Commission holds hearing in Shoreham on WhistlePig Act 250 permit

SHOREHAM — The District 9 Environmental Commission on Friday, March 22, began receiving testimony on WhistlePig’s proposed rye whiskey distillery that would be located off Quiet Valley Road in Shoreham. The hearing is part of the process of getting an Act 250 permit.
As the Addison Independent went to press on Friday, commission members hoped to get through all the testimony in one day. At least 40 people came to the hearing at the Shoreham firehouse; it featured testimony from witnesses supporting and opposing WhistlePig’s plans that include a distillery and storage facilities for barrels of whiskey that would be made from rye grown at the farm as well brought in from off-site.
Friday morning’s testimony keyed on the amount of product the distillery would produce, as well as the potential for a black mold known as Baudoinia compniacensis to be a byproduct of the whiskey aging process. Baudonia has been associated with the ethanol that escapes the oak barrels during the evaporation that occurs in barrels as the whiskey ages.
Witnesses testifying on behalf of WhistlePig founder Raj Bhatka argued that Baudoinia is not likely to be a factor given the amount of whiskey to be aged on-site — roughly 6,000 barrels. They argued that Baudoinia is more commonly associated with much larger operations, those that store in excess of 100,000 barrels of whiskey.
Neighbor George Gross, an opponent of the project, contended that the topography of the land, such as the preponderance or ridges, could hold the ethanol in the area and therefore stimulate the growth and spread of the Baudionia. He and Barbara Wilson own and operate the nearby Solar Haven Farm LLC at 977 Bates Road. The farm grows organic berries and fruit.
The Addison Independent will update this report in its Thursday, March 28 issue.

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