200-year-old gin recovered from shipwreck

A 200-year-old bottle of gin has been recovered from the wreckage of a sailing ship in Poland.

Tomasz Bednarz, an underwater archaeologist the National Maritime Museum, holds the 200-year-old Selters bottle with other shipwreck finds in front of him. Credit: National Maritime Museum, Gdańsk

Tomasz Bednarz, an underwater archaeologist the National Maritime Museum. Credit: National Maritime Museum, Gdańsk

The remains of the ship, which was said to have sunk 200 years ago in the Gulf of Gdańsk, were discovered last year by the staff of the Maritime Office in Gdynia, as reported by a Polish news site.

Archaeologists from the National Maritime Museum carried out an exploration of the ship in July with the help of divers who discovered a stoneware bottle containing a liquid bottled at 14% abv, described by experts as a type of gin.

The bottle was perfectly preserved and corked, and embossed with the text “Selters” – a soda water produced in the Taunus mountain range in Germany.

Tomasz Bednarz, archaeologist with the National Maritime Museum, who led the work on the wreck, said: “They have found that the bottle contains 14% percent alcohol distillate, possibly diluted with water, whose chemical composition corresponds to that of Selters soda.”

Laboratory staff said the the alcohol was likely to be a type of “genever gin” – a traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium – most likely to have been diluted with Selters water.

Even more extraordinary, Bednarz said the alcohol was suitable for drinking, according to scientists, but added: “It does not smell particularly good”.

Selters’ springs eventually ran dry around the start of the 19th century, making it much harder to obtain, however in 1896 a second source was discovered at a castle nearby to the village.

Today Selters is sold as a luxury mineral water.

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