If you are having to clean or swell your whiskey barrels before filling you definitely did not buy them from us. If a whiskey barrels 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 to 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 the blog post on wine barrel preparation, cleaning and maintenance.