Monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon earned £8.8 million last year, according to new figures released by the Charity Commission.
A large proportion of the income to their charitable trust – which is
at a five-year high – came from sales of Buckfast Tonic Wine, a
caffeinated alcoholic drink made on the premises since the 1920s.
The drink has been linked to violent crime in Scotland, with one
recent case involving a teenager who drank two and a half bottles of the
beverage before carrying out an attack on a boy.
A spokesperson for the abbey said they were “saddened” that some
people in Scotland “are not enjoying Buckfast Tonic Wine in a
responsible way”, adding that the majority of people who drink the wine
do so responsibly.
In their annual report for 2014-15, which includes their latest
statement of financial activities, the trustees say the wine “has proved
to be a valuable source of revenue for the charity and enabled it to
build up its reserves and allow the trustees to advance its charitable
When asked by The Tablet whether the monks would consider changing
the ingredients of the wine – the caffeine element in particular, which
research increasingly suggests is a concern – a spokeswoman said
decisions about ingredients or distribution would be “for the licence
holder to make”.
The abbey is a shareholder in the company J Chandler
which distributes and sells the wine for them. The abbey gets a royalty
fee for every bottle sold.
As well as income from ‘Bucky’, as the wine is known colloquially,
the Benedictine monks also raise funds through their conference centre,
hotel and restaurant.
The new 33-bedroom Northgate House was completed
in 2015, with premium rooms costing £119 per night.
A spokeswoman declined to say what percentage of income was raised by these assets.
The Benedictine community at Buckfast holds net assets of nearly £56
million, according to their financial statement, and are planning
maintenance works of approximately £4.6 million.