britfatcat, 威士忌(Whisky)via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You may pride yourself on your impressive whisky collection, but there’s one whisky that trumps even your finest Glenlivet: space whisky.

Although this whisky wasn’t produced in a floating space factory, it has spent three years orbiting the Earth’s atmosphere inside the International Space Station.

Why, you ask? Good question. Apparently, Texas-based space research company NanoRacks had a burning desire to see how gravity affects the maturation of whisky, so they shot up a vial of unmatured Ardbeg malt complete with particles of charred oak back in 2011. Scientists hope to reveal how they interact in different strengths of gravity.

The malt came from the Ardbeg Distillery, which is located on a small, remote Scottish island called Islay. Of course, you can’t have science without a control, so the distillery kept an identical vial on Earth ready for comparison with the space whisky that's due to arrive in Kazakhstan on September 12. The two samples will be analyzed at a laboratory in Houston, Texas.

Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, shared his excitement with the BBC: “This is one small step for man but one giant leap for whisky. The team hopes to uncover how flavors develop in different gravitational conditions—findings which could revolutionize the whisky-making process.

“We hope to shine new light on the effect of gravity on the maturation process but who knows where it will lead us? It could be to infinity and beyond.”

Methinks Lumsden may have been enjoying the sampling process a little too much that day, but we look forward to the results nonetheless. 

[Via BBC News]

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