Whiskey fungus? Don’t worry, you won’t find it in your drink. But it is aerial, and a real problem for the residents of Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Ethanol vapors from nearby whiskey barrelhouses have spawned the black muck covering everything nearby: Homes, cars, street signs, tree bark and leaves.
The fungus, properly known as Baudoinia compniacensis, has been a problem for Lincoln County since 2018 when Jack Daniel’s began building barrelhouses in the area. There are six now, with plans to build 14 more, according to Insider.
Angry residents have both health and financial worries, such as declining property values.
“I’m extremely concerned. My wife has breathing problems,” said Patrick Long, a nearby resident. “One of the neighbors got cancer. It’s in the air. And you really, probably don’t want to be breathing that in. But nobody has done a test to determine if it’s actually poisonous.”
Long’s wife, Christi, runs an events venue next to the barrelhouses and is suing the county zoning office. She claims it improperly approved the building permits, according to BBC.
In the meantime, J.B. Cox, the Lincoln County Chancellor, issued a court order to stop construction after ruling the permit process was not completed.
Elizabeth Conway, a spokeswoman for the Brown-Forman Corporation that owns the Jack Daniel’s barrelhouses, gave a statement about the order.
“We respect the chancellor’s ruling and look forward to working with Lincoln County on updated permits,” Conway said. “The Jack Daniel Distillery will continue to comply with regulations and industry standards regarding the design, construction, and permitting of our barrelhouses in Lincoln Co.”
Tennessee residents complain Jack Daniels ‘whiskey fungus’ is polluting community https://t.co/4hih1HLZHv
— The Independent (@Independent) February 27, 2023
The Longs’ lawyer, Jason Holleman, said the ethanol vapors are known among whiskey companies as “the angels’ share.”
“If you go on one of these distillery tours they will tell you about the angels’ share that goes into the atmosphere,” Holleman said. “And unfortunately that also results in the devil’s fungus.”
Health concerns are not the Longs’ only concerns.
Patrick said it costs about $10,000 a year to pressure wash his house, which is done four times annually.
“If you have any decent nails on you and you rode it down the side of a tree or a property within a quarter of a mile to a half-mile of these barrel houses, your entire finger will be covered in black fungus,” he said.
“You can’t see the tree limbs anymore. Our house, we have to have it pressure-washed four times a year now.”
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