In 2011, vials of Ardbeg scotch whiskey were sent to the International Space Station as part of an experiment to see how the spirits' maturation process is affected by the near zero gravity of near space. Now it's almost time for a homecoming.
According to the folks at the Ardbeg distillery, which dates back to the early 19th century on the Hebrides Islands of Scotland:
"The vials contained a class of compounds known as 'terpenes.' Ardbeg was invited by US-based space research company NanoRacks LLC to take part in testing these micro organic compounds in a maturation experiment (the interaction of these compounds with charred oak) between normal gravity on Earth and micro-gravity i.e. space."
After orbiting the Earth over 15,000 times at a speed of 17,227 miles per hour the past few years, the single malt is scheduled to return to terra firma on September 12.
After landing in Kazakhstan, the extra-terrestrially aged booze will be rushed to a lab in Houston, where Ardbeg says a team including the whiskey's creator will "proceed to unlock the mysteries of maturation, through the study of the interaction between Ardbeg-crafted molecules and charred oak, both in micro-gravity (in orbit) and normal gravity (in Ardbeg's Warehouse 3)."
The result will be a white paper that reveals the secrets of the universe and their effects on a good single malt. And perhaps we'll have a new answer to the great existential question of why we seem to be so isolated in the vast universe -- because the best of the hard stuff is being made and hoarded out there.
If not, no biggie. We'll still have a brand new space whiskey to console our lonesome selves with. Humans win!