Aren’t All Barrels Made From American White Oak?

Aren’t All Barrels Made From American White Oak?

 Someone recently asked me, “Aren’t all barrels made from American white oak?” My answer was “No,” but the elaboration was probably a bit longer than he expected. Most of us know that barrels are made out of oak staves. White oak is a part of the genus Quercus from the family of Fagaceae. It is a fascinating wood in that it is water resistant (not water proof) and can be shaped into containers to hold liquids. While all wood has pores, white oak produces seals over those pores called tyloses that make it water resistant. (Red oak barrels, for instance, might work better for dry goods because the open pores in the wood would keep its contents dry and aerated.) Oak trees tend to grow tall and straight, which works well for coopers that need to cut long, clean...