In 2011 the Ardbeg Distillery in Scotland partnered with Texas space research company NanoRacks to launch a vial of unmatured malt and charred oak pieces into orbit. The vial was launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket later that same year while an identical vial was kept as a control in the Ardbeg distillery. On September 12th, 2014 the vial is scheduled to return to Earth so the two can be compared. The hope in the experiment is to see how microgravity conditions affect the maturation process of whisky.
Since we launched Ardbeg's first whisky experiment into space in 2011 – in the shape of vials of Ardbeg-crafted molecules – it has been orbiting the planet on the International Space Station at 17,227 miles per hour, 15 times a day.
To re-cap, the vials contained a class of compounds known as 'terpenes.' Ardbeg was invited by US based space research company NanoRacks LLC to take part in testing these micro organic compounds in a maturation experiment (the interaction of these compounds with charred oak) between normal gravity on Earth and micro- gravity i.e. space.