Ardbeg 'space whisky' set for return to Earth

image copyrightNASA
image captionThe vial of Ardbeg malt was blasted up to the International Space Station in 2011

Whisky that was fired into space three years ago as part of a scientific experiment is to return to Earth next month.

A vial of unmatured malt from the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay was blasted up to the International Space Station in a cargo spacecraft in October 2011, along with particles of charred oak.

Scientists hope to understand how they interact at close-to-zero gravity.

It is expected to land in Kazakhstan aboard a rocket on 12 September.

The vial of Ardbeg has already been orbiting the Earth's atmosphere for 1,045 days.

Ardbeg was invited in late 2011 by Texas-based space research company NanoRacks to take part in the space experiment.

The vial, launched by Soyuz rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan in late 2011, contains a class of chemical compounds known as "terpenes".

An identical bottle has been housed at the distillery on Islay to act as a control sample.

The two samples will then be reunited at a laboratory in Houston, Texas, where scientists will compare them to see what differences there are between Earth whisky and space whisky.

image copyrightPaul Dodds
image captionArdbeg's director of distilling, Bill Lumsden, says the experiment could revolutionise whisky making

Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg's director of distilling and whisky creation, said: "This is one small step for man but one giant leap for whisky.

"The team hope to uncover how flavours develop in different gravitational conditions - findings which could revolutionise the whisky-making process.

"We hope to shine new light on the effect of gravity on the maturation process but who knows where it will lead us? It could be to infinity and beyond."

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