University of Portsmouth scientist begins selling 'ATOMIK' vodka made with apples from Chernobyl's radioactivity exclusion zone

A SCIENTIST from the University of Portsmouth has launched a vodka made with apples from an area around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone – but the academic says the spirit is no more radioactive than other drinks.

By Richard Lemmer
Saturday, 16th October 2021, 4:55 am

The first bottles of ATOMIK apple vodka go on sale todayfrom The Chernobyl Spirit Company, a social enterprise set up by a team of Portsmouth and Ukranian scientists.

The vodka is being made by a Ukranian distillery using apples from the country’s Narodychi District, which is partly covered by the Chernobyl exclusion zone, an area abandoned after the catastrophic 1986 nuclear disaster.

Working in the zone has landed the project in legal hot water, with its first UK shipment being seized by Ukrainian prosecutors - before a court hearing found no fault in the Chernobyl Spirit Company’s activities and ordered the shipment’s release.

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Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth and the Atomik vodka brewed from apples near Chernobyl. Picture: University of Portsmouth

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Now the company plans to use 75 per cent of the vodka’s profits to support Ukranian communities and nature conservation in affected areas, according to the University of Portsmouth’s Professor Jim Smith.

Professor Smith, who has spent more than 30 years studying on radioactive pollution, said: ‘We have spent our careers working on the consequences of Chernobyl and believe that the accident’s social and economic impacts are now a much bigger problem than the radiation. We hope our social enterprise will help support Ukraine’s long recovery from Chernobyl.’

To produce the vodka, Professor Smith and his team diluted the distilled alcohol with mineral water from a deep aquifer underneath the town of Chernobyl.

Dr Gennady Laptev, a member of the team and a Chernobyl ‘liquidator’ who worked in the zone in the first weeks after the accident, added: ‘We hope our social enterprise will help people affected by the devastating social and economic impacts Chernobyl had on communities.’

The vodka is being made at the Palinochka Distillery, whose director Viktor Feer also participated in the emergency response following the Chernobyl disaster.

Viktor said: ‘ATOMIK is a premium 5x distilled spirit: it is robust but smooth with clear hints of apple reminiscent of a beautiful Ukrainian autumn.’

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