barrel image by Andrew Kazmierski from

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.

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.

About the Author

Talia Kennedy

Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and "The Sacramento Bee," among others. Kennedy has a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.