There’s a story has been doing the rounds over the last day or two. It goes a little like this: late last year, the folks at Islay’s Ardbeg distillery – Dr Bill Lumsden, above, seems the man most responsible – packed some of their whisky-goodness into a rocket and fired it at 25,000 miles per hour into space. No, really.
Apparently, it’s all part of an experiment led by a US research outfit named Nanoracks (makers of really small shelving units maybe?). And the idea is to let certain flavour-active compounds, specifically terpenes, age in oak in zero gravity on the International Space Station. Meanwhile an identical batch will be doing the same down here on terra firma for comparison. Hopefully the results once we get the orbital version back will unlock all sorts of secrets about the behaviour, interaction and development of flavours, in turn yielding fascinating new ground for perfumers, gastronomes and distillers alike. (And no doubt Ardbeg aren’t in on this purely for altruistic reasons – Interstellar Isla, anyone?)
However, we have three small issues with this whole madcap undertaking:
1. The experiment (the term ‘mission’ seems a bit much when talking about booze) doesn’t return to Earth until 2014. That’s three more years from now. Cue excitement fizzle.
2. All this is assuming the aliens don’t get to our whisky first.
3. Then there’s the small issue of nomenclature: to be a Scotch, this stuff would have to be aged for at least three years in Scotland. Perhaps it’s just a rose by any other intergalactic name and all that. Or is this the beginning of a whole slew of silly, new orbital alcohol legislature? And then there’s the fact that time moves at a different rate that far from Earth, so will it really even be three years?
The mind boggles. Not that that will stop us lusting after a dram or two of Space Aged (and we mean that literally) Scotch. Even if we can’t technically call it that. The gods alone know what that will be worth.