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Issue 130 - Space-Aged whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 130
September 2015


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Space-Aged whisky

Suntory whisky embarks on space mission

On Sunday 16 August 2015, Japanese whisky giant Beam Suntory, in association with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, launched six samples of their award winning whisky into space to mature in the zero gravity environment of the International Space Station's Japanese module (nicknamed ‘Kibo').

The producers hope to improve upon techniques passed down since the first Suntory distillery opened in 1923, by gaining a better scientific understanding of the mechanism behind the ageing process of spirits. Japanese whisky is known for being far less harsh, subtler and more ‘mellow' than its western counterparts, making it extremely popular with younger and less experienced consumers.

The experiment will study the development of ‘mellowness' in alcoholic beverages through the use of a microgravity environment. Experts hypothesise that, “the formation of complex molecular structures consisting of water, ethanol, and other ingredients in alcoholic beverages, contribute to the development of mellowness.” This builds on existing collaborative research by professors at Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo and the Suntory Institute of Life Sciences.

The six samples – consisting of 21 Years Old single malt and a recently distilled whisky – will be allowed to age for periods ranging from one to three years in zero gravity.

Once the samples return to earth, the first of which will be in 2016, expert blenders at Suntory's distilleries will compare how the tast...

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