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The Glenlivet Considers Space-Travelling Barley Seeds

The Glenlivet partnered not too long ago with the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph on a space-based experiment to study how barley seeds could withstand the effects of extreme conditions and still be used to create a new single malt expression.

The Glenlivet space-traveling barley seeds, done in conjunction with the college and also technology company Aegis Aerospace, saw them hitch a ride into space in May 2021 on a SpaceX rocket. They were taken aboard the International Space Station where, during the testing period, the seeds were subject to extreme conditions, including zero gravity and the vacuum of space.

The results are now being analysed against the conditions the seeds were exposed to, which will help determine which deep space conditions they could survive. This experiment is part of the university’s ongoing research into growing crops in space. The goal of the trial is to ensure access to fresh produce for astronauts on long-term missions, as well as providing clean water captured from the transpiration process, providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

The Glenlivet space barley seeds
The Glenlivet partnered not too long ago with the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph on a space-based experiment to study how barley seeds could withstand the effects of extreme conditions and still be used to create a new single malt expression. (image via The Glenlivet)

“We are always looking for new ways to innovate our single malt production and by partnering with the University of Guelph on their trailblazing space experiment,” said Jayne Murphy, Marketing Director for The Glenlivet, in a prepared statement, “we had the opportunity to do exactly that. We are excited to see how the seeds will perform as they are planted, harvested, malted and distilled into one of our iconic single malts.

“We hope it will produce a new, extra-terrestrial expression with a wonderful taste.”

“Historically when humans have discovered new land,” added School of Environmental Sciences professor and Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility director, Dr. Mike Dixon, “they have produced alcohol, including whisky. As a whisky enthusiast, I want to keep this tradition going as we continue to explore the possibility of life on other planets.

“We look forward to working with The Glenlivet and following the journey of the barley seeds back on Earth.”

As part of the overall recent marking of the return of the seeds to Earth, the distillery put up a sign at its Speyside location welcoming visitors to to ‘Space’-side.

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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