Space-Aged Whisky: Brewery Sends Experimental Batch to ISS
Japanese brewery Suntory is sending a batch of its whisky to the International Space Station with the next cargo rocket, in an experiment to see how low-Earth orbit affects its qualities.
Alternate headline: "First Suntory whisky was Lost in Translation - now it'll be Lost in Space!"
In mid-August, a package of the Japanese brewery's award-winning whisky will be packed into a cargo rocket bound for the ISS. The brewery plans to have half the batch sent back after one year, with the remainder staying behind for at least two years, or more.
Why, you might ask? Well, in theory, a constant temperature and as little movement as possible are best when it comes to reducing harsh flavors in distilled beverages. The International Space Station, in a sense, meets those two criteria. Though the station may be orbiting Earth at a speed several times that of sound, the environment on board is pretty stable.
Getting up there in the first place, not to mention re-entry, may cause some problems - but it's nothing a decent picnic cooler and plenty of padding can't fix.
We are in the golden age of weird food science.
Among the products Suntory is sending is Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, which was recently given the title of "Best Whisky in the World" in Whisky Bible 2015. The space-aged whisky, it should be noted, will not be commercially available. Suntory will be using the samples to perform experiments, including having their expert tasters compare it to Earth-aged whisky. In short, they want find a "scientific explanation for the mechanism that makes alcohol mellow."
Suntory is also featured in the critically-acclaimed film, Lost in Translation, wherein Bill Murray's character finds himself in Japan to film an ad for the product.
Alcohol is not a common item to have in space. Experiments in the 1970s were done to see what kind of "luxury" meals could be provided for the astronauts working on Skylab, and sherry was very nearly included in the menu. Experiments, however, proved this would not necessarily work out well. Think "motion sickness, plus alcohol, times a thousand."
Source: Wall Street Journal
Ardbeg already did this with their 'Supernova'. Although they only sent a couple of vials I think, and was mostly just a marketing gimmick. Hopefully Suntory is more interested in the science.
While it would be cool to see how whiskey aged in space might taste, part of me doesn't think it will make much difference, between takeoff and re-entry I certainly don't think a year is going to make too much of a difference. Maybe if it was kept up there for a decade or so you'd see a real, appreciable difference between it and ones aged for the same amount of time on Earth.
Really, Suntory is a company that has no qualms about making specialty edition $10,000 bottles, and I imagine that is where they are going with this. So less FOR SCIENCE and more "We can sell this for incredible prices to rich bozos." Not that I'm cynical or anything.
I know what i would tell them if it were me up there. Your whiskey seems to have completely evaporated out of the bottle!! please send more *burps*
We're already in space. Low earth orbit is just falling in a vacuum while being bombarded by radiation.
As long as they also send some samples for the astronauts to enjoy then it's an equitable exchange to have large containers of alcohol within arm's reach but undrinkable...