A Jack Daniels building project is to be halted after a neighbour argued she was facing a plague of whiskey fungus caused by escaping alcohol vapours.
Christi Long, of Lincoln County, Tennessee, claimed her property was coated in the fungus, which appears as a black crust on surfaces.
It is a growing issue for people in the area, her lawyer told BBC News.
The fungus, which consumes ethanol fumes, grows on surfaces near bakeries and distilleries around the world.
Mrs Long, who runs an events venue next to several Jack Daniels warehouses, including one under construction, says the invading fungus has required her to spend thousands on power washing.
She is suing the local county zoning office, arguing it did not properly approve permits for the warehouses.
Some infuriated locals are now calling for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, which is owned by Louisville-based company Brown-Forman, to install air filters to combat the problem.
Jason Holleman, a lawyer representing Mrs Long, says whiskey companies often speak about the evaporation process – dubbed “the angels’ share” – without mentioning the resulting mould that comes with it.
“If you go on one of these distillery tours they will tell you about the angels’ share that goes into the atmosphere,” he says.
“And unfortunately that also results in the devil’s fungus.”
In a court order, Lincoln County Chancellor J.B. Cox instructed Lincoln County zoning officials to order construction to be halted after he ruled that the permitting process was never fully completed.
Mr Holleman said he anticipates asking the court to order Brown-Forman to stop using six recently-built warehouses, which are commonly known as barrelhouses, that are also near Mrs Long’s property.
Brown-Forman spokeswoman Elizabeth Conway told the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper: “We respect the chancellor’s ruling and look forward to working with Lincoln County on updated permits.
“The Jack Daniel Distillery will continue to comply with regulations and industry standards regarding the design, construction, and permitting of our barrelhouses in Lincoln Co.”
Brown-Forman did not respond to a BBC News request for further comment.
Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey was founded in Moore County, which neighbours Lincoln County, in 1866.
The fungus – named Baudoinia compniacensis – is named after the director of the French Distillers’ Association that discovered it growing near cognac distilleries in the 1870s.
It has led to complaints and lawsuits from Scotland to Canada and the Caribbean.
Federal agents in Tennessee used to look for the fungus as a sign that illegal alcohol – moonshine – was being made nearby, Mr Holleman says.
The whiskey industry in Tennessee is growing, along with residential development, leading to more conflicts between distillers and homeowners.
According to the Herald-Leader, residents in at least three other counties have fought distillery expansions, arguing that the fungus would harm property values.
Source – BBC News
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