The Buck(fast) Stops Here: A Eulogy for the Unholy Drink

Buckfast
The end of a disgusting, crime-ridden, oddly nostalgic era may be upon us, as caffeinated wine beverage Buckfast comes under fire for safety issues. Jason Katzenstein for Newsweek

Buckfast, the saccharine tonic wine colloquially known as "Buckie," may be passing on.

Our alcoholic friend—which Benedictine monks in Buckfast Abbey, England, have been concocting since the 1890s—is clinging to its last bit of life, as neighbor Scotland's Parliament is reportedly drafting legislation to ban that sweet, caffeinated nectar of the gods from ever entering the country again.

That is, unless said monks brainstorm a different recipe for good, ol' Buckie. It's not that Buckie contains too much alcohol, as it only stands at about 15 percent ABV. But, like its now-lobotomized cousin Four Loko, authorities are worried about the combination of alcohol and sugar, given Buckie's caffeine content, which seems like enough to kill the Loch Ness Monster—150 milliliters, or three cups of coffee per serving, says The New York Times. Drinking a bottle gave one a buzz equal to drinking eight whole cans of Coca-Cola. If Red Bull gives you wings, Buckfast gives you a jet propulsion engine.

Buckie's makers actually encouraged people to drink it in the 19th century, recommending "three small glasses a day, for good health and lively blood." For some reason, they don't currently hold that it bears medicinal qualities.

I'll never forget the first time Buckie and I crossed paths. We first met on trip to Scotland. At the insistence of friends—who said a night with Buckie was a rite of passage here—I decided to imbibe. Sure, we all knew Buckie was a little rank. But the jolt of life Buckie gave us all was singular, immediate and liberating, like taking off one's pants at the end of a sweltering workday and then immediately jumping into a pool of icy water.

That night, I wiped the syrupy nectar from my lips and traipsed around Glasgow's dewy streets with friends, new and old, before winding up at a cèilidh, a traditional Scottish barn dance. This reporter has two left feet, and the kilt-clad band had to stop playing their instruments during the middle of the shebang to run over and teach the proper steps. Too lit to be embarrassed, I've never howled harder laughing, with trusty Buckie nestled on a bale of hay by my side.

Of course, Buckie wasn't always the purveyor of such positive memories. In the "Buckfast Triangle," the areas of Coatbridge, Bellshill and Airdrie, Scotland, the crime rate has risen dramatically because of wide-eyed drunks going a bit too hard out on the town with Buckie—who, as we remember, was forever an enabler, always rallying for one last drink.

A 2009 report conducted with young offenders in Scottish prisons revealed that 43 percent of people admitted they had had a swig (or five) of Buckfast before they had committed a crime. In the Strathclyde region alone, Buckie got a shout-out in nearly 6,500 criminal reports filed between 2010 and 2012, according to BBC, complicit in petty crimes and heavy offenses alike.

Buck was never in the right place at the right time, and was the kind of friend who was lovely only in small, controlled doses. But Buckie was always there waiting the next time you wanted to make some mistakes. So Godspeed, you wily bastard.

The Buck(fast) Stops Here: A Eulogy for the Unholy Drink | Culture