Suntory will propel six samples of whisky into space later this month, as part of an experimental project to test the effects of space conditions on the ageing of whisky.
The Japanese distiller will send the whiskies, in glass flasks, up to the International Space Station, where the experiment will take place. The company is hoping to gain insights into the effect of zero gravity on the maturation of whisky, after initial research suggested that the repression of convection that occurs in space could increase whisky’s mellowness.
It will send whiskies of various ages – including 10-, 18- and 21-year-olds, as well as some recently distilled samples – into space for up to two years before bringing them back down to earth, where the company will be able to see what effect the conditions up there have on the development of the whisky.
It is hoped that the project will be able to shed light on why many alcoholic beverages develop a mellow flavour when left to age.
A spokesperson for Suntory said: “With the exception of some items like beer, alcoholic beverages are widely known to develop a mellow flavour when aged for a long time. Although researchers have taken a variety of scientific approaches to elucidating the underlying mechanism, we still do not have a full picture of how this occurs.”
Whisky won’t be the first drink on the International Space Station, though: in May, the first Italian woman to travel into space also became the first astronaut to drink an authentic espresso while in orbit, thanks to some clever technology from coffee company Lavazza and film packaging manufacturer Argotec.
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