Researchers and scientists working in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have produced an ‘artisan vodka’, the first consumer product produced in the Exclusion Zone since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

The spirit is made from water extracted from the Chernobyl aquifer and rye grown on land in the zone, but it is not actually radioactive, due to the distilling process that produces it. Professor Jim Smith, who’s part of the group behind the vodka, explained to BBC:

“This is no more radioactive than any other vodka,” says Prof Smith.

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

“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.”

The Chernobyl cooling tower
Image: shutterstock

Atomik is produced by a team of researchers who have worked in and studied the exclusion zone, with the hope that any profits they make can be put towards helping communities around the exclusion zone. The area around the power plant still suffers from the economic effects of the disaster, despite much of the land and wildlife having recovered.

At the moment there’s only one bottle of Atomik in existence, but the team behind the tipple is hoping that the novelty factor and charity angle might help it catch on.

It’s hard to believe that Atomik is “no more radioactive than any other vodka”, but after reading about the nuclear disaster or watching HBO’s Chernobyl, an extra strong drink may be exactly what’s needed.