Back in 2011, a group of alcoholics masquerading as scientists managed to somehow persuade their bosses that sending (very small) vials of whiskey to space was a viable 'experiment'. Four years on, the whiskey has eluded the clutches of the ISS astronauts and has landed safely back on Earth.
The idea behind the experiment, a collaboration between US-based space research firm NanoRacks, and Ardberg Distillery, was to send a few vials of terpenes to space to see how they interact with charred oak in micro-gravity, versus being on earth. Terpenes are the basic building block of whiskey, and the hope is that by comparing the space vials against boring, earth-bound vials that have been maturing for the same time in normal gravity back in Scotland, new ideas about chemistry (and whiskey!) can be discovered.
The vials are currently in Kazakhstan, from where they will be taken back to lab in Houston and thoroughly analysed — and, hopefully, not just drunk by an unscrupulous handyman. If everything goes to plan, Ardberg's chief whiskey scientists, Dr Bill Lumsden, will be releasing a white paper on the proceedings in due course. I look forward with bated (and only slightly boozy) breath. [Ardberg via SlashGear]