Someone Finally Tasted Space Whiskey

By Mike Pomranz |

© Lasse Kristensen / Alamy

Remember that whiskey that was sent into space? No, not the sample that was just sent up by Japanese brand Suntory this past August. That Suntory bottle was like the Pete Conrad of space whiskey. I’m talking about the Neil Armstrong of space whiskey: the vial of Ardbeg sent up way back in 2011. If you recall, that first whiskey to be aged in space returned from the International Space Station almost a year ago. It was quickly subject to plenty of scientific analysis and underwent a tour of the globe, but for the longest time, there was never word of anyone actually drinking it. That is, until now.

Dr. Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling and creator of the product that spent three years orbiting the globe, finally admitted to giving his space whiskey a taste test, comparing it to identical Scotch that had been aged back here on Earth. So what was the verdict? “The space samples were noticeably different,” he said. Hell, for all the trouble of sending booze into space, they better have been!

“When I nosed and tasted the space samples, it became clear that much more of Ardbeg’s smoky, phenolic character shone through—to reveal a different set of smoky flavors which I have not encountered here on earth before,” he continued. “The results of our experiment show that there is potentially even more complexity that we can uncover, to reveal a different side to the whisky.” I’m guessing that’s the exact moment he cued someone to play the theme from The X-Files.

Interested parties can see Lumsden’s tasting notes from the experiment as published by the BBC. Though the aroma of the Earth sample sounds pretty typical, the space sample’s scent seemed a bit bizarre, having “hints of antiseptic smoke, rubber and smoked fish, along with a curious, perfumed note, like violet or cassis, and powerful woody tones, leading to a meaty aroma.” Taste-wise, despite being different, neither seemed particularly unexpected.

Lumsden also said he hoped their findings could “have significant implications for the whisky industry as a whole.” That means a whiskey moon party, right? Let’s just assume Ardbeg is planning a big boozy party on the moon.

Related: Try Space Tea, the Tea that Smells Like Outer Space 
The World's First Space Whiskey Is About to Come Back to Earth 
There Is About to Be a Lot More Umami in Space