The oak rain barrels are made from actual whiskey & wine barrels
Barrels should not be set-up directly on the ground. It is best to level the ground where the barrel is to go, and put cinder blocks or decorative cut stones under the barrel. Once set-up, your rain barrel should be full after one or two good rainfalls.
At first the water coming out of the tap may have a dark color to it, this is due to the fact that the inside of the barrels have been toasted (this is a process in which the inside of the barrel is burned to allow the flavor of the oak to mix with the whiskey). This means there is a thin layer of charcoal lining the inside of the barrel, plus whatever small amount of ash may have settled on the bottom. This will wash out over time. Or when the barrel is empty you can remove the downspout adapter and vacuum out the inside of the barrel. (This mainly applies to whiskey barrels and not the wine barrels).
Another thing you will notice is the water coming out of the tap will have a slight odor to it. Remember this is rain water and not tap water, therefore, it has a more organic smell. Having said all that, I can tell you that I've been using oak rain barrels myself for years and never had any problems. The color and smell of the water does improve the more the barrel is emptied and allowed to refill, and the water is good for plants.
Important Notes: Rain barrels must be emptied before winter and the downspout should be disconnected from the barrel to avoid water entering the barrel and freezing.
Also, the downspout adapter on the top of the barrel should be checked regularly, leaves and other debris from the roof should be removed and the screen rinsed out.