The best whisky on Earth is headed into space.
Yesterday, Japanese distillery Suntory announced it's shipping booze to Kibo, Japan's module on the International Space Station. Unfortunately, astronauts aren't going to pound shots of the earthly delight. The whisky's being experimented on, instead: Scientists want to know how microgravity might make alcohol age faster. It's a collaboration with JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
The whisky's going to be launched from Japan in August, and will be split into two groups. The liquor in group 1 will be studied for a year in microgravity conditions, while group 2 will be experimented on for two or more.
In a press release, Suntory writes: "With the exception of some items like beer, alcoholic beverages are widely known to develop a mellow flavour when aged for a long time." But? "We still do not have a full picture of how this occurs." So the team's hoping the experiments solve some alcoholic mysteries. According to a company rep, research suggests that environments with few temperature changes — like, say, a low-orbit satellite — are conducive to mellower whisky.
The study, entitled "Elucidating the Mechanism Mellowing Alcoholic Beverage," comes at a time in which Japanese whisky is a global craze. Last year, a Suntory whisky was named finest in the world, even beating out Scotland, aka whisky central.
Speeding up such an ageing process in weird conditions isn't a new thing in the science world. In fact, it's been happening for a while: from kombucha aboard the ISS, to beer brewed with space-travelled yeast.