This US$75,000 bourbon will be launched into orbit and aged in outer space

This whiskey better be out of this world

You’ve heard of bourbon aged on ships, in rail cars, or pummelled with heavy metal music. But one craft distillery is taking things to a new level by launching its whiskey into orbit for a year of outer space aging. No one will get to try this bourbon for at least four years, so it remains to be seen if it will be worth the US$75,000 price tag.

Mystic Galactic is distilled at Mystic Farm & Distillery in Durham, NC from a mash bill of 55 per cent corn and 45 per cent wheat (the grains are grown specifically for the distillery in Hillsborough, NC). The bourbon is currently aging in new charred oak 53-gallon barrels which will be fortified with titanium hoops before being sent into space to ensure that they survive the journey, so the whiskey will have to be dumped and then re-barrelled into these same barrels before launch. We spoke to Mystic Farm founder Jonathan Blitz about this, and he said that baffles would also be put inside the barrels for stability. “If the barrels dance around during reentry,” he said, “the space craft in some of the simulations would actually flip over. That’s really, really bad.” The Exploration Company is the Berlin-based vendor who will be rocketing the barrels into space on a vehicle called the Nyx, and it will orbit for a full year. Finally, the service module will detach and burn up upon reentry, while the orbiter will splash down into the ocean with, hopefully, some good whiskey on board.

You may be wondering if bourbon can be aged in outer space, because according to the TTB it must be “produced in the United States.” Most people interpret this to include maturation, but perhaps the language is vague enough to allow orbital aging. “It’s bourbon as soon as it’s stored in a new charred oak container,” said Blitz. “So the product that’s going up is bourbon now.” He applied for a COLA (Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption), but withdrew it because the TTB had an issue with the fact that the whiskey was being taken out of the barrels temporarily and would be considered a “distilled spirit specialty” instead of bourbon. “End of the day, the label’s gonna say ‘bourbon whiskey.’ It might say ‘bourbon whiskey aged in orbit,’ it might say ‘bourbon whiskey put into an orbital barrel aged for one year in orbit,’ but the base product is bourbon whiskey.”

That’s the who, what, when, and how of Mystic Galactic, but why? “The number one thing is because it’s the ultimate flex to have something this rare and exceptional with this kind of pedigree,” said Blitz. “You have that behind your bar, you are the gatekeeper to an experience that only a few thousand people on this planet will ever have—to taste Galactic. Second, we want to be the first people to do it… And the third thing is I want to know what it tastes like myself.” There will be control barrels from the same lot aged simultaneously on earth to compare the space bourbon to called, of course, Ground Control.

If you suspected there would be an NFT involved here, you would be right. There will be about 1,000 bottles available at the end of this project, and the company says that using NFTs is really the only way to track them and ensure that they end up in the right hands. So if you’re ready to shell out 75 grand, you can head over to the website to sign up (and refunds are available if the whole thing goes up in literal smoke).

This story was first published in Robb Report USA