The lonely astronaut is about to get a companion.
The Japanese distillery company, Suntory, announced that it is partnering with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the International Space Station to launch its world-class whiskey into space.
Last year, Suntory dethroned the Scots for the title of the world’s best whiskey with its Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013. It marked the first time that a non-Scotch whisky was given the title by the highly-esteemed Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. (For more on whisky vs. whiskey, see here.)
Alas, according to the press release, the point of the mission is not to provide astronauts with fine whiskey, but to test the way zero-gravity affects the ageing and taste of the liquor. “With the exception of some items like beer, alcoholic beverages are widely known to develop a mellow flavor when aged for a long time,” the company writes. Scientists and Suntory hope that the alcoholic space mission will help determine the source of this mellowing process.
The whiskey’s launch date is August 16, when it will fly aboard JAXA’s transfer vehicle Kounotori. A spokesman for the company told the Wall Street Journal that Suntory will be sending two different whiskies: a single malt aged for 21 years and another whiskey that was just distilled.
Half of the samples will return to Earth after one year while the other half will remain in space for an additional year. Suntory has not announced plans for the space whiskey’s future consumption.