There are two main types of barrels.
- Bourbon Barrels
- Madeira Barrels
The Quercus alba or white oak, more commonly known as American oak, is used in the production of Bourbon barrels. Utilizing trees that are at least 90 years old is a common and accepted practise. The cellular structure has bubble-like cell structures within it called tyloses. These tyloses bulge into the cavities of the xylem, which is the tube of moisture-conducting cells, and prevent water from moving through the system. Because of the tyloses, the wood is extremely impermeable to water, even when cut into thinner staves, making it ideal for the production of barrels using machinery. Before the United States took over the market with machine-produced oak casks on a scale that had never been seen before, European oak casks that were hand-cooperated maintained their dominant position until the beginning of the twentieth century. Bourbon Barrels are more commonly used in our furniture.
Made in the Madeira Islands, which are located off the coast of Portugal, madeira is a fortified wine that is very similar to port. During the time period known as the Age of Exploration, Madeira served as a common stopping point for ships on their way to the Americas. A trace amount of brandy or neutral spirit was added to the container of their wine so that it would not go bad. It was observed by sailors that after long journeys at sea, the wine would “cook” in the lower decks of the ship, and the flavours would transform. When a shipment of wine from Madeira that had been returned after a round trip due to unsold inventory made the producers of the wine there aware of this fact. Even in modern times, the wines are warmed, but now with the assistance of modern technology. Madeira Barrels are the least commonly used barrels for BarreledOver furniture.