Remember when Ardbeg Distillery sent a vial of unmatured malt whisky into space? Well the space Scotch has returned! And it has allegedly been changed by its time in microgravity.
The BBC reports that taste tests have detected "major differences" between Earth-bound whisky and the vial that flew in the International Space Station for some three years, where it matured along with the same charred oak that was aging with whisky on Earth.
According to Ardbeg's analysis, the microgravity experiment revealed a different side of their whisky -- a unique flavor profile. It sounds kind of gross, to be honest -- though I'm more of a whiskey girl than a whisky girl, admittedly.
"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 Ardbeg tasting notes state. "The taste was very focused, with smoked fruits such as prunes, raisins, sugared plums and cherries, earthy peat smoke, peppermint, aniseed, cinnamon and smoked bacon or hickory-smoked ham. The aftertaste is intense and long, with hints of wood, antiseptic lozenges and rubbery smoke."
Antiseptic lozenges and rubbery smoke, you say?
The Earth sample sounds slightly more appetizing, according to its tasting notes: "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."
According to Ars Technica, chemical analysis of the samples showed no major differences in the non-alcoholic compounds that contributed to flavor. But analysis did suggest that the sample matured in microgravity had been influenced less by the oak it was aged with than the Earth sample.
“In the future, the altered range of wood extractions could lead scientists to be able to detail the ratios of compounds expected in whiskies of a certain age," Ardbeg director of distilling Bill Lumsden told the Guardian.
In other words, Ardbeg distillers -- as well as those from other companies, some of which have already followed suit and launched their own products into space -- are hoping that messing with gravity can lead to some exciting new products.
Let's just hope they don't all taste like antiseptic and burnt rubber.