Vodka and Grain Spirit

ATOMIK is a grain spirit (or "moonshine"), a homemade vodka made by people in villages all over Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Russia since about the twelfth century. Traditionally, people would (and still do) ferment grain or potatoes to make a "mash" (something like a strong beer) then distil this in small stove-top stills to increase the alcohol content. The maximum % alcohol you can get in a stove top still is about 82%, which is where ATOMIK differs from what we now know as vodka. To get higher alcohol content (96%) you need to add a rectification column, invented in France in 1867, to your still. This drives off more of the water and produces a product which (like grain spirit) is then diluted with water down to about 40% alcohol. So the modern definition of vodka in the U.S.A. is "a colourless, odourless, flavourless spirit" made from diluted 96% alcohol.


Grain spirit has more flavour compounds than vodka - by double-distilling and filtering, we are trying to produce a grain spirit which keeps the flavour and character of homemade vodka ("samogon") but isn't quite as rough around the edges. We dilute our distillate with a mineral water from the deep aquifer  below the town of Chernobyl about 10 km south of the nuclear power station. It is pure and of high quality, having characteristics of a typical limestone aquifer such as that found in the South of England or the Champagne region of France. We're currently trying to work out exactly how many thousands of years old this water is but it definitely wasn't anywhere near the surface in 1986.