Build an extraordinary whiskey barrel BBQ smoker

Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by teamobn

Whisky Barrel Smoker

There are many kinds of smokers. You can buy charcoal smokers, gas smokers, wood smokers, electric smokers, and pellet smokers. But why buy when you can build one?

This project brings elements of two activities that many enjoy together: barbecuing and drinking. We’re sure you see how using a wine or whiskey barrel to build a smoker just makes sense in all the right ways.

Prettier than a drum barrel, eh?

This DIY barbecue smoker is different as it doesn’t have a hinged door for adding/removing charcoal while cooking. Heat regulation is done simply by capping and uncapping its air intake. Though its design is not the usual, it definitely functions well without any issues.

Whiskey Barrel BBQ Smoker

Do you have any access to a good empty whisky barrel? Then this should be your next project!

Don’t get too excited for this weekend’s barbecue though — this is a project that also requires some time and patience. But we’re sure it’s worth it. đŸ˜‰

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You’ll need these materials:

  • Empty Whiskey or Wine Barrel
  • Generic Pull Handle
  • 1 large Cork and 6-ish small Corks
  • 2 grilling grates – size will depend on the interior size of your barrel
  • Self Tapping Screws
  • Wood Stain and Sealant (optional)
  • Temperature Gauge w/ 4in long stem
  • 3 – 3/4″ x close NPT threaded nipple fittings
  • 3 – 3/4″ NPT End Caps
  • 4 – 90 degree Brackets
  • Fire Bricks
  • Water Pan
  • Dolly/ Cart or Wheels (optional)

And these tools:

  • Electric Sander
  • Electric Drill
  • Jigsaw

Steps to build a whiskey barrel BBQ smoker

Whisky Barrel Smoker

Depending on how dirty the barrel is, you will want to use either an electric sander if you have one or hand sand it and clean off the outside of the barrel.

Whisky Barrel Smoker

In order to prevent the individual pieces of wood (staves) from moving, we screwed each stave to the metal bands. This was by far the most gruelling part of this project. Using an electric drill (which would be easier with an electric impact drill) and self-tapping screws, we made sure each stave had at least one screw securing it to the metal band.

Since the staves vary in size, some were wide enough that they needed 2 screws. Your screw might try to walk a bit or have issues first grabbing onto the metal. We ended up needing to use a hammer and centre punch to make a pilot for each hole so the screws wouldn’t walk.

Whisky Barrel Smoker

Once you have the first band of screws completed, the same needs to be done for the next three bands. If you want all of your screws to line up then you can either draw pencil lines from the first band or (as we did) use lines of tape to line the screws up along all 4 bands. If you are not quite as OCD, then you can just wing it and put the screws wherever you want on the other 3 bands.

As I said before, this is definitely the most time-consuming part of the project and took us a couple of days to complete.

Whisky Barrel Smoker

Once all the screws are finally done, it is time to make the lid. Either draw a line or use tape to mark where you want to cut the lid. We used tape to create our line and then used a jigsaw to follow along the edge of the tape to cut the top of the barrel off and thus create our lid.

Chances are you won’t have the straightest cut (we definitely didn’t) but as long as the lid still fits pretty snugly on the top of the barrel it should work fine. Afterwards, we sanded down the top edge of the barrel and bottom edge of the lid so they didn’t have any rough edges.



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