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I recently read a new study published in Vine and Wine Open Access Journal . Here's the URL: https://oeno-one.eu/article/view/909/4304 The authors studied the transfer of oxygen through oak and between oak staves in a barrel. They found that whether the oak is wet or dry, there is no--or nearly no--oxygen transfer across the oak . Here is a quote, " "At the end of the measurement period, the dissolved oxygen level is lower than 0.5 mg.L-1. We can consider that oxygen transfer through imbibed oak wood is seriously limited because no oxygen transgresses through this porous material after 45 days." The study goes on to claim that oxygen passes through to the liquid from desorption (the oxygen which is already in the wood itself, but not from the outside of the barrel, leaches in) and oxygen passes between the staves--particularly where the staves are contacting with less pressure (nearer the bilge). Desorption accounts for a previously observed spike in oxygen in the first weeks of aging. I was pretty surprised by this study as I've always heard that the oak itself is permeable to oxygen. Instead, it seems like it's the barrel construction more than the wood which impacts oxygenation. This is a french study, so they used french oak--but I kind of doubt american oak would be substantially different. This study looks pretty legit to me. I read through their methods and I was fairly convinced--though I'm no scientist. I was curious if anyone else found this study convincing. It made me wonder about the claims of barrel alternatives like the "squarrel." If this study is correct, some kind of stave gap would be necessary if you are seeking oxygenation of your spirit.