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ArdbegCustomer in Focus: Ardbeg
Everyone in Lithuania thought space was unaffordable…and we proved them wrong.
–Laurynas Maciulis, Project Manager

Ardbeg Overview
Founded in 1815 and based in Scotland, Ardbeg Distiller is the producer of one of the world’s most complex, single malt whiskies. Ardbeg produces one million liters of whisky each year and has become renowned for their unique marketing and advertising style. In 2011, Ardbeg Distillery became the first whiskey producer to connect the processes of a distillery to processes in space through NanoRacks, highlighting the consumer connection to the prestige of space-based research.

Business Need
Ardbeg Distillery 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.

NanoRacks has developed small vials known as “MixStix” which contain a terpene-filled solution and some oak. This mirrors the solutions that Ardbeg has in Houston and in Scotland. NanoRacks arranges via NASA to transport the research onto a launch vehicle and for the safe return of the experiments. The scientists from both NanoRacks and Ardbeg to decide how long the terpene solution will stay aboard the space station.

Ardbeg received extraordinary worldwide publicity from hundred of newspapers, social media and the like. The response was so huge that the Company sponsored a tour of US universities with a rocket themed promotional truck. The return on investment was out of this world.

From a scientific view, the data received from the Ardbeg space station program could be a key component of future types of whiskeys, foods, or anything where flavoring and tastes are critical. Ardbeg will now be able to see protein crystals grow larger and give insight into the chemical structures.

This research will benefit Ardbeg’s parent company, LVMH Group, which has over 60 prestigious consumer brands, including cosmetics and perfumes. NanoRacks’ and Ardbeg’s partnership has shown how association with the International Space Station can advance branding for consumer interest.

More details about missions by Ardbeg:

Terpene Extraction

A commercial investigation studying the extraction of terpenes from wood samples. Upon activation by a crewmember, dry wood samples interact with 6 mL of a 50/50 water and ethanol solution. The MixStix are then stowed until returning to earth where the samples are analyzed by the customer, Ardbeg.

Customer Name: Ardbeg
Research: Terpene Extraction in Microgravity
NanoRacks Facility…

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