In a story particularly fit for the start of the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese distiller Suntory in cooperation with the Japanese Space Agency JAXA, is planning to ship several samples of its world renown whisky to the International Space Station for study into how most alcoholic beverages mellow over time.
It even sounds scientific.
According to the Suntory press release:
“With the exception of some items like beer, alcoholic beverages are widely known to develop a mellow flavor when aged for a long time. Although researchers have taken a variety of scientific approaches to elucidating the underlying mechanism, we still do not have a full picture of how this occurs.
Our company has hypothesized that “the formation of high-dimensional molecular structure consisting of water, ethanol, and other ingredients in alcoholic beverages contributes to the development of mellowness,” and we have been conducting collaborative researches on this topic with research groups of Professor Shigenao Maruyama of the Institute of Fluid Science, Tohoku University and Professor Mitsuhiro Shibayama of the Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo, the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute and Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences. The results of these collaborative researches have suggested the probability that mellowness develops by promoted formation of the high-dimensional molecular structure in the alcoholic beverage in environments where liquid convection is suppressed.
On the basis of these results, the space experiments will be conducted to verify the effect of the convection-free state created by a microgravity environment to the mellowing of alcoholic beverage.”
The whisky will ride to orbit stowed abort Japan’s HTV cargo vessel, which is scheduled to launch on August 16th, and according to the plan, one batch will remain on-board in the Kibo module for a period of a year, while a second sample will reside for at least a two year stint, presumably under lock and key.
Lest ye not think this represents a contribution to science in the finest tradition, consider this one fact. To many a palette, there is no greater pleasure than that derived from another adult product inextricably associated with long voyages, the India Pale Ale. Whether you are a two teetotaler or a two-fisted drinker, be assured of this, the human race is inevitably going to takes its pleasures and its vices, depending on your perspective, with it into deepest space.
So in that vein, by all means let NASA’s Journey to Mars get underway, particularly if it means a Martian equivalent of the IPA is waiting to be born.