In January 2012, Ardbeg carried out a unique experiment, sending samples of its whisky into space to observe the effect of microgravity on the whisky maturation process. After 971 days in the weightless conditions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the samples returned to earth in September 2014 for analysis. The results have proved richly instructive.
Dr. Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation, directed the experiment and reviewed the results, which are based on comparative analyses between the samples sent to space and control samples that remained on earth. The primary aim of the experiment was to identify techniques that could lead to the creation of new Ardbeg whisky flavors.
Blind tastings were done in the Ardbeg sensory laboratory to assess the organoleptic differences, revealing unexpected results: all the tasters were able to determine the difference and identify which sample came from the ISS and which was the “earth whisky” control sample, describing very different aromas and flavors. The sample that had been in space was described as intense and rounded, with notes of rubber, smoked fish and a curious perfumed note like cassis or violet.
Further analyses will be carried out to possibly create new expressions of Ardbeg whisky. Ardbeg is also considering further trials with the scientific research company NanoRacks on a future space mission.