The World's First Space Whiskey Is About to Come Back to Earth

By Mike Pomranz |

Credit: Image Zoo/Alamy

How would whisky taste after being aged in space? It’s a question that has likely been pondered by everyone from Buzz Aldrin to George Jetson. Earthlings are about to find out the answer as a three-year experiment returns from orbit on September 12.

About three years ago, NanoRacks, a Texas­–based space research company, teamed up with Scotland’s Ardbeg distillery for what is officially being called an “experiment,” but sounds more like an idea concocted after a night of heavy drinking. The plan: Send whisky, along with particles of charred oak, into space, and then compare that whisky with a control bottle left on Earth to see how near zero-gravity affects the maturation process.

So in October 2011, a vial of unmatured malt from Ardbeg was sent to the International Space Station via a Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan; the vial is set to return September 12. The literally space-aged spirit will be shipped off to Texas where it will be reunited with its Earth-bound brethren. Finally, they will be, as the BBC reports, “compared.” Pretty sure that is scientist slang for “shots, shots, shots, shots, shots.”

Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, Bill Lumsden, was quoted as saying, “The team hopes to uncover how flavors develop in different gravitational conditions—findings which could revolutionize the whisky-making process.” Because who needs a distillery in Kentucky when you could have one on the moon?

Hopefully next on the docket, shoot some Scotch through the Large Hadron Collider to see if we can finally put that particle accelerator to good use.

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