For whisky that is truly out of this world, look no further than Japan’s Suntory label, which has decided to send its liquor off the planet and onto the International Space Station. In a display of true devotion to their craft, the beverage company has packed and shipped their product to outer space in their quest to better understand the “mechanism that makes alcohol mellow.” Unfortunately, even though the whisky is being sent high above Earth’s surface to age and experience the effects of micro-gravity, astronauts will not be able to sample the precious cargo. So much for an out of this world party.
While some whisky experts are skeptical that sending Suntory whisky to the ISS will actually make it mellower, it is almost certain that being in space will have some sort of an effect on the alcohol. As Steve Ury, an L.A-based whiskey expert, told the L.A. Times, “Each batch gains most of its color and flavor from the aging process,” and of course, a key component of that process is contingent on location.
Surprisingly enough, this is by no means the first time that whisky has been seen floating around miles above the Earth’s surface. In 2011, a Scottish distillery Ardbeg embarked upon a similar journey with its whisky, and for three years allowed samples of its beverage to orbit the Earth 15 times a day. While the effects of this aging process so far from home have yet to be revealed, Ardbeg promises a research paper detailing the results “at a later date.”
And whisky isn’t the only drink to be tested away from the planet. Coffee cups that are zero-gravity friendly are already present on the ISS, and there is a martini glass that will allow astronauts to get their (safe) buzz on while floating above us. After all, you can’t just have your liquids floating away from you as you’re trying to quench your thirst.
But when it comes to space’s effects on whisky, Ury, for one, remains unimpressed. Said the expert, “To me, space barrel aging is sort of an absurdity. I don’t know what the effect will be at zero gravity on aging, but I’m not sure it matters. There’s no practical way to keep aging your barrels in space.”
So prepare yourselves, whisky aficionados. Soon, there may be a new kind of whisky in town, and it’ll come from very far, far away indeed.
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