From what I understand, they don't use red oak because it imparts a cat pee type of smell. I may have that confused with something else. Wine is involved.It's my understanding that barrels for wine or any other alcohol are almost always white oak as opposed to red oak as white oak is much less prone to decay and is a much harder wood to begin with. While wine makers look for specific characteristics woodworkers look for other characteristics. I like the ray flecks in oak. It's always such a beautiful look.