A TONIC wine produced for a West Lothian distiller is proving a huge hit in the Caribbean.
Wincarnis tonic wine is virtually unheard of in Scotland despite having been around for more than 120 years.
But the brew, which is made by Broxburn-based Ian Macleod distillers, is going down a storm in the Caribbean and is one of the biggest-selling duty-free bottles in the Gulf.
In Jamaica, Wincarnis, which is latin for meat wine, is used as a party drink and widely thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Meanwhile in Singapore, Malaysia and the Gulf, women who have just given birth drink the wine to help aid their recovery and give them a daily dose of vitamins.
Although Buckfast remains Scotland’s favourite tonic wine, Wincarnis has been flying off the shelves abroad and bosses at Ian Macleod say it is one of their top performers. But the wine, which was established in 1877 by a mustard maker, sells poorly in Scotland.
With its red-orange colour and sweet taste, Wincarnis, which used to use meat extract as one of its main ingredients, just cannot seem to break the native market which Buckfast has conquered.
Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod, said the brand had been neglected in Britain and it would need a mammoth effort to get the public to buy it.
He said: "Wincarnis has been around since the 1880s and it is a fortified wine with a mixture of wine and health herbs and spices.
"It was developed as a tonic wine for its healthy properties.
"New mothers in Singapore, Malaysia and the Gulf take small quantities of it every day to boost their iron, vitamins and minerals.
"Its other big market is Jamaica where it is part of the culture and is a party drink. It is drunk more like how we drink Red Bull and is used in many cocktails.
"I think it is even mixed with Guinness and milk and it is reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
"It has been around for a long time and it has been a bit neglected here.
"Older people are still aware of it but it would take a complete re-launch of the brand to make it sell here. It is still available but does not sell that well."
The label on the bottle describes the unique taste of Wincarnis.
It says: "A superior British wine made from imported grape juice, to which has been added the famous Wincarnis formula containing malt and meat extracts."
While the wine no longer contains meat extracts its exact recipe remains a closely-guarded secret.
Leonard Russell added: "It has not contained meat for a long time but used to have meat extract in it.
"It doesn’t taste meaty though. It tastes a bit like a sweet sherry and is a ruby port colour."
Iain Weir, head of marketing at Ian Macleod, said they are amazed by Wincarnis’s success abroad. He said: "Wincarnis is a top-selling item in duty free in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and all other duty free outlets in the Gulf. It is very successful in the Far East, Middle East and Caribbean."
The wine has an alcohol content of 14 per cent and costs around 8 per bottle.
Wincarnis is made for Ian Macleod by Broadland Wineries in Norfolk.