Raise your Christmas spirits with ATOMIK bringing support to Ukraine

The Chernobyl based spirits company offers radiation-free schnapps from crops grown in the abandoned zone

The company has donated more than half of all its profits so far to support the recovery of communities in Ukraine and other appeals

A unique social enterprise that produces a range of alcoholic spirits using crops grown in Chernobyl’s abandoned zone is selling its first wartime production of the radiation-free schnapps.

ATOMIK is produced by The Chernobyl Spirit Company, which was set up by Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth and Ukrainian colleagues at the Ukrainian Institute of Hydrometeorology in Kyiv. 

They have worked with the Palinochka Distillery in Ukraine to produce the drink, made with fruits from the Narodychi District, one of the still inhabited areas most affected by the accident.

Professor Smith set up the social enterprise in 2019 to show that vodka could be safely produced in the region affected by the nuclear reactor accident in 1986.

The company started sales of its apple spirit in the autumn of 2021, with two new fruit schnapps drinks, made from pears and plums launched last year. It has donated £30,000 (€34,585) to the Ukrainian refugee appeal and other causes to support the recovery of communities in Ukraine.

The path to market for ATOMIK hasn’t been easy. The first batch for shipment to the UK was seized by Ukrainian prosecutors on leaving the distillery, and was only released after a court hearing found no fault in the Chernobyl Spirit Company’s activities. The company also had to cross army checkpoints on the annual fruit harvest and one of their directors was called up by the army.

Jim Smith, professor, University of Portsmouth, said: “We’re certainly the only drinks company making spirits from Chernobyl, and probably the only one whose directors aren’t taking any salary or dividends.

“Our aim is to support the economic recovery of Chernobyl’s contaminated lands and to help people affected by the accident and now by the horrific war. Having spent my career working on the consequences of Chernobyl, I’m horrified to see the far worse impact of the Russian war on Ukraine.”

Kyrylo Korychensky, director, Chernobyl Spirit Company, said: “With all the horrors going on in Ukraine and elsewhere, it sometimes seems that our efforts with ATOMIK spirits don’t make much difference, but they do. They make people’s lives a little bit better. I hope people will bring a bit of Christmas cheer by supporting our ATOMIK project.”

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