Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Could unpopular sooty fungus at whisky distilleries play a beneficial role?

Post Thumbnail

Anyone who has ever visited a distillery will have noticed how its warehouse walls and beams, especially if they are very old, are coated with what looks like soot.

It is in fact a fungus called baudoinia (pronounced baw-dwan-ya) that has an addiction to alcohol that would put your heartiest tippler in the shade.

As the air in such cask-stacked warehouses is awash with alcohol vapour, better known as the angels’ share, baudoinia colonises not only the inner walls but also outside walls and will also settle on any trees or other buildings within hiccupping distance of the warehouses.

As many distilleries lie in relatively isolated locations, baudoinia is generally not too big a problem. However, with more and more whisky warehouses located in Scotland’s densely populated central belt near blending and bottling centres, baudoinia can roost on nearby houses, garages and even parked cars.

In fact, one major distiller is facing a court case brought by one Scots couple claiming damages for the effect baudoinia has had on their house, outbuildings and cars — and on the claimed resale value of their property.

Such a case is not without precedent. Some years ago, a group of residents in Louisville, Kentucky, raised a “class action” against a major US distiller over the effects of baudoinia on their neighbourhood. Quite apart from its sooty appearance, the fungus tends to be tacky and often needs considerable effort to dislodge it from various surfaces.

It surprises me that, so far, no one has produced a cure or at least a deterrent for baudoinia, or alternatively found a good use for it. If we can make penicillin from moulds on fruit, surely there might be a great new drug or other beneficial compound lurking in baudoinia.

Interestingly, a German distillery is testing a cask-coating membrane that will either eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, alcohol vapour emissions.

Whether it is effective, only time will tell. Another test involves fitting a small loudspeaker to each cask, causing it to vibrate and speeding the interaction between wood and spirit, supposedly enhancing flavour and speeding maturation.

I recall a similar idea in the 1950s, when ultrasonics were used to speed up whisky maturation. However, it wasn’t a success and the idea was shelved.

Already a subscriber? Sign in