Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Buckfast tonic wine most popular alcoholic drink in Lurgan

Tonic wine accounts for a quarter of booze sold in town

By Christopher Woodhouse

Published 03/02/2014

Buckfast tonic wine most popular alcoholic drink in Lurgan
Buckfast tonic wine most popular alcoholic drink in Lurgan
Buckfast Abbey, home of the powerful fortified wine

Buckfast Tonic Wine now accounts for a quarter of all booze sold in Lurgan off-licences.

The Co Armagh town's fondness for the fortified wine has earned it the nickname Lurgan Champagne, in one supermarket it's second only to milk in popularity.

Assistant Manager at Morrow's Supervalu in the town, Jenny McGaffin, said of ‘Buckie's' popularity: “It would be our second biggest seller behind milk.”

Last weekend a rumour was doing the rounds on the internet that the drink, manufactured at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, was about to cease trading.

It was alleged that due to shipping and manufacturing costs, production would come to an end with only 12 shipments left to be distributed throughout the UK and Ireland.

Fortunately for Lurgan purveyors, it was untrue. Jenny said: “There would have been a riot here if Buckfast ran out.”

The unique ability of the syrupy 15% wine to sell itself is noted by Rachelle Banks of the Wine Company in High Street.

Rachelle commented: “We don't even have it on display. It stays under the counter in a chiller. I can think of only four customers who don't like their Buckie chilled.

“You could sell 80 palettes a week between bottles and half bottles.

“In our Belfast outlets you might only sell two cases a week, so it's definitely a Lurgan thing.”

The drink is famed for it's high caffeine content and has been blamed for anti-social behaviour in Scotland, where it has been branded as ‘Wreck the Hoose Juice' and ‘Commotion Lotion'.

Police Scotland have this weekend apologised to Buckfast's distributors for asking a shopkeeper there to stop selling the product.

Buckfast's lawyers took a case against what was Strathclyde Police to the Court of Session in February 2013. They complained that officers had encouraged some retailers to attach police stickers to bottles of Buckfast and some other alcoholic drinks.

The system, known as bottle marking, allows the police to trace bottles associated with crime back to the store from which they were purchased.

J Chandler and Company argued that the anti-crime labels were being used illegally and in a way that discriminated against its brand.

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