Buckfast Abbey – Devon, England - Gastro Obscura

Buckfast Abbey

This historic Benedictine monastery brews a booze so toxic that it has often been blamed almost singularly for Scottish hooliganism. 


The lovely, historic Buckfast Abbey in Buckfastleigh, England has been around since the late 1800s and is home to a traditional order of monks who would not look out of place in a Friar Tuck casting call. However, they are also the creators of a popular brand of fortified wine with an astronomical caffeine content which has become the favorite drink of rowdy drunks across the country.

Buckfast Tonic Wine, as it is officially known, has a number of colorful nicknames like “Commotion Lotion,” “Wreck the Hoose Juice,” and “Cumbernauld Rocket Fuel,” all of which give a pretty solid accounting of the drink’s effects. The thick, sugary “wine” began its life as a medicinal tonic but as its more recreational qualities became apparent it began being marketed as a liquor. While Buckfast’s wine does not have a particularly massive alcohol content (around 15%), the hooch does have more caffeine than most coffee, adding an amped-up quality to the drink.

The wine has become especially popular in certain areas of Scotland where the local hooligans (known to many as “neds”) use it to get enough liquid courage to break some faces and public property. The issue has become so bad that concerned politicians have tried to get Buckfast banned entirely, however the motion was not successful.

The abbey itself seems to be removed from the damaging effects of its draught. The grounds are a quiet place of peace and industry in the English countryside, providing bees and produce in addition to their wine export. Not exactly the place that springs to mind when a regrettable drunkenness seems to be the order of the day. 

Strangely the abbey is a nineteenth and twentieth century recreation of a medieval church, whilst a small and unremarkable non-conformist chapel nearby is much older.

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