Commercial Barrel-Aging

How do we prep a whiskey barrel to be refilled?

Ben Loseke

Different sizes of barrels in front of whiskey barrels on pallets in warehouse.

One of the most common questions we get here at MWBC is

“How do I prep the bourbon or whiskey barrel I just purchased to be refilled?”

Well it’s a very simple answer – NOTHING!

If you are having to clean or swell your whiskey barrels before filling you definitely did not buy them from us. If a whiskey barrel is “fresh” it should not need to be swelled at all before filling.

These barrels get dumped at the distillery just days before we receive them and will not sit in our warehouse for any longer than 3 weeks before they either get sold or downgraded to “non-fresh dumped” barrels.

The whiskey inside the barrel is typically 120 proof or higher, and very few microorganisms can live in that environment so the risk of having an infected “fresh” whiskey barrel is extremely low.

What about wine barrels? Wine barrels are a whole different story.

Check out our Wine Barrel Care page to learn more.


Ph.D., and Founder of Midwest Barrel Co. Barrel expert. Plant doctor. American picker. Only known allergies: spicy food and meetings.