University of Portsmouth professors behind Chernobyl 'radioactive-free' vodka donate profits to Ukrainian refugees

A DRINKS firm set up by Portsmouth academics who have made ‘radioactive-free’ vodka in Chernobyl will donate profits from two new fruit schnapps drinks to Ukrainian refugees.

Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 11:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 12:02 pm

Professor Jim Smith, of the University of Portsmouth, and Ukrainian colleagues set up a social enterprise in 2019 to show that vodka could be safely produced in the region affected by the nuclear reactor accident in 1986.

The Chernobyl Spirit Company started as a scientific experiment but has progressed to the team based in the Ukraine and at the university selling the radioactive-free vodka in the UK.

Now the company is supporting Ukrainian refugees by donating the profits from the first 850-bottle batches of its two new premium fruit schnapps.

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Undated handout photo issued by Chernobyl Spirit Company of bottles of Atomik premium fruit schnapps. Photo: Chernobyl Spirit Company/PA Wire

Sales of its Apple Spirit began last autumn, leading to a donation of £15,000 – all the profits so far – to the Ukrainian refugee appeal.

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At least 75 per cent of all future profits from the social enterprise will go to support the recovery of communities in Ukraine.

Professor Smith said: ‘Having spent my career working on the consequences of Chernobyl I’m horrified to see the much worse impact of the Russian war on Ukraine.

Professor Jim Smith Picture: University of Portsmouth/PA Wire

‘Our social enterprise aims to support communities affected by Chernobyl, many of which are now under Russian occupation.’

His colleague Dr Gennady Laptev is a Chernobyl emergency worker who has remained in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, alongside his wife and 86-year-old father.

Dr Laptev said: ‘We hope our social enterprise will help people affected by the devastating social and economic impacts, first of the Chernobyl accident and now of the war.’

The new fruit schnapps are distilled in Ukraine from pears and plums harvested last autumn from districts affected by the Chernobyl accident and now partly under Russian control.

The company launched its ATOMIK apple vodka in November, with an original plan for 75 per cent of all profits to go towards supporting nature conservation works around Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion has now led to more than four million of Ukraine’s 44 million people to flee the country.