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Scotland Stays in the United Kingdom: Is the Cause Wine-Related?

In their pre-vote analysis of the push for Scottish independence, The Guardian suggested that fear of losing its cheap supply of Buckfast tonic wine, a highly caffeinated alcoholic drink brewed by Benedictine monks in Devon County, England, may have impacted Scottish voters. With only a five-percent margin separating Scotland from becoming the 197th world country, the question must be asked: could wine have been the deciding factor in Scotland’s vote for independence?

At first skeptical of the link between a fortified wine and a "no" vote for Scottish independence, Guardian reporter Libby Brooks noted a number of "genuine concerns about future access to this highly caffeinated alcoholic drink.” She goes on to point out that Buckfast tonic wine (also known as “Wreck the Hoose Juice”) “is mentioned as a contributing factor in thousands of violent crimes every year in [the] Strathclyde [region of Scotland] alone."

Made exclusively at Buckfast Abbey in Buckfastleigh, Devon since the 1880s, the recipe for Buckfast tonic wine was originally created by the French monks who settled at the abbey in the 19th century and past down to the abbots who make the drink today. Although the recipe was slightly altered in the 1920s (when it began to be distributed throughout the United Kingdom), the 750-milliliter bottles of Buckfast are still made with a base of imported mistelle wine and reportedly fortified with the caffeine equivalent of eight cans of Coca-Cola.

With The Herald reporting record-high sales of (what would amount to) well over $60 million for Buckfast in 2013 and an estimated 60 percent of those sales coming from Scotland alone, it may not be entirely unreasonable to think, for five percent of the voting population, the vote for independence was all just a matter of wine.

We reached out to J. Chandler & Co., makers of Buckfast, but they denied comment.

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