Whisky and space: when booze meets science

With Mars One, the conquest of space is becoming real. Maybe one day we’ll all live on Mars and we’ll take our spaceships to navigate through space.

Or maybe not. Anyhow, even if we don’t live on Mars, we’ll still be able to drink whisky in space, thanks to Ballantines.

The Scotch brand is financing research and development of Space Glass, a zero gravity glass. That’s right, a glass that would prevent the liquid from escaping, using the “capillary action” effect, first observed by no other than Leonardo da Vinci. The current prototype designed in partnership with The Open Space Agency (OSA) includes a spiral ring into the bottom of the glass that catches the spirit, which then travels through a helical channel carved into the glass’s side.

zero gravity

Pretty smart, right? That way, rich people traveling through space will be able to do it with class, a zero gravity glass of Ballantines in one hand and their smartphone in the other, taking space selfies.

But Ballantines isn’t the only whisky brand using “space appeal” to get attention.

In 2011, Ardbeg launched a vial of unmatured whisky to the International Space Station to study the effect of zero gravity on flavour. The results of this (vital) experiment just came back with the space sample: the flavour profile of this sample is “dramatically different” and much more complex than the flavour of the sample that stayed on Earth.


Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, said: “When I nosed and tasted the space samples, it became clear that much more of Ardbeg’s smoky, phenolic character shone through – to reveal a different set of smoky flavours which I have not encountered here on earth before.”

The goal of the experiment was to understand how micro-gravity affects the behaviour of terpenes, which determine the flavour of many foods, wines and spirits. And the result makes possible the development of new flavour profiles.

So in the end, we’re not just going to drink in space, we’re also going to age our whisky in space. Next step: a distillery on the Moon perhaps? Hell, we’ll drink to that!

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