Suntory Holdings will send multiple samples of its own whiskey, both freshly distilled and decades-old variants, off to the International Space Station, where they will be stored for the next six months. The company will then bring it back to Earth and observe if half a year worth of aging at zero gravity will change its taste in any way.
The Japanese company may be on to something here, as studies show that theoretically whisky could become tastier if it incorporates certain molecular structures which form in environments where the liquid becomes very dense – such as at zero gravity. In any case, they will find out if this is true after studying the space aged whisky when it returns to Earth, as it will be tasted and compared to normally-ageing whisky.
This could help finally understand why the alcohol becomes mellower as it ages, but unfortunately for those hoping to get drunk on outer-space drinks, the company has announced that the specimens will only be used for testing purposes and will not be available commercially.
The samples will be sent to the International Space Station on August 16 via the Kounotori transfer vehicle should no delays appear, and will be stored on the ISS’s Japanese Experiment Module, or Kibo as it is also known. The whole experiment will be helped by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Nippon equivalent of NASA.
Suntory is one of the oldest Japanese brewing and distilling groups, founded in 1899. The company first started off with wined, the expanded in 1923 to whisky after it built Japan’s first whisky distillery in Shimamoto.
The company’s whisky is renowned internationally for its quality, winning numerous awards from specialists and connoisseurs. Just last November, one of the highest rated rankings of quality whisky brands around the world, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, dubbed the company’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 as the world’s finest whisky.
This, however, would not be the first time that alcohol was sent into space. Scottish distiller Ardbeg sent 20 vials of its whisky into space in 2011, which returned to Earth in September last year. The samples are now being studied to observe any possible changes in their outer-space maturation, but no results have been announced as of yet.
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