WHEN I told the barman at a plush London boozer on Friday that I wanted a drink with a kick to it, I didn’t mean this.
I was served a tumbler of booze brewed using radioactive apples picked near the blitzed Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine.
The Sun’s Harry Pettit sips a glass of Atomik SpiritCredit: The Sun
Atomik is manufactured using apples grown in Chernobyl’s radioactive exclusion zoneCredit: university of portsmouth
A power surge led to a series of blasts at the Chernobyl power plant on April 26, 1986Credit: Getty – Contributor
Professor Jim Smith, one of the scientists behind Atomik vodkaCredit: The Sun
The potent spirit is called Atomik, and I was one of a lucky (or not so lucky) few to try it ahead of its UK launch this weekend.
Surprisingly, it didn’t glow green like a cartoon nuclear rod. At £45 a bottle, that’s the least I’d expect.
The fruit used in the recipe is “slightly” radioactive, making the resulting spirit safe to drink, according to the outfit behind the bonkers project.
Headed by Brit academic Professor Jim Smith, The Chernobyl Spirit Company has been working on the recipe since 2017.
I sat down with Prof Smith to have a chat about his hair-brained scheme over a glass of Chernobyl’s only consumer export.
He describes the flavour as “strong but robust”. Having had a sip on the rocks myself, I’d say it tastes like a slightly fruity vodka.
“I think it tastes fantastic, but I would!” says Prof Smith, an environmental scientist at the University of Portsmouth.
“It tastes of apples, and is slightly sweet. It’s got a smooth flavour, like very, very strong cider.”
Atomik is the result of a collaboration between British scientists and Ukrainian booze-makers.
It’s made from fruit collected in the Narodychi district, a still-inhabited area badly polluted by the explosion 35 years ago.
While the fruit is radioactive when it’s picked, the deadly radiation is stripped away during the distillation process.
The makers claim that the resulting apple-based alcohol is entirely safe. It is “no more radioactive” than any vodka, according to Prof Smith.
“Our colleagues in Ukraine have measured the product and they can’t find any radioactivity from Chernobyl in it,” he says. “It is safe.”
The path to releasing the hooch has been far from easy.
Back in May, Ukrainian spies seized the first batch of Atomik as it left the Palinochka Distillery destined for Britain.
The Chernobyl Spirit Company was accused of forging duty labels, although it was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing in court.
So who on Earth would buy a bottle of the stuff?
“We’ve done test sales and we’re getting all sorts of people,” Prof Smith says.
“I think there will be particular interest from geeky scientists like me, but lots of people are interested.”
Seventy-five per cent of profits from sales of ATOMIK will go to supporting local communities and nature conservation in and around Chernobyl.
Should the first batch sell well, Prof Smith has plans to make radioactive pear and plum spirits in future.
You can get hold of a bottle of Atomik Spirit at www.atomikvodka.com.
Prof Smith and his team are selling their first batch of spiritsCredit: The Sun
While the fruit used in the recipe is ‘slightly’ radioactive, the resulting spirit is safe to drinkCredit: The Sun
Bar Swift in Soho, London, made the first Atomik martiniCredit: Bar Swift
An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the accidentCredit: Reuters
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