ISS experiment confirms whiskey aged in space tastes different


A sample of Scottish Whiskey that spent three years aboard the International Space Station has returned to Earth to be imbibed by a lucky taster. According to the Ardbeg distillery, the space whiskey tastes noticeable different than an identical sample of whiskey allowed to mature here on Earth in gravity’s loving embrace. You’ll have to take their word for it, though. Only a single vial of the booze was sent into space, likely making it the most rare spirit in the world.

This experiment was undertaken with the help of the aerospace company NanoRacks in 2011. The goal was to find out what (if any) effects microgravity had on the development and makeup of flavor compounds in the final product. To test this, a sample of unmatured whiskey with charred oak shavings was sent up to the ISS. A control vial was kept here on Earth.

Upon its return from the ISS recently, chemical analysis of the whiskey was conducted. The profiles of the two samples were chemically distinct, but not dramatically. The taste test did demonstrate a notable difference, though. Tasters were able to correctly pick out the space whiskey when matched up with normal terrestrial booze, indicating that it does mature differently in orbit.


The space whiskey is described as having a more intense, antiseptic smoke taste with hints of rubber and smoked fish. That actually doesn’t sound awesome to me. The control was described as having the taste of cedar, sweet smoke, and aged balsamic vinegar. See? That just sounds nicer. So, regardless of whether or not space makes whiskey better, it does make it different.

Ardbeg distillery hopes to continue experimenting with microgravity to find out how flavor changes in space. It’s not the only distillery interested, though. Earlier this year, Japanese distiller Suntory sent several samples of whiskey to the ISS. We’ll find out in a few years if their results match.

Source: Science –

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