A Scottish whiskey distillery recently began a two-year experiment to answer maybe the most important question in human history: does zero gravity make alcohol taste more excellent? Thanks to the heroes on the International Space Station, we'll soon have an answer.
The Ardbeg Distillery, which has been producing whiskey on the Scottish island of Islay since 1798, sent some of the basic components of their whiskey up to the International Space Station back in October. The cargo included compounds of unmatured malt and particles of charred oak, the same materials that go into the barrels used in the aging process. The plan is to see how these complex molecules, collectively known as terpenes, interact in zero gravity conditions.
The distillery teamed up with the Houston-based NanoRacks, which is overseeing the ISS research. This is the first known experiment on how molecules like terpenes interact in zero-G conditions, and certainly the first one that might lead to better booze. It's hoped that the experiments will ultimately have applications in everything from foods to perfumes, although Ardbeg is obviously focused on how this new insight into molecular behavior could improve their own maturation processes, as head of distilling and whiskey creation Dr. Bill Lumsden explains:
This experiment will throw new light on the effect of gravity on the maturation process. We are all tremendously excited by this experiment - who knows where it will lead?"
All I know is, if this leads to astronauts opening up a space distillery and/or brewery, this will officially be the greatest experiment in human history. Sorry, Galileo.
Via BBC News. Image via NASA.