Louisville asks liquor warehouse to control vapors

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A worldwide liquor conglomerate has been ordered by Louisville officials to cut down on vapors coming from warehouses where it stores bourbon because residents are complaining about odors and a black fungus accumulating on houses.

The action by the city's Air Pollution Control District arrives as several makers of Kentucky's signature drink are facing lawsuits blaming their bourbon barrel storage warehouses for emitting ethanol vapors that promote the growth of a sooty black fungus on nearby properties in Louisville and Frankfort.

The black fungus does not present any health problems, said Thomas Nord, an air district spokesman.

The air district says London-based Diageo could face steep fines if it doesn't control the vapors at its bourbon warehouses in southern Louisville.

Kentucky's bourbon warehouses, filled with wood bourbon barrels stacked to the rafters, can be seen nestled into the rolling landscapes of the state's bourbon country, where they have sat for generations. Distillers have long called the escaping vapors the "angel's share" of the bourbon.

But warehouses found closer to residential areas have run afoul of some neighbors, who say they have wondered for years where the mysterious black soot came from.

"I didn't have no inkling where that stuff was coming from," said Chester Holloway, who lives across the street from the Diageo bourbon warehouses in south Louisville. He said he has seen more of the moldy substance in the last five years as it gathers on his gutters, exterior walls and the awnings in front of his red brick home.

"It looks awful," Holloway said Wednesday.

Diageo said in a statement that it is taking the allegations very seriously and they are reviewing the complaints. Diageo and other bourbon makers released a joint statement after bourbon fungus lawsuits were filed over the summer.

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