Photo: Laurentia Genske
The whisky world has been chattering like mad about designer and researcher James Gilpin's student project -- showcased at London's Royal College of Art's Show 2010, Design Interactions -- which turns the sugar-rich urine of diabetics into a high-end single malt whisky.
The inspiration for Gilpin Family Whisky came from his own life as a type 1 diabetic. His type 2 diabetic grandmother was his first candidate. His project states, "Old people's urine becomes an exportable whisky of high economic value." Large amounts of sugar are excreted on a daily basis by type 2 diabetic patients, especially among older people, and Gilpin thinks we should consider using that sugar creatively.
Gilpin cleans the urine using water purification techniques, separating out the sugar. This sugar is added to a cooked grain mixture where it accelerates the fermentation process. (Yeast eats sugar, and alcohol is the byproduct.) He distills a clear whisky, then adds other whisky blends for color and taste. During the design show, he had whiskey available for tasting.
Don't worry, this isn't a commercial venture -- it's strictly an exhibit intended to spark debate and serve as an educational tool. Gilpin's next showing is September 23 to 26 at a London show called 100% materials and at the AND (Abandon Normal Devices) festival in Manchester October 1 to 7.