Buckfast Tonic Wine

I am under the impression Buckfast has a bit of a reputation in Scotland. I’d heard various rumours about its intimate entanglement with anti-social behaviour, so upon spotting a bottle in an off-licence in Dolgellau in May 2009, I had to buy it. Purely in the name of research you understand. With 15% ABV and 37.5mg/100ml caffeine on the label I had this stuff pegged as mental juice.

Buckfast Tonic Wine

The reason why I haven’t opened it until now is I was assuming it was going to be disgusting. Having been out on the town for the evening, a little Dutch courage inside me, I decided to finally open the bottle. Considering I’d had this in the cupboard for over a year, it occurred to me it might have gone off. I looked for a Use By date, but the only number that could have been relevant read ’08-251-4′, which doesn’t look like any date system I’m aware of. Maybe it’s different in Scotland [turns out it’s made in Devon!]. I suspect this isn’t something aficionados buy cases of to age so it may be past its best, though the lack of a Use By date probably mean it lasts forever.

The Buckfast Tonic Wine was rather sweet on smelling it. A bit sickly in all truth. A remarkably dense drink, so opaque that holding it up to a lamp you couldn’t see through it. For a red wine based drink, it wasn’t particularly red. More like cola in colour.

There was a rather heavy vanilla flavour going on, almost like it had ice cream in it and it was thick like port. In fact it was like port with ice cream in it.  More like an alcopop than wine really. From my first sip I wondered if I was actually going to manage to drink any more, but I kept at it and before I knew it most of the bottle was gone. The smell was quite off-putting.

There was a strange effect from it – very rapid. If I went twenty minutes without drinking it, I’d suddenly feel very tired (it was quite late, incidentally). Neither caffeine nor alcohol switches this quickly so looking into the contents on Wikipedia, I discover it has sodium glycerophosphate in it. Wikipedia claims it can be converted into energy by the body even quicker than glucose (which I believe is pretty quick!), probably explaining the up-down effect.

I am unlikely to buy another bottle but I’m glad I finally drank it.

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