James Gilpin, like millions of others around the world, suffers from type 1 diabetes. And since diabetic urine, as a side effect of the ailment, is richer is sugar than most people’s urine. And two main things you need in the production of alcohol are water and sugar. So if you can get a good blend of both in one shot, why not use it? I mean other than the fact that it’s piss?
How did you approach the diabetic patients and ask them for their urine? How did they react to your request?
I began by working with people that I know personally so my grandmother was the first candidate to sign up for the trials. I went through lots of my process with her and worked out where people were likely to feel uncomfortable. This helped to avoid lots of awkward moments. (I should say that not all my collaborators were diabetic some just had dilapidated endochrine systems due to old age.) I then heard a story about a pharmaceutical factory based in a community of elderly people and they would send representatives door to door exchanging cushions and soft toys for tubs of urine. The factory would then take the urine and process it to remove all of the chemicals that they had originally been selling their customers on the shelves of pharmacies. I took this model and adapted it for my own purpose. The only problem was that people then mistook me for an innovation designer and the project would be misunderstood. I am of course not suggesting that this process should be in anyway commercial although the idea of old peoples homes with distilleries in the garden in a funny one.
Even though the whiskey probably doesn’t taste like piss, it’s probably not the best whiskey either since James Gilpin is more of an artist than an experienced distiller, but it’s an interesting idea.
Read more about the process of turning diabetic piss into whiskey here. Thanks to Mo for the link.