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Jack Daniel’s: Building freeze due to black “whiskey fungus”.

Jack Daniel’s: Building freeze due to black “whiskey fungus”.

Mushrooms’ fondness for their closeness to spirits is no coincidence. It feeds on ethanol made from alcohol vapors. There are enough of them around Jack Daniel’s warehouse in Lincoln County in the quiet south of the United States.

The result is that the fungus multiplies explosively and later covers street signs, cars, trees and facades with a black crust. The New York Times reported that residents’ complaints had increased in recent months, and one resident sued the area.

An old companion to distilleries

The mushroom has been known for more than 150 years, as a “companion” in distilleries, but also in bakeries. It’s also not a specific problem for Jack Daniel’s. According to the American newspaper, there are also bourbon distilleries in neighboring Kentucky, Canadian whiskeys as well as Caribbean rum manufacturers. However, in the present case, the fungus is said to be multiplying completely uncontrollably.

Getty Images / iStockphoto / NordRoden

Part of the alcohol (ethanol) evaporates during storage in the barrel

Jack Daniel’s is located in neighboring Lincoln County, Moore County, in southern Tennessee. According to the American newspaper, the traditional American distillery, founded in 1866, operates six warehouses (“kegs”) there for its wooden barrels, in which it matures its whiskey, and is building a seventh. In addition, she applied to re-allocate a plot of land in the area so that she could set up more camps. Instead, there is now a court-ordered construction freeze.

A big taxpayer in an economically weak region

According to a report by The New York Times, the whiskey manufacturer from the small town of Lynchburg, about 120 kilometers south of Nashville, is arguing with authorities that it uses the revenue primarily for the public sector. Like many counties in the region, Moore County, with a population of just under 6,500, is relatively underdeveloped.

Donna Willis, who is in charge of warehouse logistics for the whiskey maker, calculated for the district administration that a total of 14 barrel storage facilities would generate $1 million (about €945,000) in property tax revenue annually. All in all, the small region had a budget of $15 million in fiscal 2022. The Jack Daniel’s brand is owned by the American liquor company Brown-Forman and is based in Louisville in the neighboring state of Kentucky. It is the best-selling whiskey brand in the United States.

Country property turning black

“But not all residents are happy with the expansion,” the New York Times wrote on Wednesday (local time). One of them, Christy Long, actually filed a lawsuit against the county, more precisely the building authority, in January.

The neighborhood because the woman says mission permits are missing for the new building, Camp Number Seven. According to the American newspaper, the building permit has been temporarily suspended. Long owns an old mansion nearby, the Manor at ShaeJo, built in 1900, which she rents out for weddings and other events.

Protect Monument with a high pressure cleaner

The BBC quoted Mrs. or her lawyer, Jason Holman, as saying that the fungus had already caused severe damage to the facade and roof of the old palace. According to the New York Times, the building had to be cleaned quarterly with a high-pressure cleaner and chlorine, but the fungus kept coming back.

Lawyer Holman said his client is asking the court to prevent Jack Daniel’s from operating warehouses near her 350-square-meter country house, otherwise the whiskey maker must equip its warehouses, one of which is less than 250 meters from Villa Long, with filtration. systems. He had long complained that this part of Lincoln County would “turn black as coal.”

The share of the angel and the devil’s mushroom from the barrel

Melvin Keibler, general manager at Jack Daniel’s, said in a statement that his company follows all county, state and state guidelines for the design, construction and operation of whiskey depots. We are committed to protecting the environment and employee safety and health. The manufacturer of the spirits also referred to a study that proved that black fungus does not pose a health risk. It also does not cause any damage to the building fabric.

Whiskey distillers call the part of the alcohol that evaporates from the barrels during the aging process “idyllic,” the “angels share” (“angels share”). This is explained to you every time, says lawyer Holman on the BBC. “Unfortunately, this also turns into a devil mushroom.”

The mysterious soot plague in cognac

James A. Scott, a botanist and mold expert at the University of Toronto, Canada, has been researching fungi for more than 20 years. In the absence of specific studies, nothing is known about potential health risks from fungi. However, fungus can cause property damage because it can attach to almost any surface. It is also very resistant, for example to high temperatures. The only way to get rid of him is to “cut off his alcohol supply”.

According to the New York Times, the mushroom has been known since at least the 1870s and is named after the then director of the French Distillation Society, Antonin Baudouin. He discovered it on the walls of cognac distilleries and described it as “the soot plague”.

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