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Contents of 200-year-old bottle determined to be alcohol, drinkable

A bottle of 200-year-old alcohol has been deemed "drinkable".
A bottle of 200-year-old alcohol has been deemed "drinkable".
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Aged-alcohol enthusiasts, do we have an interesting find for you. The Smithsonian reported on Monday, Aug. 18, that the 200-year-old stoneware bottle researchers found in June contains some sort of diluted alcohol. The most shocking part of the find- it is still drinkable.

The container was found while researchers were excavating shipwreck F53.31 in Gdańsk Bay, located off the coast of Poland. The one-liter bottle was found sealed and well-preserved among other treasures such as fragments of ceramics and pieces of dinnerware stones.

The bottle had a symbol on it that has been seen before, “Selters”. This is the name of a supplier of elegant soda from the Taunus Mountains area in Germany. For their products, Selters used one of the oldest water sources in Europe, which was discovered around 1,000 years ago. This bottle in particular dates back to around 1806-1830, and was manufactured in Ransbach. The water source went dry at the beginning of the 19th century, but after being drilled in 1896, locals were able to tap into the water supply again. Today, water from this source is considered a luxury product.

To determine what was in the bottle, soda water or something else, researchers sent it to J.S. Hamilton chemical laboratory in Gdynia to be tested. The preliminary results showed that there is 14 percent alcohol distillate in the container that researchers believe to be vodka or gin. Another chemical also found in the bottle is said to be the same composition of Selter soda water.

Although the full results from the tests won’t be complete until early September, preliminary tests show that the liquid inside the bottle is still drinkable. "This means it would not cause poisoning. Apparently, however, it does not smell particularly good," said Tomasz Bednarz, from the group that did the testing on the liquid.

But don’t pull out your mixers and blenders yet. Unfortunately, the chances of you tasting from this ancient alcohol is very unlikely. LiveScience shared photos from the discovery which can be seen here.

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