Designer Turns Gran’s Urine Into Whisky


A British designer is turning the urine of diabetic people into whisky. It’s meant more to provoke discussion than to be a commercially viable project.

James Gilpin suffers from type 1 diabetes, the variant in which the pancreas produces no insulin at all, making it difficult for the body to regulate glucose levels. In older patients in particular, that can lead to producing urine with high sugar levels, and there are even some cases where this can lead to problems with toilets becoming bountiful breeding ground for mold.

Gilpin heard what is likely an urban myth about a drug manufacturer setting up a factory in the middle of a community of elderly people and exchanging goods for urine, which it then harvested for chemicals to use in drugs.

He decided to make this concept a reality, collecting urine from his diabetic grandmother and that of other elderly sufferers — with permission of course. He then purified the liquid in a lab before removing crystals formed by sugar materials.

Gilpin used a simplified, and arguably inauthentic version of the whiskey distillation process. He used the extracted sugars to make a clear alcohol spirit and then added whisky blends, in effect making a whisky flavored liquor.


He’ll now be displaying the results and running tasting sessions at several art fairs. Those who don’t fancy a tipple can instead watch short films about both the urine whisky production and the effects of diabetes.

As part of the exhibition, Gilpin will ask “Is it plausible┬áto suggest that we start utilizing our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance?”

(Image credit: James Gilpin. HT: Wired)

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