Daily Management Review

New Flavoured Whiskey Emerges After Ageing on Board the International Space Station


New Flavoured Whiskey Emerges After Ageing on Board the International Space Station
Samples of whiskey aged in space has produced new flavours, claims a report by whisky distiller Ardbeg who conducted an experiment by comparing the tastes and flavours of whiskey aged in space and on earth.
“The Earth-control samples certainly resembled Ardbeg as we know and love it. But up in the Space Station it was a whole new range of samples – some flavours that I’ve never encountered before.” Said Ardbeg’s Dr. Bill Lumsden said in a video the company released recently.
Some samples of whiskey were sent by the distiller to the International Space Station in 2011 and allowed age. The experiment was to know what the effects of ageing whisky in microgravity and the corresponding affects on the flavour.
Whisky fresh out of the distiller and ready for ageing, known as whisky distillate was added to oak wood shavings in a container called MixStix. MixStix had been specially developed by Nanoracks to allow for experiments involving fluids to be safely performed on the space station.
For purposes of comparison, similar samples of whiskey distillate were prepared and but left on Earth to age to serve as control samples. The ageing of both the samples were done for three years before the samples from space were sent back to earth to be studied and compared.
A detailed study of the aged samples from space revealed that some extraction of chemical compounds from the wood into the whisky, which adds re particular flavour to a whiskey, was inhibited while some other compounds were not.

 “While it is clear that micro-gravity is inhibiting the release of wood extractives, not all compounds are affected equally, as would be expected in normal conditions. This has resulted in an unusual ratio between the readily extractable compounds and the less readily extractable ones in the ISS samples,” Lumsden wrote in the company’s white paper.

This is the possible reason that the whiskey samples aged in space were found to have a different flavour which is not available on earth, noted the white paper released by the company

The participants agreed on the description of the particular flavour that were present in the samples brought in from the International Space Station and the whitepaper recorded the notes as follows: “A very focussed flavour profile, with 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.”

Though the flavours, as is evident from the notes, might not be very good and probably odd, according to the company note, the experiment would help whiskey distillers to better guide into learning more about controlling the flavor of the beverage during the maturation process.
While Ardbeg plans to conduct more such controlled experiments on whiskey on the international Space Station to learn more about the chemistry involved, others have also joined in. a month ago, Japanese whisky maker Suntory has also sent whiskey into space to uncover the “mellowing” process.