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Cost to Ship Full Barrels? Other newbie questions included...


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Pardon my extreme ignorance, I am drinking from a fire hose trying to learn the basics here...

Part of our hypothetical business model is to purchase full barrels of distillate for blending and aging on site at our facility. 

We were told by a distillate supplier that people either ship 53 gallon barrels loose or palletized. 

That would be approximately 80 loose barrels per truck load, or 48 barrels per truck load if palletized on 51x53 oversized pallets. 

So here are my newbie questions:

How much weight is 80 loose barrels?

How much weight is 48 barrels on 51 x 53 pallets?

Why would one palletize vs. not? (My assumption is that palletized would make for easier unloading and stacking...but I simply don't know)


I ask all of these because I'm trying to input figures into my COGS calculation and would REALLY appreciate some insight or resources.

Oh, forgot to mention, the supplier of distillate doesn't arrange shipping. That's going to be our responsibility which is why I'm asking. They are 800 miles away, all within the continental United States.

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I'll let you calculate it but give you the tools: https://www.ttb.gov/foia/Gauging_Manual_Tables/Table_5.pdf

then you can google what is the weight of an empty 53 gallon oak barrel. Most likely the shipping company would want them palletized. 

That's the easy part but I would suggest another alternative: if the distillate supplier is not aging at all, then why not ask them to ship the high-proof distillate in 275 or 330 gallon totes and you buy whatever barrel you want separately? Then you just pump into the barrel from the totes, that way you have control over your barrel source, barrel proof, shipping may be cheaper though you will have to buy totes but you can re-sell, re-purpose or even ship back.


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“According to an article in a 1931 railway trade magazine, three days were required to unload a boxcar containing 13,000 cases of unpalletized canned goods. When the same amount of goods was loaded into the boxcar on pallets or skids, the identical task took only four hours.” 

Pallets were the biggest efficiency gain in the 20th century, even more so than computers. 


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There was a period when we used to call in a freight truck to move full barrels to our other facility for maturation. I generally estimate a full 53 gallon barrel to weigh around 500 lbs. (+/- 15 lbs.). I think we were able to fit 61-63 barrels on a standard truck without palletizing. I don't think there is a big downside with storing your whiskey on pallets, as long as you store them in a manner that promotes reasonable airflow around them. 

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  • 4 months later...

FinishedRye - talk to some freight forwarders and get shipping quotes/estimates. shop around as prices will vary considerably.

It may be beneficial for you to buy bulk spirits in totes or larger and ship barrels separately.  An empty 53gal weighs 110#.  Some will stack 8, most will stack 4 to a pallet. Filled barrel should be #500+ as mentioned previously.

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