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You can sue over whiskey fungus, or Baudoinia, if you live near a distillery and have been injured from ethanol vapors. The same applies to other ethanol off-gassing alcohol distilleries, such as scotch, brandy, and rum.
Only within the last decade has a connection been made between the black film growing in and around distillery towns and the alcohol fumes manufacturers make, reports Vice. Now, citizens are fighting back with lawsuits seeking compensation from the companies for air pollution.
What Is Baudoinia?
Baudoinia is a fungus named for Anton Baudoin, who first studied the ethanol vapors released by liquor as it ages in 1872. James Scott, a mycologist from the University of Toronto, published a paper about the phenomenon in 2007, naming the fungus and pinning the problem on whiskey distilleries.
In 2011, Wired wrote about the whiskey fungus, bringing Baudoinia to the attention of Kentucky citizens living in distillery towns. "Before the articles came out," Joe Billy, a resident of Shively, Kentucky, told reporters, "I blamed it on the community garden. No one had any idea."
Billy and other Shively residents soon filed a class action lawsuit against three major local distilleries claiming negligence. The town is reportedly covered in a black film that is extremely difficult to remove and reappears only months after being cleaned.
More Lawsuits Followed
After people in Shively got wise to whiskey fungus and filed suit, they were contacted by people in nearby towns, like Frankfort, Kentucky. Frankfort citizens sued their local distillery, Jim Beam. Both Shively and Frankfort are within one mile of distilleries and are reportedly covered in the whiskey fungus, which distillers poetically call "the angel's share."
The Angel's Share
The alcohol vapors that evaporate into the air when whiskey is aging are called the angel's share by distillers because they supposedly float to heaven. But the people of Shively and Frankfort are pretty sure that they have been the recipients of this share and that this accounts for the poor air quality in their towns.
If you live in or near a distillery town and suspect that Baudoinia is polluting your air, talk to a lawyer. Counsel can assess your case, let you know if you have any claims, and advise on next steps. It costs nothing to consult.