200-Year-Old Alcohol Recovered From Polish Shipwreck — And It's Still Drinkable

KEY LARGO, FL - JULY 12: In this handout photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, divers swim at the shipwreck Spiegel Grove in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary July 12, 2005 in Key Largo, Florida. Since it was fully scuttled June 10, 2002, the decommissioned Navy Landing Ship Dock has rested on its starboard side. However, July 11, 2005 divers discovered the ship had rolled upright, likely due to waves produced by Hurricane Dennis off the southeast coast of Cuba, according to a National Weather Service official. The ship is the largest in the world ever scuttled to become an artificial reef. (Photo by Fraser Nivens/Florida Keys News Bureau via Getty Images)
Source: Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images
You know that old saying: "It's like wine; it gets better with time." Well, hopefully that applies to all forms of booze, because Polish archeologists have found 200-year-old alcohol in a shipwreck, and it's still drinkable. While excavating a sunken ship in Gdansk Bay off the Polish coast in June, they found a sealed bottle of liquid labeled "Selters." Since Selters is a well-known brand of naturally carbonated mineral water from the Tanus Mountains in Germany, and dates back to the Bronze age, that's what the researchers initially assumed was in the bottle. It turns out, the liquid was something a little stronger.

Perhaps the seafarers were trying to sneak the hooch into a festival, or maybe it was just one person who wanted to imbibe without judgment. Either way, we get it — we've all put vodka in Sprite bottles or whiskey in coffee thermoses before, amiright? Preliminary lab tests revealed that the drink was a 14-percent alcohol distillate, either vodka or a type of gin called jenever and likely diluted with water. According to scientists, it is perfectly drinkable.

And by drinkable, "this means, it would not cause poisoning," Tomasz Bednarz, lead archeologist on the excavation, explained to the Polish Ministry of Science and Science Education: "Apparently, however, it does not smell particularly good."

It was also revealed that the chemical composition of the concoction matches the original Selters water, suggesting that the original owner drank some of the mineral water and then filled it up with sauce. It's comforting to know that our modern antics have stood the test of time.

While this discovery dates back to sometime between 1806 and 1830, even older alcohols exist. Some are not just drinkable, but highly coveted.

World's Oldest Wine

The 1,650-year-old wine was discovered in Germany in 1867 and has been on display at the Pfalz Historical Museum for more than a century. Believed to have been produced locally, the wine found in the grave of a Roman noble who was buried in 350 AD.

Monika Christmann, a wine professor, told the UK's Daily Mail, "Micro-biologically it is probably not spoiled, but it would not bring joy to the palate."

Old — and Expensive — Champagne

This bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Rothschild may not be the oldest, but it is the world's most expensive, after a collector purchased it for £105,000 ($175,000 per current exchange rate) in 1985. According to Forbes, the bottle had belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

World's Oldest Whiskey

The title goes to the Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky, which is believed to have been bottled by the the Glenavon Distillery in Ballindalloch, Scotland, sometime between 1851 and 1858. The bottle, while small in size at about 400ml, fetched high a high price when it was sold at Bonhams auction house in London for £14,850 ($25,000).

World's Oldest Alcoholic Drink

The recipe for mead, or honey wine, was found in ancient Indian texts dating back 6,000 years, but the patent for it was held by a Lithuanian company until last year. The world's oldest alcoholic drink, which is made from honey, yeast, water, and herbs, is known as "the ancestor of all fermented drinks."

Images: GeoBeats News/YouTube, Wikipedia Commons (3), Pixabay

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