Saturday, August 15, 2015

Space Aged Whisky - Ardbeg In Space

Ardbeg Space Aged Whisky
Anyone who knows anything about whisky knows Ardbeg and the distillery that holds the same name. Love its deep peaty waters or shudder at the thought of smokey whisky, it is irrelevant to the fact we all all know the distillery. This can be emphasised through the iconic Ardbeg 10yo, or the fact Ardbeg is synonymous with peat, that Dr Bill Lumsden progresses the distillery through experimentation or the point of the quirky PR promotions and PR campaigns that we look forward to rolling around each year.

So to be announcing Ardbeg as the first distillery to officially send whisky into space for experimentation would be like opening the gate after the horse has bolted. You know it has happened already. So let us look at where this experiment is at now. After seeing a vial of Ardbeg placed on the ISS (International Space Station) in October 30th 2011 and, and after 3 years of orbiting the earth at 17,227 miles per hour, 15 times a day for 1,045 days, the whisky has returned to terra firma. That is one hell of a round trip that now needs to be poked and prodded like an Area 51 Alien crash site.

Not without a control subject at the same time an identical vial was retained at Warehouse 3 at the Ardbeg Distillery. On return earth the 2 samples have been collected in a Houston, Texas laboratory to examine the difference in maturation.

10ml of this precious liquid has been making a globe trotting exhibition from country to country and now, June to July, we see this 10ml appear in Aus for the first time.

David White presenting and discussing the space whisky experiment
On show in Sydney’s Dan Murphy’s Double Bay store, this sample of the whisky has been displayed in what is being called a “zero-gravity display case”. Much anticipation has been queried about this display and what “zero-gravity” really meant. How does it float? Was it a large magnetic levitation tool? Well truth be told it neither floats nor is it zero gravity. In fact it is a cleaver illusion where by the vial is sandwiched between layers of clear plastic and polished to a near perfect transparency. Either way the capsule looks pretty cool.

As part of the launch David White, International Business Director at The Glenmorangie Company, presented the display while leading us through a thorough discussion on Ardbeg, Dr Bill Lumsden’s involvement, and what this experiment hoped to achieve.

The focus of the research is to look at the impact of zero-gravity as on the whisky maturation process. We cannot say right now how this experiment was conducted or even if the whisky was contained in glass, stainless steel, or wood, as details on the research have not been made public. The final white paper will be available in September 2015 according to current sources.

The crowd enjoying cocktails and Ardbeg 10yo
Following is an extract of Dr Bills Lumsden, Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation and lead researcher, words on the subject.
“Ardbeg is known for taking risks in its development of some of the most coveted whiskies in the world, so it is fitting that it is the first distillery ever in space. We are now close to finding answers to something previously unknown which is truly exciting.” 
“We hope to shine new light on the effect of gravity on the maturation process and are
very excited to bring the Ardbeg Space Installation to Australia, as one of only ten
locations around the world”.
In conclusion of the experiment a small measure of this whisky will be actioned off to the highest bidder. As sort after as this whisky sample will be, we can very much doubt it will be tasted. If it is consumed then we can be sure it will be an experience out of this world (cough cough bad joke).

To conclude let us be clear it is certainly not the first spirit sent into space and, probably not the first whisky (smuggling contraband into space has been happening since the Apollo missions and earlier), but it is the first with a specific scientific purpose. Maturing whisky in space is an interesting concept, be it a very expensive concept.

Thanks to Ardbeg, Moet Hennessy Australia, and EVH PR for the invitation.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest this event. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.