Thursday, July 26, 2007


Just one of the things which fascinated me during my research trip to Nelson County was the black stuff which clung to warehouses and fences and trees around the distilleries. It's called torula, and it is a yeast-like fungi that thrives on the fumes produced by the fermentation process. A lot of barns and fences far from any distilleries in the county are also painted black (where, in my neck of the woods in Kansas and Missouri, they would normally be white). It must be a cultural thing, a kind of nod to the county's heritage. This is just the kind of thing you find during a research trip but which might escape you during book research -- in fact, I found no reference to torula or this passion for black barns and fences in the WPA Guide to Kentucky or any of the other reference books I consulted.