Professional Tree Services

Julian A. Morris B Sc, Dip Surv, Cert Pub Sect Man, Tech Cert Arb, PTI

March 2011 - Whisky you're the Devil

This was taken in Dumbarton near Milton. Although it just looks like the tree is silhouetted against the evening sky, there are a few golden leaves that show that the sun was on the tree rather than behind it. It is clear that the trunk and branches of the tree are really quite dark, close inspection showed some branches to be jet black.

The buildings in the background are whisky, bonds, containing an awful lot of whisky left to mature in barrels.

There is a long association between whisky making and blackening of trees. What most people in the business believe to be true is that substances (ethanol etc.) are given off by distillation

black tree

and that these provide an energy source for various fungal moulds (such as Aspergillus fumigatus and Aureobasidium pullulans) which grow on the surrounding trees. They also grow on surrounding buildings.


Or do they? When the local MSP for Bonnybridge took up the case for residents of blackened houses near a whisky bond there, surprisingly no link could be proven. In a similar complaint in Lothian the distillery cleaned the houses but denied any link. It was conveniently and diplomatically suggested that the damp atmosphere that suited the fungi also suited whisky maturation and that it was some sort of multiple coincidence that the two are found together at so many locations in Scotland and America.


There is probably minimal damage to the trees and the fungi are said to be harmless to healthy people.


An independent investigation was launched by the Whisky Research Foundation but I am unable to find the outcome or any information about that Foundation.


If anyone knows anything relevant, please pass on the information. J