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Is it safe to purchase used wine/whiskey barrels, and what are the risks?

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Yes, it is safe to purchase used barrels. There are risks, just like any other used product you may buy. You need to be an educated buyer though to help mitigate those risks. 

When it comes to used oak there are many variables to account for and inquire about. Variables like infection, dryness, overall condition (structure), how barrel was stored/cleaned, and the steps you need to take prior filling with your crafted beverage. 

My question back to you is what risks are you concerned about the most and what is your level of ability in using barrels? 
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