We should pity the astronauts on the International Space Station, especially the two who are currently there for a year.
Just feet away from where they probably drink their Tang, the Japanese Experiment Module will soon hold samples of that country’s legendary Suntory whiskey to see how it ages in microgravity.
Suntory announced last week that it was sending whiskey samples on a Japanese transfer vehicle that will take off on Aug. 16 to rendezvous with the ISS. Some of the whiskey will be stored for up to two years to see how it mellows in space.
Presumably, the astronauts, who are charged with overseeing and conducting experiments, will not get to taste and track the mellowness of the whiskey.
Suntory whiskey is celebrated around the world, though it may only have become familiar to some because of the movie Lost in Translation, where Bill Murray plays an aging celebrity in Japan to film a commercial for Suntory.
Murray struggles to understand the direction of the crew as he repeats the line, “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”
While both Murray’s character and the story are fiction, the scene is based on actual Suntory commercials and ads that use global celebrities.
Suntory is clearly focused on the fluid sciences and is all business with the space experiment.
“Our company has hypothesized that the formation of high-dimensional molecular structure consisting of water, ethanol and other ingredients in alcoholic beverages contributes to the development of mellowness,” a news release issued by Suntory on July 30 stated. “The Suntory Group aims to use these experiments to help find (a) scientific explanation for the mechanism that makes alcohol mellow.”
But Suntory could hire astronaut Scott Kelly to sit in the space station’s observation cupola, the beautiful earth in view, gently catching floating blobs of whiskey in the weightlessness of space.
He could deliver a line like, “After a four-hour EVA, it’s Suntory time.”