Japanese whiskey distiller Suntory is about to take one small step for whiskey and one giant leap for alcohol when it blasts into orbit in order to study what effects that the atmosphere of space, or lack thereof, has on the company’s fine whiskeys. The findings from this out of this world experiment could benefit earthbound drinkers.
Suntory has decided to ship some of its alcoholic offerings into outer space aboard a shuttle destined for the International Space Station on the 16th of August. The company is conducting this extraterrestrial experiment in the name of mellowness. Suntory wants to know what effects space could have on the mellowness of liquor.
Alcoholic beverages, with the exception of beers and ales, are typically known to mellow the longer that they age. Suntory claims that scientist the world over have conducted studies, but none of them have been conclusive as to what causes the alcohol to mellow. Suntory hopes to finally provide an answer one of the questions that has plagued mankind for quite some time.
Suntory plans on launching five different types of spirits with 40% alcohol into orbit by way of a Japanese module on the International Space Station. One group will stay in orbit for an entire year, while the other remains in outer space for an additional two years. A control group will stay safely behind on Earth so the company can confidently discern what effect, if any, outer space has on alcohol.
The company will run some high tech tests including X-Rays and phase shifting interferometers on each group of alcohol at the end of the study to better understand how the molecules in each group mellowed over time, and if there was any difference made between each group.
Suntory hopes to finally provide an accurate answer as to by what mechanism alcohol mellows.
Also involved in the research are scientists from the University of Tokyo and Tohoku University.
Suntory isn’t actually the first distillery to have dreams of the stars. Ardbeg, a Scotland distillery, sent some of their whiskey into space back in 2011. The samples entered the Earth’s atmosphere in 2014, when they landed Kazakhstan, and they are still being studied for differences to their control group.