After three years in space – aboard the international space station, to be exact – a vial of whiskey from the Ardbeg Distillery has returned to Earth for a taste test.
Here, I have to quote directly from the taster’s notes, because anything shy of them would entirely miss the point:
Ardbeg tasting notes from experiment:
Earth sample: “The sample had a woody aroma, reminiscent of an aged Ardbeg style, with hints of cedar, sweet smoke and aged balsamic vinegar, as well as raisins, treacle toffee, vanilla and burnt oranges.
“On the palate, its woody, balsamic flavours shone through, along with a distant fruitiness, some charcoal and antiseptic notes, leading to a long, lingering aftertaste, with flavours of gentle smoke, tar and creamy fudge.”
Space sample: “Its intense aroma had hints of antiseptic smoke, rubber and smoked fish, along with a curious, perfumed note, like violet or cassis, and powerful woody tones, leading to a meaty aroma.
“The taste was very focused, with smoked fruits such as prunes, raisins, sugared plums and cherries, earthy peat smoke, peppermint, aniseed, cinnamon and smoked bacon or hickory-smoked ham. The aftertaste is intense and long, with hints of wood, antiseptic lozenges and rubbery smoke.”
Personally, I find taste-testers to be a curious lot with their off the wall flavor and aroma comparisons, “hints of wood [and] antiseptic lozenges” and with an n=1, and the fact that the taste-test was almost certainly not blinded, there seems to be little science actually happening here.
But, who am I to complain. There is at least some data. This is not a good place to age your whiskey: