Buckfast Tonic Wine remains popular despite its association with anti-social behaviour. Picture: Toby Williams/TSPL
Buckfast Tonic Wine remains popular despite its association with anti-social behaviour. Picture: Toby Williams/TSPL
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It’s the controversial alcoholic drink that politicians and sheriffs love to hate.

But despite its association with anti-social behaviour, Buckfast Tonic Wine has once again proved its commercial appeal.

Profits from the tonic wine help support the charitable trust that runs Buckfast Abbey in Devon. Picture: Wikicommons

Profits from the tonic wine help support the charitable trust that runs Buckfast Abbey in Devon. Picture: Wikicommons

The monks who produce the wine made £8.8 million in 2014-5, figures have revealed.

The drink is made at Buckfast Abbey in Devon and profits from sales are thought to make up a large percentage of the religious institution’s charitable income.

Figures from the Charity Commission revealed the abbey’s trust’s income was £8.8m in 2014-15, the latest year for which figures are available.

The tonic - known by fans as ‘Bucky’ - was first produced in the 1920s and sold locally. It is now distributed across the UK on behalf of the monks by J. Chandler & Company.

Buckfast has since achieved cult status among younger, urban drinkers in Scotland’s central belt and Northern Ireland.

Last week a sheriff in Dundee claimed there was a “very definite association between Buckfast and violence” as he sentenced a man who smashed a bottle of the tonic wine over the head of a boy at a child’s 15th birthday party.

The abbey said it was “saddened” by the “judge’s opinion” that a “small number of people in Scotland are not enjoying Buckfast in a responsible way”.

The monks have declined to reveal how much of their income comes directly from sales of the wine, citing market confidentiality.

Between 2010 and 2012, Strathclyde Police said Buckfast was mentioned in almost 6,500 crime reports.

Former Labour MSP and Scottish justice minister Cathy Jamieson made headlines in 2005 when she called for retailers to stop selling the drink.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, the national charity on preventing alcohol-related harm, told the BBC that consumption of Buckfast was “very small” compared with overall alcohol consumption in Scotland.