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The Glenlivet creates ‘Space-side’ sign to welcome back barley to Earth

Signage has appeared at The Glenlivet Distillery in Speyside to mark the return to Earth of the barley seeds sent to space.

The University of Guelph, Canada, sent barley seeds to space in partnership last year with The Glenlivet. Now they’ve returned, and analysis is currently ongoing to work out the results of the barley and whether they can survive in space.

The seeds travelled to space in May 2021 on a SpaceX rocket, where the seeds were subjected to extreme conditions, including zero gravity and the vacuum of space. 

The returning seeds will be planted, malted and distilled into an astronomical expression of one of the brand’s single malts.

Dr. Mike Dixon, professor at the School of Environmental Sciences, led the experiment as part of the university’s research programme into space crop survival. He 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.”

The purpose of the research is to trial access to fresh produce for astronauts on long-term space missions. 

Visitors to the distillery will now be able to see the sign which commemorates the landmark event, which is said to be the latest step in The Glenlivet’s creative innovation.

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.”

1 September 2022 - Bradley Weir