Scientists have concocted the first consumer product from the Chernobyl exclusion zone since the nuclear explosion—it’s an “artisan vodka” distilled from water and “slightly contaminated” rye from the site.
The team’s lead researcher, Prof Smith, told the BBC that profits from the vodka will aid communities still affected by the 1986 catastrophe.
You’re likely wondering how safe the grain spirit is. Prof Smith assured that it’s “no more radioactive than any other vodka” despite its rye being “slightly contaminated.”
“Any chemist will tell you, when you distil something, impurities stay in the waste product,” he explained. The team thus distilled the Chernobyl-grown rye and water from the disaster zone, then asked scientists at Southampton University to detect the drink for any radioactivity.
The alcohol turned out to be clean, Prof Smith reported, adding that “everything was below their limit of detection.”
The ‘Atomik’ project proves that the exclusion zone can be used productively, and should not be avoided due to its past.
It’s been 30 years since the incident, the professor reminded. “I think the most important thing in the area is actually economic development, not the radioactivity,” he said, detailing that the land can be used as an economic resource for residents in the area.
The BBC handed the drink to Sam Armeye from Soho’s Bar Swift, who tasted the product. ‘Atomik’ isn’t made with potatoes like traditional vodkas, “so it has much more fruity notes,” Armeye reported. “You can still taste the rye.”
He also recommended using the spirit to prepare a classic martini or as a mixer with champagne.
Thus far, the scientists have only produced a bottle, but plan on preparing 500 units this year. Find out more here.