One of my ancestors was a cooper, so I’ve researched this a bit.

Barrels are made from white oak staves and iron bands. When new (below) they’re a light wood color and the bands are generally black (although I have seen them a dark iron color, too). As they age, the wood oxidizes and darkens, not necessarily evenly. Oak yellows as it oxidizes so too dark a brown color wouldn’t look right. Then there’s dirt and grime.

The iron bands rust, turning a rust red. I would imagine that being in the salt air on a ship, that rusting process would go faster. The red-hot  iron bands burn the wood as they’re put on, so if the bands were outlines in black and painted maroon red that would look pretty good. (Header picture)

Whiskey barrels are smaller than wine (or water) barrels. Given the scale and the size of the barrels we get from Hobby Lobby, I would call them water/wine barrels

I have some which I haven’t painted. As a sample, I started with a dark brown wash (Devlan Mud) to bring out the lines between the staves. The acrylic paints penetrated the small wood barrels OK. I do have some reddish wood stain I might try.

Below, new barrels.

 And older barrels with the iron bands rusted red.