Quote Originally Posted by BFerguson View Post
Most simple put, taste and function.

White Oak has a nice taste, but so do others, maple, cherry probably being the best. Walnut and red oak, nasty and smelly, expecially ingested. Cedar and pine, no way, unless you are a fan of Retsina.

Then there is the function. White oak is basically waterproof, due to the tyloses present in the pores of the wood. Kind of important when trying to keep a liquid contained. Others, not so much. I remember seeing a pic of the maple barrels Woodford used, leakiest things I'd ever seen.

Personally, I'd love to taste something aged in charred cherry. it smells so sweet when working it, and it's the best kept secret in grilling woods.

I'd love to try some cherry-aged whiskey. It's been tried with wine, and it seems it confers the tannins more quickly than oak. That could be good for people who like extra-aged spirits like the 15+ year old bourbons and ryes. I also use cherry for grilling and smoking, and I think it's great. It's also quite nice looking when finished with a nice, deep stain.

To answer another question, the charring serves two purposes: it caramelizes the sugars in the wood, and it increases the surface area of the wood as well.