The first vodka produced in Chernobyl was seized by the secret services

A difficult - and very mysterious - start for Atomik, apple vodka produced in Chernobyl and the first edible product coming from the area of the nuclear accident.

We all know about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which erupted on a night in April 1986 and was responsible for changing forever the face and the history of the small town in the then Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. However, not everyone knows that in 2019 a group of scientists and distillers decided to create a new alcoholic beverage from the "ashes" of a dramatic and epoch-making event. And that now, more than 35 years after the explosion, is at the center of a new mystery, at least in appearance.

We refer to what has been baptized, with a strong black humor, Atomik. It is a vodka distilled with ingredients grown in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and naturally free of radioactive alcohol to make it completely drinkable without any risk to humans. A spirit that has made headlines not only for the praiseworthy initiative to revive an area practically devastated by nuclear power, but also because the first batch produced was seized by local authorities.

All 1,500 freshly produced bottles were seized while en route to the United Kingdom by agents of the Ukrainian secret services for reasons yet to be confirmed. The news was directly communicated by the producer of Atomik, The Chernobyl Spirit Company, and the first testimonies talk about the presence of counterfeit stamps related to excise duties. It is a pity that the stamps were not counterfeited because they are not there, being the lot destined to the British market. That's why the reason for the seizure seems to be still unclear, as confirmed to BBC microphones by Professor Jim Smith, a leading UK environmental scientist who has been studying the Chernobyl accident since 1990 - and among the builders of the Chernobyl Spirit Company itself:

It seems they are accusing us of using counterfeit Ukrainian stamps, but this makes no sense since the bottles are destined for the UK market, and are clearly labeled with valid UK excise tax stamps.

Atomik vodka, created with the help of the Palinochka distillery in Ukraine, is made from apples grown in the Narodichi district, one of the still-populated areas most affected by the infamous Chernobyl nuclear accident - and which also inspired the producers of Stranger Things 4.This is the first edible product ever to come from the exclusion zone, and is the result of an initiative with a dual purpose: to reassure people about the health of the area and to support local communities, hit hard by radiation and its inevitable economic and social consequences, with proceeds from sales.

The grain used to make the vodka initially had high levels of strontium-90, but the current distillation process reduces impurities and radioactive contamination. The drink is then produced using mineral water from the aquifer in the city of Chernobyl, just 10 kilometers south of the power plant, and strictly controlled to be free of contamination. All this was unfortunately not enough, and the Atomik website was forced to announce the suspension of sales.

Andrea Guerriero