Author Topic: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus  (Read 1199 times)

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Offline rickl

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The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« on: June 01, 2011, 06:13:20 PM »
The air outside a distillery warehouse smells like witch hazel and spices, with notes of candied fruit and vanilla—warm and tangy- mellow. It’s the aroma of fresh cookies cooling in the kitchen while a fancy cocktail party gets out of hand in the living room.

James Scott encountered that scent for the first time a decade ago in a town called Lakeshore, Ontario. Just across the river from Detroit, Lakeshore is where barrels of Canadian Club whiskey age in blocky, windowless warehouses. Scott, who had recently completed his PhD in mycology at the University of Toronto, had launched a business called Sporometrics. Run out of his apartment, it was a sort of consulting detective agency for companies that needed help dealing with weird fungal infestations. The first call he got after putting up his website was from a director of research at Hiram Walker Distillery named David Doyle.

Doyle had a problem. In the neighborhood surrounding his Lakeshore warehouses, homeowners were complaining about a mysterious black mold coating their houses. And the residents, following their noses, blamed the whiskey. Doyle wanted to know what the mold was and whether it was the company’s fault. Scott headed up to Lakeshore to take a look.

When he arrived at the warehouse, the first thing he noticed (after “the beautiful, sweet, mellow smell of aging Canadian whiskey,” he says) was the black stuff. It was everywhere—on the walls of buildings, on chain-link fences, on metal street signs, as if a battalion of Dickensian chimney sweeps had careened through town. “In the back of the property, there was an old stainless steel fermenter tank,” Scott says. “It was lying on its side, and it had this fungus growing all over it. Stainless steel!” The whole point of stainless steel is that things don’t grow on it.

Standing at a black-stained fence, Doyle explained that the distillery had been trying to solve the mystery for more than a decade. Mycologists at the University of Windsor were stumped. A team from the Scotch Whisky Association’s Research Institute had taken samples and concluded it was just a thick layer of normal environmental fungi: Aspergillus, Exophiala, stuff like that. Ubiquitous and—maybe most important—in no way the distillery’s fault.

Scott shook his head. “David,” he said, “that’s not what it is. It’s something completely different.”

Read the whole thing.  It's a fascinating article about fungus.  Yes, really.

/hat tip Instapundit
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Online Pandora

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Re: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 07:26:15 PM »
Yes, really; it is.

"Extinct species" my azz, methinks.
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Re: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 07:45:38 PM »

Canadian Club, one of my top ten all time favorite whiskeys.

Offline Libertas

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Re: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 07:48:31 PM »
Fungus and insects, inheritors of the post-apocalyptic earth.

Don't worry, knock back a drink.

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Online IronDioPriest

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Re: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2011, 08:35:20 AM »
That is really cool - well written also. In addition to the tutorial on fungus, I appreciated the condensed history of distilling spirits. I had no clue, for instance, that further distilling wine produced brandy, and that further distilling beer produced whiskey, let alone that vodka is the product of distilling any old thing multiple times. All of it, fascinating stuff.
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Offline AmericanPatriot

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Re: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2011, 09:17:37 AM »
In my dotage, I drink very little anymore.
But prefer Kentucky Bourbon to Canadian Whiskey when I do