Christy Long, a small business owner in Lincoln County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States, has filed a lawsuit against whiskey giant Jack Daniels. She has spent thousands of euros on cleaning costs for her event site. According to her, this is the fault of the big neighbor, Jack Daniels.
Black mold grows in the area around Jack Daniels factories and warehouses. Houses, plants, playgrounds, traffic lights: everything is covered in dirt, as seen in these photos:
This mushroom is known as the whiskey mushroom, officially known as Baudoinia compniacensis. This happens not only at Jack Daniel's in Tennessee, but also at distilleries of all types of spirits. In various places in America and Asia, but also in the Cognac region of France, for example.
“A very unique mushroom”
“This is a very unique fungus that lives on ethanol as a breeding ground,” says fungi expert Jos Houbraken of the Vesterdijk Institute. “Ethanol makes these fungi resistant to drought and high temperatures and can grow on all types of materials.”
Ethanol is the most well-known form of alcohol. In distilleries, as well as in warehouses where whiskey is matured for years in breathable casks, tiny ethanol molecules end up in the environment.
Jack Daniels warehouse is blocked
For example, on the roofs and walls of houses, as can be seen in the pictures. Since other fungi do less well in those conditions, whiskey mushrooms can do their work undisturbed. “It has few natural enemies,” Houbraken says.
So businessman Christy Long tries to prevent the construction of a new Jack Daniels warehouse. Successfully: The judge ruled that construction must be stopped at least temporarily because the permit had not yet been issued.
Long also hopes to convince a judge to order Jack Daniels to close the six existing warehouses. They had recently been using it, after which Long started suffering from fungus. Jack Daniels said in response that it would wait for ongoing lawsuits and “will always follow applicable regulations.”
Area residents, whose homes were also covered in the substance, are demanding that the company use better air filters. This would prevent ethanol from reaching the environment and allow Jack Daniels to continue making whiskey.
“In any case, the only solution is to reduce ethanol emissions,” Houbraken says. “You can spend thousands of euros on cleaning, but if the fertile ground is not removed, the mold will come back within a few months. You can compare it a bit to the mold in your bathroom.”
There is one advantage for residents: whiskey mold does not harm public health.
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