Divers have found a handful of bottles of beer that has been preserved in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea since the 19th century, Finnish media reported.
The valuable collection of drinks is not the first to be recovered from the wreck off Finland's Aland Islands. Earlier this year, 70 bottles of what may be the world's oldest drinkable champagne were salvaged.
"At the present moment, we believe these bottles are the oldest ones in the world. It looks like we saved not only the oldest champagne in the world, but also the oldest beer," said Rainer Juslin, spokesman for the local government of Aland.
The constant temperatures and low light levels in the ship, which is resting at a depth of around 50 meters, created the ideal storage conditions for the beer. Underwater pressure has not allowed sea water to get into the bottles.
Experts have not yet estimated the value of the find.
The date of shipwreck still remains a mystery. Scientists suggest that it could be a Nordic sailing ship which sank in the early 19th century while sailing to the Gulf of Finland from Gdansk in Poland or Copenhagen in Denmark. Some believe the ship was destined for the Russian imperial court.
In mid-July, a group of Swedish and Finnish divers found 70 bottles of champagne in the shipwreck. Initially, they took one bottle to the surface in an attempt to establish the ship's age, and found out that the bottle design was typical for the 1780s.
The champagne turned out to be drinkable. If it is proven that the champagne was indeed produced before 1825, it would be considered the world's oldest champagne, worth at least half a million Swedish crowns [$68,000] per bottle.
French experts failed to establish the precise age of the champagne bottles, saying only that they were not produced by any contemporary enterprise. Swedish wine experts earlier said that judging by the special cork design it could be of the world-famous Veuve Clicquot brand.
The discovery has already sparked a row between Swedish diver Christian Ekstrom, who lifted and opened the first bottle, and members of the Aland Maritime Historical Society, who accused him of stealing data about the ship's location from them. Ekstrom denies the claims.
The fate of the bottles is yet to be determined. According to local laws, objects older than a century are considered to be relics and belong to the Aland authorities.
So far, there has been no indication that any other drinks might still be on the ship.
MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti)