Upcycling Biological Waste Into Whiskey
A London designer has created a liquor by carefully distilling the urine of diabetics.
London designer James Gilpin may have raised the eyebrows of many medical experts and whiskey lovers with his new project, “Gilpin Family Whisky.” The concept of the project is to utilize sugar-heavy urine excreted by diabetic patients for fermenting into high-end single malt whiskey. Gilpin, who is himself a type 1 diabetic, says that his project’s objective is to start a dialogue with health care professionals about the everyday problems caused by diabetes, and to consider the possibilities of using abundant biological waste products in new ways.
In an interview, he describes the process:
The urine is cleaned using the same techniques that we use for purifying our mains water stock. This process itself shares much of the distillery process. The thing that made life easier is that the sugar molecules are large and will form crystals which can then be removed and purified separately.
This sugar is added to the mash stock and used to accelerate the fermentation process. This is sort of a bit of a cheat as traditionally the sugars would be made form the starches in the mash. During the brewing process I make a clear alcohol sprit. This is again not the traditional method for making whisky but I adopted a commercial technique for cheap whisky and used whisky blends which I added to the sprite to give color, taste and viscosity.