Last October, a spaceship carried compounds of unmatured malt and particles of charred oak to the International Space Station (ISS), to check how these elements would interact at close-to-zero gravity. Space research company NanoRacks LLC came up with the idea, while Ardbeg distillery in Islay, Scotland, provided the ingredients.
The experiment was announced this week in the framework of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The particles sent are terpenes, which are used as natural flavour additives and fragrances. Scientists hope the study will help them understand new aspects of the maturation process.
‘By doing this microgravity experiment on the interaction of terpenes and other molecules with the wood samples provided by Ardbeg, we will learn much about flavours, even extending to applications like food and perfume,’ said Michael Johnson, chief technical officer of NanoRacks LLC. ‘At the same time it should help Ardbeg find new chemical building blocks in their own flavour spectrum.’
The results will be available in 2014. As Dr Bill Lumsden, head of distilling at Ardbeg puts it: ‘We are all tremendously excited by this experiment – who knows where it will lead?’
Photo via The Drinks Business