Why some Mile-Ex residents oppose a whisky micro-distillery in their neighbourhood

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Why some Mile-Ex residents oppose a whisky micro-distillery in their neighbourhood
WATCH: Residents in the borough of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie are speaking out against plans to build a distillery in the area. They worry about potential environmental risks, and also believe the area is too densely populated for such a project. Global's Phil Carpenter reports – May 18, 2023

Some people who live in the Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie borough are mobilizing to stop plans for a whisky micro-distillery in the area.

“There are a lot of very serious concerns in terms of the potential arrival of this distillery right in the middle of our neighbourhood,” said resident Myriam Valcin.

It’s supposed to be constructed on the ground floor of an industrial building at 6665  Jeanne-Mance Street, just south of Saint-Zotique.

“We have new families,” Valcin stressed. “There’ve been so many great efforts from the city to make it a more pleasant, green milieu de vie.”

On Wednesday night, the residents met to discuss their concerns including the risk of whisky fungus.

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“It’s where all the buildings around and even the trees and everything that has a slightly porous surface simply goes black,” noted Sasha Dyck, another resident.

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When the liquor is produced some evaporates, and when it mixes with moisture in the air, the fungus is formed.

“It’s basically a species of fungus that grows with just a teeny, teeny tiny bit of ethanol,” Dr. Julia Maria de Medeiros Dantas, a chemical engineer and researcher at McGill University, explained, adding that there are no known health risks.

There have been complaints in areas with large distilleries like Kentucky, Tennessee, as well as Valleyfield south of Montreal where residents blame a local plant for the black coating on walls, which residents say can cost thousands of dollars to clean.

But Matt McMillan, the person planning the distillery on rue Jeanne-Mance, argues that whisky fungus is usually found near large distilleries.

In a statement he wrote, “My proposed project we will be making five barrels a week. We will store 200 or so on site and will have proper ventilation.”

Dantas agrees the risk is higher with larger producers.

“(Ones) producing hundreds of thousands of litres per month of whisky,” she pointed out, “then this concentration of ethanol is going to be much higher than just a micro-distillery.”

She admits, however, that even with micro-distilleries, black fungus could appear over time.

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Borough officials say the they’ve assessed the possible impact on the environment but don’t foresee any problems.

Residents, though, just don’t want a new industry disrupting their neighbourhood.

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