Ardbeg whisky returns to Earth

28 August, 2014

A vial of Ardberg single malt Islay scotch whisky will be returning to Earth after three years in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

It will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere aboard a Soyuz-U rocket and land in Kazakhstan on Friday September 12.

Brand owner LVMH Moët Hennessy says the flight has been part of a pioneering research experiment. It says the expedition will allow scientists to decipher the impact gravity has on the whisky maturation process.

The especially designed vial has been orbiting the Earth’s atmosphere at 17,227 miles per hour, 15 times a day for 1,045 days. At the same time an identical vial has been housed in Warehouse 3 at the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay, acting as a control sample.

The first study of its kind, the two samples will be reunited in a laboratory in Houston. Researchers believe it could change the future of whisky production. Scientists will compare the two samples, examining the interaction of the Ardbeg-crafted molecules with charred oak to document what differences occur between Earth whisky and space whisky.

Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden, will lead the research, working alongside Ardbeg’s space partners – US-based space research company NanoRacks LLC.

Lumsden said: “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 the end, close to finding answers to something previously unknown which is truly exciting.

“This is one small step for man but one giant leap for whisky, and the team hope to uncover how flavours develop in different gravitational conditions – findings which could revolutionise the whisky-making process.”

After landing, the vial of Ardbeg will be taken to Houston to begin the analysis. The final white paper with the full research findings will be published in 2015.

To celebrate Ardbeg’s journey – where no whisky has ever gone before – the brand is releasing a new expression of its peatiest single malt: the sold out, highly sought-after Supernova. Named after a super bright explosion of a star, Ardbeg Supernova 2014 is bottled at 55% abv and will go on sale on September 12, available from Ardbeg Embassies (most are independent premium whisky stores) and on Moët Hennessy Selection:

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