Buckfast Monks See Income Rise To £8.8M

14 December 2016, 12:05 | Updated: 14 December 2016, 12:08

Monks who make a tonic wine linked with anti-social behaviour and violence in Scotland have made £8.8 million in a year.

The caffeinated drink Buckfast, sometimes known as Bucky, is made at Buckfast Abbey in Devon and is highly popular in parts of Scotland.

Figures from the Charity Commission showed the Buckfast Abbey Trust made £8.8 million in the financial year ending October 31, 2015, up from £7.9 million the previous year.

The fortified drink has been linked to offending and anti-social behaviour in Scotland.

The Scottish Prison Service last year found that 43.4% of inmates had consumed Buckfast before their last offence despite accounting for less than 1% of total alcohol sales nationally.

Last week, a Sheriff in Dundee reportedly said there was a "very definite association between Buckfast and violence''.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard of a boy who drank two-and-a-half bottles before carrying out an attack, the Daily Record reported.

Sheriff Alastair Brown said: "There is, in my professional experience, a very definite association between Buckfast and violence.

"Those of us who have practised in any capacity anywhere in the west of Scotland have been particularly aware of that but I've seen it in this court as well - and also in Dundee High Court.''

The recipe for the tonic wine is attributed to the original French monks who settled at the Abbey in the 1880s.

By the 1920s the abbey sold 1,400 bottles a year and in 1927 a marketing company took over distribution and sales.

Buckfast Abbey would not comment on what proportion of income came from sales of the tonic wine.

A Buckfast Abbey spokeswoman said: "Buckfast Abbey's charitable trust, the Buckfast Charitable Trust, exists to support the religious community at Buckfast Abbey and those engaged in charitable works.

"The trustees work hard to ensure the trust generates a healthy level of income so it can continue to provide this support.

"As such, the trust makes money in a number of ways. Whilst the tonic wine does generate an income, the new hotel-style accommodation at Buckfast Abbey and the recently-renovated conference centre have also contributed to the increase in income that the trust received in the year to end October 31 2015.

"With regards to the recent comments made by Sheriff Alastair Brown, we are saddened to hear that, in the sheriff's opinion, a small number of people in Scotland are not enjoying Buckfast Tonic Wine in a responsible way.

"Buckfast Abbey's charitable trust is a minority shareholder in the company that sells the wine, J Chandler and Co.

"As such, the trust strives to work with J Chandler and Co to ensure that the tonic wine is marketed and distributed responsibly.

"The majority of people who drink the tonic wine do so responsibly. We fully support the efforts of charities such as Drinkaware, who work to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK.''