Whiskey: from Angels to Fungus

It is difficult to imagine that your favorite whiskey is the culprit of a black fungus that coats the homes, cars, stop signs, even trees of neighborhoods from Kentucky to the Virgin Islands to Scotland. The fungus – Baudoinia compniacensis, is reemerging, not just in the neighborhoods it has engulfed, but in the courtroom where attempts have been made for over a decade to make the corporations involved clean up their mess.

The industry has tried to romanticize their pollution with terms such as “angel’s share-” suggesting that the ethanol vapors lost during the distilling process reach the heavens. But in fact, research has proven that the ethanol vapors actually filter out, traveling up to a mile from the distillery and when combined with even a hint of moisture, turns into a dark black fungus. Homeowners have incurred great expense trying to keep the fungus at bay in order to salvage their property values. And up until now, mega corporations such as Diego, and even our own Brown Forman Corporation and Heaven Hill Distilleries have refused to take responsibility for cleaning up their mess.

Court cases have been filed over the years, including one in Scotland in 2009 and here in Kentucky with the Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc, a case that went all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, before being over turned. While these mega corporations have kept homeowners and their problems out of sight for years, there is hope for plaintiffs world wide as these cases are receiving new attention.

After 6 years, we now have a breakthrough in our case in Scotland on behalf of Mr. and Mrs Chalmers’ nuisance suit to be granted a trial. And new attention is being brought upon this problem in such articles as Anne Marshall’s October 30th article, appropriately titled “The Dark Side of Angel’s Share.”

While the words of Mark Twain ring true “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough,” it is past time for the good people whose homes and lives are affected by whiskey fungus to have their day in court and McMurry & Associates will be there to support them.