Not So Neat: Whiskey Distilleries Spread Fungus

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Bourbon casks at Laphroaig, by user John Allan, licensed by Creative Commons

The citizens of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding area have recently sued the local Whiskey distilleries because of a “black gunk” that was found over the roofs of their houses and cars.  As a result, property damage and negligence lawsuits have been filed against factories along the “Bourbon Trail.”  The main cause of the sooty germination is a naturally occurring fungus that latches onto ethanol, which many distilleries continue to emit.  Though monetary damages have not been specified many are asking the companies to reevaluate their environmental policies.

The fact remains that whiskey is a large part of the economic structure of these smaller industrial cities.  The lawyers for the plaintiffs’ side argue that the liquor companies will not see a dip in revenue if they simply stop massive ethanol emissions.  The flip-side of this lawsuit is that the fungus is not under their control. While the germination known as Baudoinia is natural, the word “fungus,” is bound to come with a negative impact.

At what cost do we sacrifice not only our own well-being but the environment as well for the sake of an economic pull?  Perhaps it is a stretch to take whiskey out of stores because at the end of the day people will want it to remain on the shelves.  However, alternative methods of off-putting gas should definitely be mandated at these distilleries.  It would be a shame if the relationship between the cities’ population and the whiskey distilleries was left on the rocks.