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‘Concern for the Quality of Our Lives’: Residents Near Jack Daniel’s Distillery Furious Over ‘Whiskey Fungus’

Gentleman Jack by Jack Daniels

A bottle of Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack whiskey is seen Feb. 16 in the store window in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via AP)

Residents of Lincoln County, Tennessee, are becoming more and more upset with the Jack Daniel’s distillery due to ethanol emissions in the air, which they believe to be causing “whiskey fungus,” or black fungus.

This all began back in 2018 when Jack Daniel’s started building six of new barrel houses in the area, with plans to build another 14.

The fungus and ethanol in the air come from what’s known as the “angel’s share” which is when whiskey evaporates into the air and can linger in the air for up to a mile away. According to The Independent, this particular fungus was determined to be a direct result of the angel’s share in 2007.

Residents began noticing the mold around town, even talking about how the county had stopped cleaning road signs and instead began replacing them when once they were so overcome with the fungus that they couldn’t be read. In December, a public hearing was held on the issue, where residents of the town fought for a filtration system to be implemented at the distillery.

Patrick Long, a homeowner who lives near the six barrel houses, told the Independent that the issue has caused him to spend about $10,000 annually on power-washing his home to remove the fungus.

Residents are asking for the installation of an air filtration system to block the emissions of ethanol and limit the fungus growing in the county. They are also requesting an environmental impact study be conducted to learn more about the amount of ethanol coming from the barrel houses and how what health impacts it’s having.

Long, who is suing the county, first complained about the fungus in November.

“I’m extremely concerned. My wife has breathing problems. One of the neighbors got cancer,” Long said, according to Insider. “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.”

The neighbor Long referred to may have been Becky Benson Carroll, who said during the hearing she has stage four lung cancer that has reached her brain. She also said that her dog has “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” She believes both illnesses may be due to her proximity to the barrel houses.

“I think there is a concern for the quality of our lives,” Carroll said at the hearing, according to The Moore County News. “Unfortunately, I won’t get to see the results of all of this. I’m a strong, healthy person, and this should not have happened. I can’t prove it was from this ethanol, but somebody needs to prove that it is not. I’m in favor of the filtration system.”

In a statement to the Independent, a spokesperson for Jack Daniel’s said that “while we can’t comment on the specifics of the pending litigation, I can tell you that Jack Daniel’s complies with all local, state, and federal regulations regarding the design, construction and permitting of our barrel houses. We are dedicated to protecting the environment and the safety and health of our employees and neighbors.”

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Madison Kopta is an editor at Whiskey Raiders. As a Northern California native and mom of four, Madison spends much of her time enjoying the great outdoors with her family. From camping to keeping an eagle eye out for Bigfoot, you can find Madison in nature, enjoying a glass of whiskey with her husband.