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This has been in practise for many years at certain wineries.
Some very small / high end Cabernet Sauvignon producers in Napa Valley have fluted their barrels to give more surface area.
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With a larger barrel area..wouldn't the distillery also have to worry about an increased loss to 'angels share'?
Although an increase in the warehouse humidity may offset some of that loss...
Fluting the staves is an interesting way to increase the surface to volume ratio in a barrel ... However, it will add substantially to the cost of a barrel ... because the stave thickness before fluting will have to be the standard thickness plus the flute depth ... adding to the cost of the wood used. Also, the flutes have to be cut ... adding to the labor cost for making the barrel. On a large volume basis, probably not practical ... but on a small volume basis, it could definately add some worthwhile value ...and may be less expensive than using smaller volume barrels.
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I would think that the flutes or grooves or whatever wouldn't add much to the cost. I've also heard some mention of BT experimental barrels that use rough oak.
"Brownest of the brown liquors..so tempting. What's that? You want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a trial!" L. Hutz