Chernobyl Spirit Company hope to produce 500 bottles of Atomik vodka and sell it to the increasing number of tourists.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on August 8, 2019

An artisan bottle of vodka has been grown from the water and rye in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster.

Thirty three years after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, considered to be worst nuclear accident in mankind, Atomik vodka is the first consumer product to come from the abandoned area around the damaged nuclear power plant.

A team of researchers, including Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth, UK, who have worked in the exclusion zone for many years studying how the land has regenerated since the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986, started the Atomik grain spirit project by growing rye on a farm in the zone, BBC reported.

“Our idea then was (to use that rye grain) to make a spirit,” they said.

The team hopes to use profits from selling it to help communities in Ukraine still affected by the economic impact of the disaster.

Gennady Laptev, a scientist based at the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute in Kiev and also a founding member of the newly created Chernobyl Spirit Company, said that the rye grain and the resulting spirit show how some of the land could be used productively.

“We don’t have to just abandon the land,” he said. “We can use it in diverse ways and we can produce something that will be totally clean from the radioactivity.”

Prof Smith told the BBC that Atomik vodka is no more radioactive than other vodka.

“Any chemist will tell you, when you distil something, impurities stay in the waste product,” Prof Smith said.

“So we took rye that was slightly contaminated and water from the Chernobyl aquifer and we distilled it.

“We asked our friends at Southampton University, who have an amazing radio-analytical laboratory, to see if they could find any radioactivity.

“They couldn’t find anything – everything was below their limit of detection.”

With only one bottle produced so far, it will be a while before Atomik martinis are available – but the team hope to produce 500 bottles this year, selling it initially to the increasing number of tourists who now visit the exclusion zone.