The Alarming Kentucky Whiskey Fungus Problem

Grace Higgins | November 23rd, 2019

Residents all across Kentucky for generations have lived with black soot that caked their homes and vehicles, they all assumed it was just something that existed in Kentucky and lived their lives trying to deal with it. What they did not realize is this black soot is a fungus, which is entirely preventable, caused by the number of whiskey distilleries in their state.

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One of the town’s that sees this problem the most is Shively, Kentucky. And this is where you do see the downside of whiskey in Kentucky, in the low-income suburbs of Louisville, you can find more than five major distilleries in Shively. As a result, you also have the nastiest case of whiskey fungus ever recorded in America. If you drive down their streets, you will notice that just about everything you see is covered in an extremely ugly black fungus. Houses, cars, swing sets, street signs, and even trees are covered in the black stuff.

Some people attempt to clean it off every few months with an industrial pressure washer, but most residents quit trying to keep their outdoor possessions clean years ago. They feel it is an impossible task, and simply surrendered to the disgusting black fungus that constantly grows back.

And for decades they just thought it was a given for having the whiskey distilleries in their town, which were a much-needed case of job creation, keeping the town alive. So they didn’t make a fuss about it but little did they know, whiskey distilleries could prevent the fungus entirely. Sure there were complaints, but the local councilman just ignored them, fearing the loss of jobs if the distilleries packed up and left.

All this changed in 2007 when a major report was published by a leading mycologist researcher James Scott. He discovered that the fungus feeds off the ethanol vapors released by the liquor as it ages, so you can find this fungus by scotch, brandy and rum distilleries. The companies behind the distilleries though are adamant they are not the cause and will not do anything about it.

This has led to many lawsuits going against them from residents in Kentucky due to the extensive property damage the fungus is causing. So far these legal proceedings have not been resolved, something that is alarming because whiskey consumption is on the rise throughout America which means this problem is only going to get worse.

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