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Tonic wine monks attacked by bishop over Buckfast

A bishop has attacked the Devon-based Benedictine monks who make the fortified tonic wine Buckfast, accusing them of betraying Christian values.

The Right Rev Bob Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, is the first senior clergyman to publicly criticise the morals of the monks of Buckfast Abbey.

Speaking on BBC Scotland, Gillies said, ‘what sort of moral double-take is there that these monks can be so closely associated with that product and knowingly aware of the social and medical damage it is doing’.

‘St Benedict would have been very, very unhappy with what his monks are doing nowadays’, he added.

Gillies was speaking in response to an investigation by the BBC, which found Buckfast, commonly known as Buckie, was mentioned in 5,000 crime reports in the last three years by Strathclyde Police, Scotland’s largest police force, with the bottle used as a weapon 114 times.

The monks have always claimed they are not responsible for the antisocial behavior that results from the widespread misuse of their 15% proof product.

A 75cl bottle of Buckfast, whose nicknames include Commotion Lotion and Scranjuice, costs around £5.49 and contains as much caffeine as eight cans of Coca-Cola.

Jim Wilson of J Chandler & Co, distributors of the tonic wine, insists the monks are not to blame for its effects.

‘Why should they accept responsibility? They’re not up there pouring Buckfast down somebody’s throat’, he said.

Scots spend over £50,000 a day on Buckfast, which has total annual sales of £37m.

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Written by Lucy Shaw

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