The Tippler: Buckfast, Luscombe Farm organic drinks

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The Independent Online

Rivalling neighbouring Totnes for wacky alternative-health therapies, Buckfastleigh is probably best known for the lethally strong Buckfast Tonic Wine made at Buckfast Abbey in south Devon.

Rivalling neighbouring Totnes for wacky alternative-health therapies, Buckfastleigh is probably best known for the lethally strong Buckfast Tonic Wine made at Buckfast Abbey in south Devon. The dizzying brew's ratio of price to alcoholic strength caught on so well with the youth of Lanarkshire that the Benedictine monks who made the strange concoction of French red wine fortified with brandy and – here's the health bit – sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate and caffeine, had to tone it down to a more acceptable 15 per cent alcohol. At least it says on the label that Buckfast Tonic Wine, £5.25 a bottle, doesn't imply health-giving properties.

A short hop towards Totnes, Luscombe Farm offers a more therapeutic alternative in the shape of non-alcoholic organic drinks, among them apple juices and ginger beers not to mention elderflower bubbly (which incidentally can't be sold as elderflower champagne in case you and I confuse this traditional British hedgerow lemonade with Dom Pérignon). Luscombe's latest squeeze is St Clements, a zesty marriage of fresh oranges and Sicilian lemons with added spring water and cane sugar. You can buy it and others in the range, including fresh pear and apple juice, which British Airways has just approved for Concorde, from shops such as Fresh & Wild for around £1.30. Luscombe's website address is www.luscombe.co.uk

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