200-Year-Old Alcohol Found in Shipwreck Is Still Drinkable

Researchers found the liquid, originally thought to be mineral water, was actually over-aged booze

Selters bottle
The bottle recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Poland National Maritime Museum in Gadansk

Earlier this summer, researchers discovered a 200-year-old bottle of liquid while excavating a shipwreck off the coast of Poland. Based on the mark on the neck of the bottle, the archaeologists assumed that the stoneware bottle was full of mineral water from Seltsers, Germany. But preliminary test results have shown that the bottle actually contains alcohol—probably a form of vodka or the gin-like jenever. 

Still more surprising is the find that the alcohol is drinkable—although maybe not enjoyable—as Livescience reports

Apparently, the alcohol is drinkable, the archaeologists involved told the news site of Poland's Ministry of Science and Science Education. "This means it would not cause poisoning. Apparently, however, it does not smell particularly good," Bednarz said, according to the Ministry.

Though finding intact bottles with liquid still in them is unusual, this isn’t the first time that a bottle of alcohol has been recovered from an archaeological dig. io9 lists several different bottle of drinks that have been brought up from their resting places, including a few that—like this most recent find—date to the 1800s.

Go back further than a few centuries, though, and the examples of preserved liquids get fewer and further between, though archaeologists in 1867 were able to recover a glass bottle of wine from the 4th century A.D. Understandably, it has not been opened

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get the chance to taste the contents of one of these ancient bottles, but you might be able to come close. Making replicas of ancient drinks is pretty common in today’s home-brewed world. Researchers and enthusiasts have recreated beer from ancient Egypt, the whisky carried to Antarctica by Shackleton, Mayan ale and many other drinks

(H/T Archaeology Magazine)

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