Whiskey mold, a black-to-gray, crusty — or sometimes velvety — mycelium, has been reported near Kentucky bourbon distilleries, Canadian whiskey makers, and Caribbean rum manufacturers. The fungus can be a real problem in the South, as it can survive the hot southern summers thanks to its ability to withstand temperature changes and cling to almost any surface. And while Tennessee-based Jack Daniel’s complied with local, state, and federal mold control regulations, local woman Christi Long sued the company over mold fueled by barrelhouses — even as JD planned to open seven more warehouses. building in its rural home county to age whiskey, potentially generating up to $1 million in tax revenue.
The New York Times reports that whiskey mold has infected the copper roof of a circa-1900 mansion owned by Long. The exterior walls of the mansion have affected crusting on nearby magnolia trees and have also affected a rock garden and metal gate. Local resident Tracy Ferry also complained of mold growing in the family’s home and car.
So last week a judge ruled that Jack must get Daniel’s permits before they can use barrelhouses near Long’s mansion. Despite the company’s compliance with regulations, the impact of whiskey mold on local residents raises concerns about the expansion of the liquor industry. The growth of the distilling industry has generally led to more cases of whiskey mold affecting residential areas near distillers. Although compliant, the fungus can cause property damage and adhere to almost any surface.
Other distillers are certainly keeping an eye on the matter. Expansion in the distilling industry must be weighed against its effects on local residents and steps must be taken to reduce whiskey mold outbreaks or an entirely new genre of costly litigation could become a fixture in civil courts in years to come .