Buckfast cans: the perfect BBQ accompaniment?
Buckfast will be sold in cans for the first time and the Benedictine monks that brew it in Devon hope they will be a hit with barbecue fans over the summer.
Producer J Chandler and Company said it has mulled over a smaller serve for some time and decided to take the plunge after Michelin starred chef Martin Blunos started using a 25cl measure of Buckfast in his cooking.
It will release 16,000 of the 25cl cans, retailing at £2.90, and roll them out if they prove a hit with barbecue fans.
Sales manager Stewart Wilson said: “The public health minister for Scotland called on businesses to promote responsible consumption of alcohol and make smaller measures of wine available to consumers in January.
“That’s when we decided we should look at bringing Buckfast out in a smaller unit.
“Bringing out any new product can be deemed as a risk in terms of, ‘Will it affect business or detract sales from the bottle?’ So, at this stage, we’re just bringing it out as a limited edition.
“But we do believe it will be successful with the summer months coming in. Some of our customers will be going to barbecues and a chilled can of Buckfast would be the ideal product to take along.”
But in Scotland – where the tonic wine was mentioned in around 6,500 crime reports between 2010 and 2012 – commentators hope it will lead to a drop in bottle attacks.
Dr Peter Rice, chairman of the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “There are upsides and downsides.
“The police view is there'd be a lot less hassle if some products weren't in glass bottles and there's been research pointing to the environmental impact of glass.
“Buckfast have resisted moves towards plastic bottles so I think on balance this is a move in the right direction.”
“Buckie” has an abv of 15%, but politicians have also criticised its caffeine content, claiming that one 75cl bottle of Buckfast contains about 280mg of caffeine – the equivalent of eight cans of Coke.
Scottish health minister Alex Neil has previously said it would be “ideal” if the monks stopped producing it altogether.
After the smaller serve was announced, the Scottish government said: “Clearly, it is important that people have the ability to choose a smaller measure if they wish.
“However, time and time again, the research proves that affordability is the key factor in the misuse of alcohol and that the most effective way to tackle this is by setting a minimum unit price.
“This is about targeting the drink that is cheap relative to strength, which causes so much harm within communities, often in the most deprived areas of Scotland.”
The Scottish government is locked in a lengthy legal battle with the Scotch Whisky Association over the minimum unit pricing law it has tried to introduce, with a European court set to rule on the matter in the months ahead.