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Cask Vs. Barrel: Main Differences, How To Tell Them Apart?

Cask Vs. Barrel: Main Differences, How To Tell Them Apart?

If you are a whisky or wine lover or have read content regarding whisky storage, you must have encountered the words cask and barrel. Many use these words interchangeably. However, without knowing the basics of cask vs. barrel, you will have difficulty differentiating these words.

A barrel is a cylindrical container greater in length than width with the same diameter on both ends. It typically features staves and uses metal hoops to stay in place. A cask is a barrel-shaped container, usually larger. Except based on size, no other contrasts exist between cask and barrel.

The words "cask" and "barrel" are similar because they relate to wine or liquid. But the truth is they are not 100% alike. Find out the differences between a cask and a barrel in this article.

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Definitions of Cask and Barrel

Cask and barrel are hard to differentiate because their meanings are pretty similar. However, their specific definitions can help you find the key differentiating elements between them. That said, below are definitions for these words;

Definition of Cask

A cask is a robust cylindrical or barrel-shaped container for storing liquids. Most dictionaries also define a cask "as a barrel of any size, made with staves and used for storing or holding liquids." For example, "The bar ordered a cask of alcohol for the big opening party."

This word originates from the Middle French term "casque," used in the 15th century. It also has secondary definitions that are interesting to know. Read below to have an idea of these meanings.

In brewing, a cask is a strong wooden barrel primarily used for holding alcoholic drinks, like wine or whisky. For example, "A whisky cask costs more than $1000."

Also, the word "cask" refers to the alternative name for a "flask," which means "a small container or bottle with a narrow neck and a cap for carrying gun powder or laboratory content." For example, "The engineering students took away the cask to prevent its material from reacting during the experiment."

Definition of Barrel

A barrel is a large cylinder-shaped vessel consisting of boards bound together with studs. The container features a flattened bottom and top with the same diameter. For example, "Two water barrels will not be enough for the event."

The word originated from the Anglo-Norman word "Baril." However, many sources contest its origin. In fact, some sources claim that the word is as old as 2600 years because paintings of barrels appear in pre-dated Egyptian paintings, and there are no records of previous names.

Secondary Definitions of Barrel

In Zoology, "barrel" refers to the trunk or a four-footed animal, like a cow or horse." For example, "The cow has a larger barrel than the horse."

Also, a barrel is a hollow-like space where a wave forms. The space usually appears when the wave is breaking. You can notice this in massive waves. In a sentence, "None of the swimmers could overcome the barrel when breaking the waters." Barrel is also an informal word for "a large quantity of something." For example, "a barrel of excitement."

As a transitive verb, "barrel" means "to pack or place items inside a barrel." For example, "I plan to barrel all my blankets in the cylindrical container. Additionally, it means "to pursue or force something to go at high speed." For instance, "Pressing the button will barrel the machine's circulation."

As an intransitive verb, "barrel" means "to travel or drive very fast." For instance, "We had to barrel along the highway to get to the hospital before Mary gave birth to baby Owen."

How to Properly Use Cask and Barrel in a Sentence

Using a word whose meaning you understand in a sentence is easy. However, don't use the word blindly. Below are some guidelines you should consider.

How and when to use cask

"Cask" is a noun for an object used to store liquids, especially alcoholic drinks. Therefore, you can use it in a sentence as a common noun because it does not refer to a specific object. For example, in a sentence, "The bartender needed help carrying the Whisky cask inside the facility."

You can also use this word as a verb, meaning "to put in a cask." For example, in a sentence, "Hurry and cask the alcohol before the guests appear."

How and when to use barrel

Using the word "barrel" is more complex because of its many (unrelated) meanings. The simplest way to use the term is to understand all the meanings and the different contexts in which the word applies.

Do you know that you can use this word as a noun, transitive or intransitive verb? As a transitive verb, the word takes the place of a direct object. Therefore, its applications are quite similar to nouns used as direct objects. Transitive verbs apply in passive voice. On the other hand, intransitive verbs are actions not directly performed on an object and do not apply in passive voice.

Cask vs. Barrel: More Differences

The information above shows that a cask and barrel are incredibly similar, but not the same things. The primary difference between a "cask" and "barrel" relates to the size.

A cask is typically larger than a barrel. Also, according to sources, a barrel is a cask category. Thus, a cask is a blanket term for cylindrical containers, while a barrel is a specific type of cask that holds a particular liquid capacity.

Note: Besides the barrel, there are various casks, like hogshead, butt, puncheon, and quarter casks. The primary difference between these types is their sizes. For instance, a barrel holds 200 liters of liquid, while a butt holds 500 liters.

Another difference between a cask and a barrel is that the former also applies in engineering. It is a small container with a narrow neck and cap for storing lab materials or gunpowder. In contrast, a barrel has more than half a dozen meanings that separate it from a "cask," which most people do not know about.

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List of Examples of Cask and Barrel Use in Sentences

The information in the above section will help you construct grammatically-correct sentences with the words "cask" and "barrel." Here are some example sentences you can check out before forming your sentences.

Example sentences of cask

  1. The company withdrew its order for cask wine because of its high cost.
  2. The store shipped a whisky cask but forgot to send an invoice and memo beforehand.
  3. The Mile Higher bar sells locally-brewed cask and premium brews from Europe and the United States.
  4. May I pour my friends a glass from the cask on the bottom shelf in the fridge?
  5. The company uses traditional methods to brew its world-famous cask beers.

Example sentence of barrel

  1. The barrel-makers moved their business to Napa Valley because of the demand for barrels.
  2. A barrel can hold 200 liters of liquid.
  3. The crowd let out a barrel of laughs when the bird flew across the screen unexpectedly.
  4. Fill the barrel with more water because it is a third-full.
  5. The Engineering students use the barrel to store constraint powder for laboratory experiments.


Interestingly, the definition for "cask," according to most dictionaries, includes the word "barrel." However, the definition of "barrel" does not feature the word "cask." This indicates how the two words relate but does not signify that one is superior to the other.

This cask vs. barrel article explains the difference between these terms extensively. Whenever you have doubts about the differences and usage of barrel and cask, refer to this article for clarification.