Scientists Have Made Vodka From Crops Inside Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
The aptly, if not slightly insensitively, named ATOMIK is radioactive-free, and the team behind the project are calling it 'possibly the most important bottle of spirits in the world'.
The vodka was created by scientists from both the UK and Ukraine, who spent three years researching the area and looking into the transference of radioactivity to crops grown locally.
They now hope it will help the region to recover economically and are hoping to set up social enterprise The Chernobyl Spirit Company to produce and flog the bottles of vodka.
Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth who worked on the project said he is hopeful bottles of the artisan vodka can be made from the grain which grows near Chernobyl. He plans for 75 percent of profits to be given back to the local community.
Professor Smith said: "I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas.
"Many thousands of people are still living in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement where new investment and use of agricultural land is still forbidden."
For anyone still wary of knocking back booze made from grains grown so close to the spot of the 1986 disaster, don't you worry. Although the team found radioactivity 'above the cautious Ukrainian limit of 20 Bq/kg' within the original grain, once it had been distilled the levels dropped. All the researchers could detect in the alcohol was 'natural Carbon-14' - the same level as you'd find in any bottle of booze.
The distilled alcohol is diluted with mineral water from the deep aquifer within Chernobyl town - just 10km from the reactor - which is also free from radioactivity.
Professor Smith added: "Thirty-three years on, many abandoned areas could now be used to grow crops safely without the need for distillation.
"We aim to make a high-value product to support economic development of areas outside the main Exclusion Zone where radiation isn't now a significant health risk."
The idea also gets the thumbs up from the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management.
Its first deputy head Oleg Nasvit said: "We welcome this initiative to use abandoned lands to help local communities. It is important that we do everything we can to support the restoration of normal life in these areas whilst always putting safety first.
"I'd call this a high-quality moonshine - it isn't typical of a more highly purified vodka, but has the flavour of the grain from our original Ukrainian distillation methods - I like it."
As yet there's a couple of legal loose ends to tie up, but after that The Chernobyl Spirit Company is expected to begin small-scale production of ATOMIK later this year.
Featured Image Credit: University of Portsmouth