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article imageWhisky tastes better in space

By Tim Sandle     Sep 12, 2015 in Lifestyle
Edinburgh - Scottish whisky distillers Ardbeg has revealed the results of a unique 'space whisky' experiment. The distillery that sent unmatured malt whisky into space to study the effect of near-zero gravity on flavor. The results are 'interesting.'
Ardbeg is a whisky distillery located on the Scottish island Islay. Characteristic of most whiskies produced on the island it produces single malts renowed for their peaty taste and smokiness on the nose. The Island of Islay lies in the stormy waters of the Atlantic Ocean just off the West coast of Scotland (Digital Jounral has reviewed two whiskies form the island, Prince Charles's favorite Laphroaig and the mysterious Finlaggan.)
The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798; its distinctive ten year-old has been produced on a large scale since the revival of Scottish single malt whiskies during the 1990s. Now it has gone interstellar.
In 2011, Ardbeg produced two vials of unmatured barley single malt whisky. It retained one in its distillery and sent one on board the International Space Station (ISS), where it remained for two and a half years. The scientific basis of the study was to see how micro-gravity would affect the chemical behavior of terpenes. Terpenes are organic chemicals and function as the building blocks of flavor for many foods and wines as well as whisky spirits.
On completion of the trial, the results of the analysis are complete and the two samples are said to be "noticeably different" in terms of aroma and taste. Speaking with the BBC, Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg's director of distilling and whisky creation, noted: "The space samples were noticeably different. 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."
As to the tasting notes - key to any whisky aficionado's comparison of different whiskies - notes released by Ardbeg indicate:
Earth sample: "The sample had a woody aroma, reminiscent of an aged Ardbeg style, with hints of cedar, sweet smoke and aged balsamic vinegar, as well as raisins, treacle toffee, vanilla and burnt oranges.
"On the palate, its woody, balsamic flavours shone through, along with a distant fruitiness, some charcoal and antiseptic notes, leading to a long, lingering aftertaste, with flavours of gentle smoke, tar and creamy fudge."
Space sample: "Its intense aroma had hints of antiseptic smoke, rubber and smoked fish, along with a curious, perfumed note, like violet or cassis, and powerful woody tones, leading to a meaty aroma."
The results of the study will be used by the company to experiment with different maturation processes. A true 'space whisky' could be available to taste in a decade or so.
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