In space, no one can hear you belch. Ballantine’s has designed and launched a 3D printed whisky glass, for drinking in zero gravity.
This is a marketing stunt, pure and simple. A whisky brand pays a marketing agency to cook up the strapline “we’ll take whisky with us”, and then pours more budget into developing a 3D printed whisky glass that allows astronauts to drink their favourite tipple in zero gravity conditions.
Throw in a flashy video to demonstrate the proof of concept, and BANG, guaranteed column inches in the technology press. And yes, we’ve fallen for it too, like the proverbial dog trained by Pavlov. Well played, Ballantine’s, well played.
So how does it work? According to the design notes published on Medium:
“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.”
Aside from the the 3D printed gold and plastic components however, perhaps the most eye-rolling feature is the option to dock the glass directly onto a bottle, much like a space shuttle would dock with a space station.
“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.”
3D Printed Whisky Glass plus… Space Whisky?
But of course, there’s no point having a 3D printed whisky glass without some whisky to drink out of it. To this end, Ballantine’s have also devised a limited edition batch of Space Whisky, with tasting notes like sweet honey, creamy vanilla, clementine oranges, barley sugar sweets, and liquorice spice.
Don’t rush out to buy this whisky just yet, however. Research conducted in 2011 found that the effects of zero-gravity also have a profound impact on the flavor of whisky. Ardbeg Distillery sent a vial of unmatured malt whisky into space and back, and said its space samples were “noticeably different” in terms of aroma and taste.
All of which tells us that, if you were lucky enough to be floating in space, and if you were given one of these ridiculously over-engineered tumblers to drink out of, there’s no guarantee that the whisky won’t be spoiled or changed by the lack of gravity. Back to the drawing board for Ballantine’s, it looks like.
License: The text of "3D Printed Whisky Glass: Get Properly Drunk in Space" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.