Jack Daniel’s Hit With Lawsuit Over Whiskey Fungus From “Angel’s Share”

The spread of the fungus has become a big problem in Tennessee's Lincoln County

Whiskey fungus grows on a road sign in Kentucky near a distillery.
Some Tennessee residents believe whiskey fungus is a big problem.
Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty

A woman, who claims whiskey fungus generated by the “angel’s share” that evaporates from expressions resting in Jack Daniel’s barrelhouses has created hellish conditions at her Tennessee wedding venue, has filed a lawsuit against the spirits brand.

Jack Daniel’s is currently using six barrelhouses in Lincoln County to age whiskey and was in the process of building a seventh, but the distillery was ordered to stop after a judge ruled that construction had not been properly approved and rescinded the building permit. The order came after venue owner Christi Long sued Lincoln County because the barrelhouses near her property lacked the proper permits, according to The New York Times.

“In middle Tennessee and central Kentucky, if you go on a distillery tour, they proudly reference the angel’s share,” Long’s lawyer Jason Holleman told the Lexington Herald Leader. “But the angel’s share results in the devil’s fungus.”

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The dark fungus, which is akin to chimney soot and can survive severe heat and cold, has no known health effects but leaves neighboring buildings dirty and sticky. According to Long, power-washing her property with bleach to get rid of the fungus costs her thousands of dollars a year, and her area of Lincoln County will “be black as coal” unless Jack Daniel’s installs air filters in its barrelhouses.

“If you take your fingernail and run it down our tree branch, it will just coat the tip of your finger,” said Long’s husband Patrick. “It’s just disgusting.”

Jack Daniel’s contends that the fungus can simply be washed off and that air filters could hurt the flavor that the whiskey acquires during the aging process. Distillery general manager Melvin Keebler also said the company “complies with all local, state and federal regulations regarding the design, construction and permitting of our barrelhouses” and that Jack Daniel’s is “committed to protecting the environment and the safety and health of our employees and neighbors.”

While the fungus may not be a health concern or cause zombies, it’s certainly going to be casting a black cloud over Lincoln County as long as the barrelhouses are in operation.

“The fungus is pretty destructive, and the only way to stop it is to turn off its alcohol supply,” University of Toronto public health professor James A. Scott told The Times. “It wrecks patio furniture, house siding, almost any outdoor surface. I’ve seen trees choked to death by it. It is a small mercy that it does not also appear to have a negative impact on human health.”


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