What Is the Difference Between Wine Barrels and Whiskey Barrels?

By Talia Kennedy

Wood barrels store large quantities of wine and whiskey for long period of time. The main difference between wine barrels and whiskey barrels is the material used to make them.

A barrel's material determines whether it stores wine or whiskey.

Whiskey Barrels

Whiskey barrels are usually made of oak because of the way in which oak and whiskey interact. Because whiskey takes years to mature, the oak enhances its flavor. Oak adds fruity, spicy and smoky aromas to the whiskey over time.

Wine Barrels

Wine barrels may be made with several types of wood, including oak. Redwood, acacia and chestnut are other choices. Winemakers' opinions on the best wood vary widely.


Winemakers and whiskey distillers consider a wood's texture, age and thickness when choosing barrels. A barrel typically holds 60 gallons of wine or whiskey and could be used for decades. Most winemakers ultimately stick with the material that they think works best with their wine. Even among those who prefer oak, there are differing opinions on whether French oak, American oak or other types of oak are the best.