Buckfast to trial cans - 'possible' to extend to Ireland

By Conor Hallahan

The makers of Buckfast have confirmed that they are to trial sales of the popular tonic wine in cans.

An initial trial of the 25cl cans will go on sale in the UK and the North in the coming weeks, with the tipple priced at €2.90 (€3.56) per tin.

A spokesman for the company said that negotations were also ongoing with regard to making the smaller unit available for sale in the Republic, and that it was "possible", depending on the success of the initial trial.

"We've ordered 55 pallets of the tins initially," Stewart Wilson, sales manager for Buckfast’s distribution company J. Chandler, told breakingnews.ie.

"It will go on sale on a trial basis in the UK and Northern Ireland, and we'll see how that goes.

"We'll assess how consumers have responded to it and analyse our data," Mr Wilson said, adding that he hoped the smaller unit would eventually be on sale in the Republic.

Mr Wilson insisted that the taste of the drink would not be affected.

"We've done extensive testing and it's exactly the same from the tin as it is from the bottle," he said.

"In fact, I think the tin holds the chill a little better."

Made to an age-old recipe on behalf of the Benedictine monks in Buckfast Abbey, Devon, the sweet tonic wine has been the subject of criticism in recent years owing to its popularity with street drinkers, students and other communities in parts of the UK, particularly in Scotland.

The drink has been criticised by politicians in Scotland for perceived links to anti-social behaviour. Police in Strathclyde said Buckfast had been mentioned almost 6,500 crime reports in the area of Scotland between 2010 and 2012, according to the BBC.

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil in December called on the monks to "stop making it" or at least "stop selling it to young people".

Buckfast contains 15% alcohol by volume, equivalent to around 11.25 units, and the same amount of caffeine in each bottle as in eight cans of Coke.

However its distributors insist that it is not the drink itself that is resonsible for ant-social behaviour.

"The new 25cl can is ideal for the barbecue season, enabling people to enjoy a glass of Buckfast chilled over ice," Mr Wilson said.

"Some people prefer it like that, others like to consume it at ambient temperature."

Mr Wilson also said that the company had been working develop a range of Buckfast cocktails as well as recipes, designed in conjunction with a Michelin-starred chef, that required a measure of the drink.

"That was another reason to trial the cans," he said. "We want to enourage people to try cooking with Buckfast without having to buy a bottle."

Mr Wilson said the new cans of Buckfast would feature a QR code which consumers could scan using their smartphone, enabling them to access information on recipes and cocktails made with Buckfast.

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