Whisky Fungus

Have you ever heard of whisky fungus? No?
Don't worry, it is not fungus that you will find growing inside your bottle collection.
Just don't live near your favorite distillery, that's all.

Article from the New York Times on march 1st, 2023

Turning the world black

Panic in Tennessee this March. The locals of Lincoln County are complaining about a dark fungus, consuming and covering everything that is outside. It looks like a lawsuit will follow, which will halt the building of a 7th barrelhouse for the Jack Daniel's distillery.
Because, yes, the 6 barrelhouses already in Lincoln County might be the very reason everything is covered in a black growth.

It is called Whisky Fungus, or even more official: Baudoinia Compniacensis. This is a fungi living of ethanol vapours.
Yes. We have found something actually living of alcohol.

The fungus simply loves ethanol vapours an might be the first fungus human being actually domesticated. By accident that is, because the fungus only is a real nuisance for us, instead of adding value.
It literally thrives close to distilleries, barrelhouses, dunnage warehouses and bakeries. Covering everything with a black layer of mould.

Black trees, bright green leaves

When visiting Scotland with some friends, I told them about these curious black trees that they might encounter close to distilleries. They did not believe me, but when visiting the Blair Athol distillery, and walking to their dunnage warehouse, there it was. A tree covered in whisky fungus, turning it as black as a schoolboard.
The fungus only lives of ethanol, so does not really 'eat' from the tree. It does not kill it. Immediately that is, because if the fungus really smothers the tree, it might suffocate it. This however, rarely happens. Neither is the fungus a danger to your health. The leaves on the tree, already slowly turning from green to yellow in early autumn, were in a sharp contrast to the black bark. I found it to be a beautiful scene. But then again, I'm not living close to 6 Jack Daniel's barrelhouses, and my patio furniture, house, car etc. are not covered in a black layer of fungus.