Whiskey fungus is a real-life Lovecraftian nightmare, only drunker

"Whiskey Fungus" sounds like a great name for the absolute worst jam band I can imagine. But apparently it's a real thing that plagues the counties surrounding the Jack Daniels distillery. From The New York Times:

The ethanol-fueled fungus known as whiskey fungus has thrived for centuries around distilleries and bakeries. It's been the source of complaints from residents who live near Kentucky bourbon distilleries, Canadian whiskey makers and Caribbean rum manufacturers.


For months, some residents have complained that a sooty, dark crust has blanketed homes, cars, road signs, bird feeders, patio furniture and trees as the fungus has spread uncontrollably, fed by alcohol vapors wafting from charred oak barrels of aging Jack Daniel's whiskey.


The fungus that thrives off the lost alcohol has been noted at least since the 1870s, when Antonin Baudoin, the director of the French Distillers' Association, observed a "plague of soot" blackening the walls of distilleries in Cognac, France.

While there's very little research into the specific human health effects of whiskey fungus, the alcohol is known to make it more hardy and resistant to temperature changes. Naturally, the neighbors affected by these drunken eukaryotic organisms are none too pleased — and naturally, the Jack Daniels has very little interest in addressing their concerns, beyond telling them to buy some air filters or power wash the siding on their homes. It's all about the externalities, baby!

Whiskey Fungus Fed by Jack Daniel's Encrusts a Tennessee Town [Michael Levenson / New York Times]

Full disclosure: I also write for Wirecutter, which is owned by the New York Times Company, which also publishes the New York Times.