Soon you’ll be able to drink radiation-free moonshine from Chernobyl grain

Soon you'll be able to drink radiation-free moonshine from Chernobyl grain
Image: University of Portsmouth Press Service

8 August 2019

A team of scientists have created the first bottle of vodka using crops harvested from the radioactive exclusion area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Named ATOMIK moonshine, the drink was distilled using traditional Ukrainian techniques, with mineral water taken from Chernobyl town, 10km south of the reactor. Despite high radioactivity in the grain itself, the distilling process removes impurities, leaving the spirit safe to drink.

The artisan spirit is the result of a three-year study by researchers in the UK and Ukraine. They wanted to explore how radioactivity is transferred to and from crops grown in the region after it was badly contaminated by nuclear fallout.

ATOMIK vodka isn’t currently available to buy, but team leader Professor Jim Smith, who worked on the project with the UK’s University of Portsmouth, says that he wants to roll out production on a larger scale to bring the spirt to the public.

“I think this is the most important bottle of spirit in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas,” he said.

“Many thousands of people are still living in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement where new investment and use of agricultural land is still forbidden.”

The team is now working with the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management to begin small scale production via The Chernobyl Spirit Company: a social enterprise that hopes to create local jobs and reinvest 75 percent of profits back into the Chernobyl area.

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