Ardbeg Distillery, a Scotland-based producer of single Islay malt Scotch whisky, has teamed up with space research company NanoRacks to study the maturation of malt, a key ingredient in whisky, in zero gravity state.

As part of the experiment, Ardbeg had sent compounds of unmatured malt to the International Space Station (ISS) via an unmanned cargo spaceship in October 2011.

The unmatured whisky was blended with charred oak on board to observe how zero-gravity affected the maturation process.

Scientists intend to conduct a number of tests to find the reaction of terpenes, derived from unmatured malt and charred oak, which add aroma and flavour to whisky, and other molecules in zero-gravity condition.

The research team is also working on the particles of the two key compounds used in whisky making process under regular gravity, and the results from the two experiments will be studied to learn the maturation process.

The molecules of malt and charred oak will be preserved at the space station until 2013 to further study the change in the zero-gravity state.

NanoRacks released the findings of the tests at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

The study is likely to be used by Ardbeg and other distilleries to develop new flavours and variants.

NanoRacks chief technical officer Michael Johnson told The Press Association that the study on terpenes and other molecules of malt and charred oak will provide new information on flavours, and the results can be useful for the alcohol and other industries.

"At the same time it should help Ardbeg find new chemical building blocks in their own flavour spectrum," Johnson added.

Ardbeg distilling and whisky creation head Bill Lumsden said the study will be helpful to learn the effect of gravity on the maturation process.

Ardbeg Distillery whisky range includes Ardbeg Blasda, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Corryvreckan, Supernova and Ardbeg Ten Years Old.