James Gilpin has Type 1 Diabetes — his pancreas doesn’t work, forcing him to take shots of insulin to process glucose from food. Gilpin got to thinking about elderly patients with diabetes, like his grandmother, who secrete tons of unprocessed medicine and sugar in their urine. A great idea dawned upon him — well, perhaps it’s a gross idea but we’ll leave that up to you — and he started the Gilpin Family Whisky project, a high end line of single malt whiskey made from the sugar-laden urine of people with diabetes. His grandmother was the first patient to recycle her pee into whiskey!
The project actually came as an idea to Gilpin after he heard a story — which probably isn’t true — about pharmaceutical workers who set up a lab next to a retirement home in order to extract unprocessed drugs from elderly patients’ urine for re-use in new products. Gilpin thought, why not use the water purification systems utilized in whiskey distilling to make use of the sugar in the same elderly patients’ pee? He told Wired in an interview that it is, “plausible to suggest that we start utilising our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance.”
Thankfully Gilpin Family Whisky is more of an art stunt than a new product line you’ll be seeing in your local liquor store. Gilpin will be exhibiting the line of whiskeys — each labeled with the name and home town of the patient who provided the goods — at 100% Materials, a London design event coming up this month. He’ll also be setting up a tasting session, in case you’re brave and interested. His project is meant to call attention to the world of biomedical technologies and how we can improve our medical care as well as the issues surrounding living with Type 1 Diabetes.