The monks behind a controversial tonic wine have blasted a Scottish confectioner as “highly irresponsible” for making Buckfast flavoured sweets.
Buckfast has struggled to shake off a reputation which has seen the drink directly linked with violent crime and anti-social behaviour.
And confectioners Ross’s of Edinburgh have now concocted the flavour to appeal to “the younger generation”.
The sweets, called Buckfast Flavoured Creams, have only been on sale for a few weeks and there is already a growing demand for them.
But a spokesman for the medieval monastery in Buckfastleigh, Devon, said that this is unwanted publicity.
He said there was concern about children getting a hold of any product associated with alcohol.
He said: “The production of the Buckfast flavoured Rock is highly irresponsible in our view.
“Products which are accessible to children should not be produced using the flavouring of any alcoholic beverages.”
But a spokesman for Ross’s of Edinburgh, who produce the treats, insists that the sweets are just a novelty and that the company are not “introducing” it to young people.
The real thing
He said: “It tastes very close to the real thing. We have a lab that prepares these flavours for us and we obviously replicate the existing flavour.
“But you have to bear in mind that it is going onto a stick of rock or being made into creams so there is quite a high element of sugar in there so it is probably sweeter than the original.
“There’s no alcohol at all and we specify that it’s a flavour that the person is buying rather than alcohol.
“Generally we know what the younger generation are looking at. Ross’s has been around for 120 years doing traditional flavours like blackcurrant, strawberry or raspberry.
“We thought that we’d bring it into the 21st century by introducing flavours that the younger generation would relate to and recognise like Buckfast or Banoffee Pie.
“It puts a smile on someone’s face and the curiosity should, hopefully, make them buy it. Curiosity creates the sale.
“Shop owners are coming to us and asking for the Buckfast specifically because this is what the customers want.
“Like gin and tonic”
“We’re not replicating Buckfast’s product - we’re making a flavour. It’s kind of like gin and tonic in that we’re not replicating anyone’s name.
“Gin is very much a product and lots of manufacturers make it.
“Children already know what Buckfast is - it’s not like we’re introducing it to them and educating them on it. It’s more of a novelty than anything else.”
A 2kg jar of Buckfast Flavoured Creams has been made available to smaller sweet shops and also to the public for £23.40 on the manufacturer’s website.
Yvonne Allmark, 50, who co-owns online shop Allmarks Sweets says that the bizarre flavour has gained a lot of attention in the days since her store started selling them.
Yvonne, from Erskine, Renfrewshire, said: “So far our post on Facebook about it has reached around 20,000 people online - which is around five times what we normally would expect.
“I don’t really like Buckfast myself but it has such a big following in Scotland that we knew we had to have it.
“I’ve tried it myself and I liked it. People who drink Buckfast and have tried the sweet have said to us that there are some similarities and the taste can linger for a while.
“Hopefully if kids think it tastes bad then it will put them off trying the drink.
“I think out of sheer fun and curiosity that it is worth a taste.
“I genuinely don’t think people will have a taste of the sweet and then immediately have a drink of the real thing.”
Last year, a Sheriff in Dundee blasted the “very definite association between Buckfast and violence”.
He was sentencing a thug who smashed a bottle of the wine over the head of a boy at a child’s 15th birthday party.