Whisky matured in microgravity with very different flavours. Research into terpenes.

Updated: 2023-03-12

Created: 2018-11-01


Ardberg Distillery and NanoRacks had whisky samples matured in space for 3 years from 2011-2014, but it did not taste very well.1 2


  • Novelty drink.
  • Publicity for microgravity commercialization.
  • Terpenes are used in hundreds of products.

Why & Solution

Ardbeg wished to be associated with the demographics world-wide that embrace space exploration. But the policies of NASA prohibit blatant commercial programs. NanoRacks proposed and received NASA permission for Ardbeg to undertake a company sponsored research project to study what happens in the absence of gravity on a class of molecules called terpenes. Terpenes are essential to the smells, tastes and flavorings of foods, perfumes and liquors. Ardbeg wanted to understand whether new flavors and tastes are possible when interacting with oak barrels in the absence of gravity found in the space environment.4

Scientifically, Ardberg and NanoRacks studied the extraction of terpenes from wood samples. Hundreds of everyday products include terpenes including beverages, perfumes and cosmetics. Synthetic variations of terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of flavors used in food additives. The ingredients of terpenes have been shown to serve as natural agricultural pesticides. Hence, the understanding of terpenes extracted without gravity may well produce new understandings of a wide range of new products and processes.1

Revenue Estimation

Cost Estimation

Likely starting from \$150,000 - \$200,000 per liter when fully made in space.

Earthly Solution Risk

Taste might be imitated eventually, but uniqueness remains.


  1. NanoRacks. Terpene Extraction. 2011. Source

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  2. Loren Grush, The Verge. Whiskey aged in space tastes like throat lozenges and rubbery smoke. Published 2015-09-15. Accessed 2018-11-15. Source

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  3. Terpene, ScienceDirect. Accessed 2018-11-27. Source

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  4. NanoRacks, Overview of Ardberg. Accessed 2018-11-27. Source

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