They sent whisky into space. Here's what it tasted like
Monday, September 7, 2015, 1:55 PM - Japanese whisky maker Suntory made some headlines with the unusual stunt of blasting six samples of spirits up to the International Space Station in August.
However, in terms of space booze, Suntory was beaten to the punch long ago by Scottish distillery Ardbeg, which sent up a vial of unmatured malt scotch to see what effect zero gravity would have on it as it matured. In the meantime, a similar vial was kept on Earth and aged normally as a control.
That was back in October 2011, with the sample returning to Earth in late 2014 to be tested by the distillery. That was the last we heard of it until this week, when Ardbeg announced the results of its study.
And the verdict: three years' exposure to zero-gravity had a definite, measurable effect on the scotch's flavour.
"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 flavours which I have not encountered here on earth before," Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg's director of distilling, told Sky News.
They really take their whisky seriously. The actual paper published by Ardbeg goes into astonishing detail.
On the aroma, for example: "Intense and rounded, with notes of antiseptic smoke, rubber, smoked fish and a curious, perfumed note , like cassis or violet. Powerful woody notes, hints of graphite and some vanilla. This then leads into very earthy/soil notes, a savoury, beefy aroma, and then hints of rum & raisin flavoured ice cream."
As for the taste: "Smoked fruits (prunes, raisins, sugared plums and cherries), earthy peat smoke, peppermint, aniseed, cinnamon and smoked bacon or hickory-smoked ham. The aftertaste is pungent, intense and long, with hints of wood, antiseptic lozenges and rubbery smoke."
Ardbeg says the findings are significant for the industry as a whole. We can't wait for the marketing campaign.