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Ardbeg Distillery on Islay provides crafted molecules in a "World First" Space Experiment - 10th April, 2012

Pioneering research project on board International Space Station set to be unveiled at Edinburgh’s International Science Festival on Tuesday 10 April

Ardbeg crafted Molecules in SpaceIn the headlong rush of science…in the late autumn of 2011…a rocket ship blasted off from Earth at 25,000 mph.

Deep within it no ordinary cargo; for the rocket carried research vials of precious Ardbeg-crafted molecules, the beginning of a fascinating first – a research experiment by Ardbeg...in space!

This is the most audacious adventure ever undertaken by Ardbeg Distillery – or any other distillery for that matter – and it is set to be unveiled at Edinburgh’s International Science Festival on Tuesday 10 April.

Ardbeg is taking part in an experiment led by US-based space research company NanoRacks LLC to test these micro-organic compounds. The maturation experiment will test the interaction of these Ardbeg-crafted molecules with charred oak. This will take place in normal gravity on Earth and also microgravity, far up in space on the International Space Station.

The vials contain a class of compounds known as “terpenes” – a set of chemicals which are very widespread in nature and often very aromatic and flavour-active – as well as other molecules. It is the interaction of these molecules with oak wood that forms the basis of this maturation experiment.

This is believed to be the first time anyone has ever studied terpenes and other molecules in near zero-gravity.

This experiment could explain the workings of these large, complex molecules as they will remain on the International Space Station for at least two years and help uncover new truths about the change that these molecules undergo in this near zero-gravity environment.

It could also have applications for a variety of commercial and research products, including future generations of Ardbeg.

A photo of the Ardbeg Distillery on IslayWorking in close collaboration with the Ardbeg Distillery team in Scotland, the US team will closely monitor the experiment against control samples here on Earth; both in Houston, Texas at the NanoRacks' facility, and also in Warehouse 3 at Ardbeg Distillery on the Scottish island of Islay.

Michael Johnson, Chief Technical Officer of NanoRacks LLC, said: “By doing this microgravity experiment on the interaction of terpenes and other molecules with the wood samples provided by Ardbeg we will learn much about flavours, even extending to applications like food and perfume. At the same time it should help Ardbeg find new chemical building blocks in their own flavour spectrum.”   

From the Ardbeg side the experiment is being led by Dr Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation at Ardbeg, and widely considered one of the leading innovators in his industry. A chemist by training, Dr Lumsden will unveil the initiative at the Edinburgh International Science Festival on Tuesday 10 April in a talk entitled “Whisky Wisdom – Scotch Whisky; Science, Art or Myth?”

He explained: “This experiment will throw new light on the effect of gravity on the maturation process. We are all tremendously excited by this experiment: who knows where it will lead?”

This historic step for a Scottish Distillery will also allow Ardbeg to reach out to scientific bodies across Scotland and throughout the world with regular updates on progress.

<< See the range of Ardbeg Single Malt Whisky

You can read more about Ardeg Distillery on the distillery website.

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Loch Fyne Whiskies

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Ardbeg Wee Beastie – The Distillery’s Latest Smoky Whisky Is Wreaking Flavour In Its Path

Ardbeg launches a new permanently available 5 Year Old expression – Ardbeg Wee Beastie 

Ardbeg Wee Beastie – The Distillery’s Latest Smoky Whisky Is Wreaking Flavour In Its Path

From April of this year, whisky lovers around the world will get the chance to experience the latest permanent expression to join the Ardbeg core range – Ardbeg Wee Beastie. And at just 5 years old, this feisty and intensely powerful smoky whisky is untamed by age. Read more

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Tullibardine reveals the latest edition to its award-winning range of whiskies.

Tullibardine reveals the latest edition to its award-winning range of whiskies

Tullibardine has unveiled the newest addition to its award-winning Fine Aged Collection – the Tullibardine 15-Year-Old Read more

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Redbreast Irish Whiskey Introduces Its Oldest Ever Permanent Expression, 27 Years In The Making

Redbreast Irish Whiskey Introduces Its Oldest Ever Permanent Expression, 27 Years In The Making

Irish Distillers, makers of some of the world’s most enjoyed whiskeys, has introduced Redbreast 27 Year Old, the oldest permanent expression in the beloved Redbreast series. An iconic addition to the collection, Redbreast 27 Year Old includes whiskey matured in ruby port barrels from Portugal’s Douro Valley to bring a new complexity and depth to the Redbreast collection. Read more

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Limited-edition Glenfarclas Pagoda Ruby Reserve released in Glencairn Crystal decanters embellished with rubies

Limited-edition Glenfarclas Pagoda Ruby Reserve released in Glencairn Crystal decanters embellished with rubies

Glenfarclas has globally released it’s much awaited limited-edition Pagoda Ruby Reserve. The distillery’s oldest whisky released to date has been aged for 62 years and is beautifully presented in a stunning Glencairn decanter featuring hand-mounted precious rubies. Read more

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Kerry and Derek Campbell, are behind new micro-distillery set for John O’Groats, Scotland's Northernmost Mainland Whisky Distillery

Local husband and wife team Kerry and Derek Campbell set to open John O'Groats whisky distillery in the summer of 2021

A new micro Scotch whisky distillery is set to open in John O’Groats in 2021, following planning permission secured yesterday (2 March 2020) for a 32,670 square foot site which will house a distillery, visitor centre and bonded warehouse. Read more

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