Press Release

Ardbeg Distillery Launches U.S. Rocket Tour Celebrating “World First” Space Experiment

By SpaceRef Editor
May 1, 2012
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Ardbeg Distillery is pleased to announce the U.S. Ardbeg Rocket Tour. The tour, which will showcase a life-size rocket, celebrates Ardbeg’s participation in a pioneering research project on board the International Space Station.

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The Ardbeg Rocket Tour will kick off in Chicago on May 3, 2012 and will stop in 22 states in 28 weeks. Tour stops include key U.S. landmarks in states including California, Texas, New York and Florida. An Ardbeg Brand Ambassador will be on board the tour to educate consumers on the experiment, the brand, and where legal, to sample Ardbeg, recently rated by The Whisky Bible as the “Best Single Malt Scotch – 10 Years and Under.” Fans can follow the Rocket Tour during its nationwide adventures via live updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.

“Ardbeg has always been a hugely innovative brand. Therefore, it only made sense that we would participate in this ground-breaking experiment,” says Geraud Leclercq, U.S. Business Director for Ardbeg. “This tour is the perfect opportunity to educate our consumers about this exciting Ardbeg maturation experiment in micro gravity, which holds out the tantalising prospect of, maybe, being able to develop innovative new products in the years to come.

The scientific experiment itself will last for at least two years during which the Ardbeg Distillery team will provide regular updates on its progress.”

About the experiment:

In the fall 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. Ardbeg is taking part in an experiment led by U.S.-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. Working in close collaboration with the Ardbeg Distillery team in Scotland, the U.S. 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.

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?”

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Notes for Editors

The ground-breaking study blasted off when samples of the Ardbeg-crafted molecules took off for the International Space Station (ISS) in the unmanned Russian Progress 45 cargo spacecraft.

The spaceship was launched via a Soyuz booster rocket at 10.11am GMT on 30 October 2011 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It docked with astronauts at the International Space Station at 11.41am GMT on 2 November 2011.

About Ardbeg

Ardbeg prides itself on being the ‘Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky’. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by connoisseurs around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most complex of all the Islay malts widely available. Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its devilishly delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’.

Responsible Drinking

Ardbeg and The Glenmorangie Company advocate responsible drinking and suggest that drinkers savour whiskies in moderation and in line with recommended daily guidelines for alcohol consumption.

SpaceRef staff editor.