A Japanese distillery is sending some of its world-renowned whisky into outer space. Tokyo-based Suntory, a brewing and distillery company, announced today that it will send six samples of its whiskies and other alcohols to the International Space Station (ISS) next month, in order to observe the effects of zero-gravity on the aging process.
Suntory is Japan's oldest whisky distillery, and is responsible for producing the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, which last year was named the best whisky in the world (much to the dismay of Scotland). A Suntory spokesperson tells The Wall Street Journal that the samples being sent to space include a 21-year-old single malt and a drink that has just been distilled. They will be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on August 16th, destined for the Japanese Experiment Module aboard the ISS.
The search for mellowness
The goal, according to Suntory, is to learn how a zero-gravity, temperature-stable environment affects the "mellowness" of the drinks as they age. The taste of most alcoholic drinks is known to mellow with time, though the mechanisms by which that happens are still unknown. Research conducted in collaboration with Japanese scientists has shown that environments that suppress liquid convection may play a role in the mellowing process, Suntory said in its press release.
The first samples will return to Earth after one year, while the other group of samples will remain aboard the ISS for at least two years. Unfortunately, there are no plans to sell the drinks once they come back to Earth.