Why aren’t we all drinking Buckfast?

It wouldn’t be Scotland without it


It’s Saturday night, or at least you think it is. You’ve lost your mates, money and mind – and now you can’t find your keys. Where are they? Who knows. Why did you lose them?

There can only be one answer. Bucky.

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For those untrained in the way of the Bucky, Buckfast is a tonic wine, brewed in Buckfast Abbey in Devon, originally sold as medicine, with the slogan: Three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood”, which, as unlikely as it at first seems, has become a symbol of the Scottish youth drinking culture.

Why? Simple. ‘Buckfast gets you fucked fast’.

It’s definitely an ‘acquired taste’, often described as cough syrup mixed with Jager – but by halfway through the bottle you’ll be sprinting down the street without a shirt on – feeling that you want to punch and hug your best mate with all your might. Forget whiskey – this is Scotland’s national drink.

It’s been called an “irresponsible drink in its own right” and “a badge of pride amongst those who are involved in antisocial behaviour” by two of Scotland’s leading ministers. Its also the only drink below 30% behind the counter of most corner shops and remains the only thing I’ve ever seen a cashier try and stop someone from buying. One cashier said to a mate: “You’re wasting yourself, son.”

So what makes this drink such a force to be reckoned with? 

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The answer is pretty unclear at first. It’s only 15% alcohol content, you wouldn’t immediately assume that this drink would be a first choice for someone looking to get wasted; your mum probably has glasses of stronger stuff with dinner. What’s more is that it’s not even that cheap, coming in at around £7 a bottle, a price which could get you litres of cheap, strong cider. The answer however is caffeine – lots and lots of caffeine. 

In fact, Buckfast contains more caffeine per 100ml than pretty much anything else on the planet. Drinking Buckfast is like drinking jagerbombs on steroids, all packaged up in a nice, handy, green bottle. What’s more, Buckfast is a guilt free experience, having been produced by holy benedictine monks in Buckfast Abbey in Devon. If they served this at communion I’d be tempted to convert, it would at least make the service a lot more lively.

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It even comes in small bottles

This, in a way, symbolises why this drink is so important; it may sound pretentious, but Buckfast is a social leveller, enjoyed by anyone looking for a good night out – there’s really no other drink like it. The very fact that on an average Scottish housing estate, it makes up 35% of the litter, yet is still served in bars, pubs and clubs, and even abbeys, means it crosses all kinds of social boundaries.

It’s part of what unifies this country; one nation under Bucky, whether you’re and English monk or a Scottish ned. I mean let’s face it, deep down, who doesn’t want to be rushing down the road, not caring what the time is, blissfully looking for the afterparty?

Buckfast is open to all, so come on in and join the party.