What do you get the astronaut who has everything? How about a whisky glass that works in microgravity? And by “works”, we mean, “doesn’t result in globules of whisky wafting off around the space station and potentially ruining something expensive or crucial”. But where would you come by such a thing? Ballantine’s and the Open Space Agency, that’s where.
In a rather novel public relations move, Ballantine’s presents the “Space Glass“. The whisky maker roped in James Parr, head of the Open Space Agency, who led the design and manufacture of the glass, and Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s master blender. Hyslop also went to the trouble of making a special batch of Ballantine’s Scotch whisky that takes into account the way human’s taste buds are affected in space.
“In space, you do not experience the sense of smell and taste with the same intensity as you do on Earth,” says Hyslop. “This meant I had to make the Ballantine’s Space Whisky more heightened in flavour and robust whilst maintaining the Ballantine’s signature style. Astronauts miss the taste of home, so crafting a fruitier, stronger, more floral blend is a way they can keep the taste of home with them.” Assuming they drink Ballantine’s at home, of course, that is.
Beyond the marketing exercise, Ballantines claims the rise of “astropreneurship” (we promise not to call it that, ever, dear reader) and space tourism prompted it to look at designing objects space travellers might use in orbit. In which case a whisky glass probably makes a great deal of sense.
If you can afford to be a space tourist you may well want a dram to celebrate the experience. If, on the other hand, you’ve been shipped to Mars to start the first human colony there, away from friends and family and unlikely to set foot on earth ever again, a scotch might be just the thing to take the edge of your unenviable lot.
“The way liquids behave and are controlled in space is one of the fundamental challenges of space exploration; one of the fundamental things on which rocket scientists have worked so hard. As soon as you get out of earth’s gravity, liquids don’t behave as liquids should,” Parr explains, adding that Ballantine’s set out to design a glass that would work both in space and on Earth.
Rather than glass, the Space Glass is actually made from 3D-printed, medical-grade plastic. Small channels in the side of tumbler move liquid from the convex stainless steel base coated in rose gold — which the liquid sticks to — around to a mouthpiece (which is also made of gold).
A magnet in the base of the glass allows it to be attached to specially designed whisky bottles from which it can be stocked, so to speak. This means no floating blobs of whisky, but rather, something akin to a sippy cup for grownups. Cheers!