Jack Daniel’s halts warehouse expansion
A barrel warehouse project at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Tennessee, US, has been put on hold after a local resident claimed ethanol emissions had damaged her property.
Christi Long, of Lincoln County, Tennessee, believes ethanol emissions – commonly known as the angel’s share – from the distillery’s barrel warehouses have harmed her business. Long operates a wedding and party venue close to the site of the warehouses.
Long filed a petition against Lincoln County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, claiming it had failed to enforce its Zoning Ordinance on the barrel warehouses, owned by Brown-Forman.
Long claims that Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman is polluting the air by storing whiskey in oak barrels next door to her business.
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery has finished construction of six barrel warehouses, with a seventh near completion. According to the lawsuit document, there has never been any inspections of the barrel warehouses to date.
Long called for a stop-work order to prevent Brown-Forman from further construction of barrel warehouses until all aspects of the county’s Zoning Ordinance are complied with.
The court said the recent building permit was issued based on construction documents and an amended site plan that had not been approved.
As such, the court has ruled that Lincoln County must issue a stop work order to Brown-Forman until approval is obtained from the Planning Commission.
Long’s lawyer, Jason Holleman, said: “We are pleased that the court found our request well taken and required the issuance of a stop work order for Jack Daniel’s barrel house construction until such time as proper approvals are obtained.
“We are hopeful that during this time, our concerns about the safety of the buildings and the impact on the surrounding neighbours will be adequately addressed.”
When asked if Long plans to sue Brown-Forman, Holleman said: “If the issues aren’t resolved through the review processes that the court order compelled, then I anticipate they will.”
Brown-Forman said in a statement: “The Jack Daniel’s Distillery complies with all local, state, and federal regulations regarding the design, construction, and permitting of our barrel houses. We are committed to protecting the environment and the safety and health of our employees and neighbours.”
Brown-Forman also insisted that the ruling was not about ‘whiskey fungus’ as other online news reports have stated.
The company said in a statement: “This naturally occurring microflora has been around as long or longer than whisky itself. It is found throughout the environment, near distilleries and in areas completely unrelated to aged whisky production.
“This slow-growing microflora has various food sources, including alcohol vapour. While some may not like the way it looks, based on the information available, we believe it is not harmful to individuals or their property.”
Jack Daniel’s is one of the world’s biggest-selling American whiskeys. It sold 13.5 million nine-litre cases in 2021, according to Brand Champions 2022 data.
In August 2019, Diageo disputed a couple’s claim that angel’s share from a whisky ageing facility in Scotland had damaged their property.