Ardbeg Supernova flavoured from space

The Glenmorangie Company has released a new expression of Ardbeg, its Islay single malt scotch whisky, following an experiment to investigate how micro or zero gravity would affect the flavour of whisky.

The company says the experiment began in October 2011 when vials of new make Ardbeg distillate and shards of Ardbeg casks were sent to the US National Lab on the international space station by the distillery’s partner, US space research company, NanoRacks.

The vials orbited Earth at 17,227 miles an hour for nearly three years.

Glenmorangie/Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden then analysed them alongside control samples. He said: “When I nosed and tasted the space samples, it became clear that much more of Ardberg’s smoky, phenolic character shone through – to reveal a different set of smoky flavours which I have not encountered here on Earth before.”

Further analysis, looking at ratios of types of wood extractive compounds showed differences between the two sets of samples, which the company says shows that gravity has an effect of maturation.

So, the distillery has released what it describes as its final bottling of Ardbeg Supernova (non-chill filtered, bottled at 54.3% abv, £124.99) exclusively to its loyal following, the ‘Ardbeg Committee’ (120,000 in more than 130 countries). It is said to contain the most highly peated Ardbeg, said to provide an “intensity reminiscent of the exploding star after which it is named”.