Jonathan Blitz, co-owner of Mystic Farm & Distillery, says that the company hopes to launch five barrels into space in January of 2024 with the intent of making 1,500 bottles.
What do Elon Musk and a beloved North Carolina bourbon brand have in common? A vision for an entrepreneurial space age, it turns out, in which commercial products are made into luxury goods for the ultra-rich by virtue of the new heights they reach.
On Friday, Mystic Farm & Distillery announced that it has entered the space race with Mystic Galactic, a bourbon whiskey aged for one year in space. Over the phone with the INDY, Jonathan Blitz, co-owner of Mystic, says that the distillery hopes to launch five barrels into space in January of 2024 with the intent of making 1,500 750 ml bottles and initially selling two-thirds of them.
He adds that the company has a plethora of viable rocket builder vendors—including SpaceX, Rocketlab, Inversion Space, Firefly—that they can potentially work with for a mission.
But first: Over the next few weeks, Mystic plans to begin pre-selling the 1,000 future bottles for a $75,000 purchase deposit. Buyers of the rare bourbon will receive a non-fungible token (NFT) and purchase deposits will be held in an “FDIC-insured account until the bourbon returns to Earth for bottling,” according to the press release.
Blitz says that the idea has been years in the making.
“Ever since I was a kid, and my business partner was a kid, we’ve been fascinated with space and spaceflight,” Blitz says. “And really since I was a kid in the ’80s, everybody’s been talking about, ‘Oh, we’re gonna manufacture in space.’ But there has never been a commercial product manufactured in space—and this will be the first one.”
The mission control center will be based on NC State’s campus.
For the price tag, purchasers will have access to perks that sound like Glass Onion plot points, including an app that tracks mission data and admission to “two ultra-luxury events featuring music and world-class food and beverages,” according to the press release. The barrels will be carefully re-coopered by the West Virginia Great Barrel Co. with special techniques for the conditions of reentry, making them potentially available by 2025.
Reentry, according to Blitz, is the most delicate part of this unprecedented process.
“The biggest issue is bringing that bourbon back through the atmosphere,” he says. “The vehicles have to have sufficient heat shielding to come back because you come back at about 26,000 miles an hour.”
But it’s not just the barrels that require a safe rocket: The rocket also requires safe barrels, Blitz says, and he and his collaborators are working on special barrels that will prevent interior sloshing as the bourbon ages.
“If that bourbon starts sloshing around on the way back through the atmosphere it can destabilize the spacecraft and cause it to crash,” he says.
And while the hype around the NFT market has—likely for the better—essentially evaporated, Blitz says that this is a unique situation that requires a mark of authenticity. To wit, Mystic is requiring that the bourbon be picked up in-person in North Carolina, once it becomes available.
So, maybe you’ve read this far, have recently won the lottery, have decided to purchase one of the 750 ML bottles, and have just one remaining question: Will this $75,000 bourbon taste good, following its year in space?
No one knows: “There’s only one way to find out,” the website states. “We’re as excited as you are to taste it.” But taste is also not entirely the point: Alongside their bottle, purchasers will also receive a 50-ml sample of the galactic bourbon so that they won’t have to break the seal on their rare bottle.
“We’re redefining what it means to make a rare spirit,” Blitz wrote in the press release. “Only about 1,300 people on the planet will ever have the opportunity to taste and own this piece of whiskey history. It’s the height of luxury and exclusivity.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that the bottles will be available at the earliest in 2028. The bottles should be available by 2025.
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