After 971 days and 15 orbits around the earth, the Ardbeg sample sent into space arrived back to earth in November 2014. Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks, Dr. Bill Lumsden has recently released his report on how space travel, more specifically, micro-gravity, has affected the whisky.
The report can be found here, and is chock full of whisky-geek talk about congeners, wood extractives and aldehydes. But we here at whsky.buzz we will give you the quick version.
Firstly, no major differences were found when examining the major volatile congeners.
However, there was a marked difference in the amount of wood extractives, (flavour compounds specifically supplied by the oak during maturation) found in greater amounts on the earth sample. But when diving deeper into these flavour compounds, it was discovered that the impact was not equal for all types of wood extractives - with some of them actually in greater amounts on the International Space Station sample than the earth sample.
When subjected to a human taste-test, it seems as though all bets were off. The 2 samples were reported to taste quite differently. The earth-sample having the same Ardbeg taste we know and recognize. And the ISS sample being a mixed bag of curious flavours including “hickory smoked ham” and “rubbery smoke”.
What does this mean for whisky? Ardbeg believes that with all this new information on flavour compounds, we could be looking forward to new flavours in our whiskies in the future.