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Welcome to ‘Space’-side: The Glenlivet celebrates the return of space-travelling barley seeds


In a giant leap for ‘dramkind’ The Glenlivet, the original Speyside single malt, is welcoming visitors to The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside to ‘Space’-side*. Signage appeared overnight to mark the return to Earth of barley seeds sent to space by the University of Guelph, Canada in collaboration with The Glenlivet. The seeds were put to test last year as part of a study to see if they could withstand the effects of extreme conditions at the International Space Station and still be used to create a stellar new expression of The Glenlivet single malt.

Known for originality and breaking convention, this is the latest way The Glenlivet continues to shape the future of single malt. In collaboration with the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph and technology company Aegis Aerospace Inc, the barley seeds were sent into space in May 2021 on a SpaceX rocket. 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.

The experiment was led by School of Environmental Sciences professor and Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility director, Dr. Mike Dixon as 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.

Jayne Murphy, Marketing Director for The Glenlivet commented:

“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, 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.”

Dr. Mike Dixon commented:

“Historically when humans have discovered new land, 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.”

See the sign celebrating the space-travelling barley seeds at the home of The Glenlivet at the distillery in Speyside and watch this space for news on The Glenlivet’s ‘Space’-side Scotch whisky!

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