After a recent dinner conversation in Charleston, I realized that using staves to age alcohol had another distinct advantage over barrels. Depending on the size of barrel you are comparing a stave to, staves use roughly 4-20 times less wood than a barrel does to age a given amount of liquid. More specifically, a 53 gallon barrel uses 4x the wood as staves to achieve the same wood surface area to liquid volume ratio, and a smaller 1 liter barrel uses nearly 20 times as much wood as a stave for the same liquid volume. These figures do not even take into consideration the environmental cost of the iron hoops or the resources necessary to form a barrel. When you look at the total environmental cost of aging alcohol, barrels don't even begin to compare to staves, so if you are aging a given product for less than 3 months, why are you using barrels?