The first whisky glass engineered to work in microgravity.
See it in action | See how it was made | Watch how we will drink from the Space Glass in the future
In 2015, Ballantine’s embarked on designing a glass to ensure that in the future, we’ll take whisky with us. We’re delighted to launch the Ballantine’s Space Glass, having engineered and tested our prototype in micro gravity at the ZARM Drop Tower, Bremen, Germany.
The curved shape of the space glass is designed to fit in the palm of your hand with a weighted, rose gold base giving it a heavy feel here on Earth. (The effect is obviously negligible in microgravity.)
Gold is often used in space technology as it deflects the radiation of the sun, but in this instance it’s highly unreactive properties serves to prevent the glass from affecting the whisky’s taste. The rose gold colour is also reminiscent of the copper used in the whisky distillation process, a nod to our rich history.
James Parr from the Open Space Agency, who led the design and build of the glass, is convinced the glass heralds a new era of open-source space design and a landmark for the future of whisky.
“Our brief was to develop a whisky glass that worked under the conditions of microgravity, the scientific term for zero gravity.”
“It was important that we focused on creating a ritual around how you drink from the Ballantine’s Space Glass to ensure a familiarity of what we are used to here on earth — the end result is one with several elements to that ritual, from the liquid entering the glass through to sipping from it.”
Space Glass Features In Detail
The glass has a spiral convex base plate and this gold plate creates surface tension to hold the whisky down in a reservoir at the bottom of the glass. Connected to this reservoir is a helix and a small channel runs up the side of the glass to carry the liquid up to the rose gold mouthpiece, where the liquid waits for the space traveller to drink it.
Included in the base of the glass is a 10kg pull magnet for easy docking with a bespoke whisky insert nozzle, for putting the Glass “down” on a metallic microgravity bar or even on a wall. The custom loading nozzle inserts into the one way valve situated on the base of the glass and subsequently solves the problem of pouring in microgravity conditions. This allows whisky to seamlessly flow into the glass from a standard bottle of Ballantine’s Finest — meaning you won’t spill a drop of your favourite dram.
James Parr talks us through getting whisky into the Space Glass:
“We are using inertia and the notion that the whisky will stay at rest while the bottle and the glass is moved around the resting liquid. Motion one pulls the whisky into the base of the glass, then motion two is to roll the whisky in your hand and let the heat transfer through the metal base into the liquid itself. Step three involves then moving the glass down prior to moving your nose into the space where the vapours are resting. The final motion is to move the glass upwards to capture the liquid in the base plate and let it enter your mouth.”
3D Printing: the future of mass manufacturing
The obvious benefit of 3D printing is that it is future-proof. For example there is currently a printer on the International Space Station (I.S.S) and it is undoubtedly the best way to manufacture products in space.
One of the challenges of using plastic is that you lose the premium feel of glass or crystal. The Ballantine’s Space Glass negotiates this by including a Rose Gold mouthpiece, which still gives you that evocative, cold touch on your lip as you drink. It is also the key indicator to guide your mouth to the top of the helix.
“Not only is the glass innovative — solving fundamental scientific questions of how liquid moves in zero gravity — but it is also beautifully designed, with the ritual of the whisky drinking experience at its heart.”
— Peter Moore, Brand Director, Ballantine’s
Of course, the Ballantine’s Space Glass has also been designed for enjoyment here on Earth.
It may be years, decades or centuries until the Ballantine’s Space Glass can be fully enjoyed from your first space flight. So in the meantime we’re looking at ways you can experience it right here on Earth. To accompany our Space Glass Ballantine’s Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop, has subsquently crafted a special batch of scotch whisky to enjoy in space.
“The Ballantine’s Space Glass is built around
the whisky drinking experience.”
— Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s Master Blender
“The warming element from hand to glass is important to me because the whisky warms up while you are drinking it, unlocking aromas to ensure a multi-sensory experience. It’s fantastic that this has been achieved, so Ballantine’s inaugural space blend has a fitting vessel specifically built for zero gravity.”
“In space, you do not experience the sense of smell and taste with the same intensity as you do on earth,” Sandy explains. “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.”
Tasting notes for the Special Batch Ballantine’s Space Whisky
Nose: Notes of sweet honey and creamy vanilla intermingled with fragrant clementine oranges, old fashioned barley sugar sweets with a hint of liquorice spice
Taste: Fills the mouth with Honey flavours echoing the nose, crunchy sweet toffee apple and soft cinnamon Edinburgh rock sweets. Rich and complex
Finish: Balanced sweet and incredibly smooth, with a hint of spice.