The whiskey decanter was once a status symbol, found in corporate boardrooms and drawing rooms of the elite and successful. But times change, and these handy gadgets are now as common as stand mixers. This guide will unravel the uses of a whiskey decanter and why you need one in your home.
Reason five is my favorite, so be sure to check it out; a quick shoutout to my buddy Alex at Axe Adviser, who gave me this tip.
What is a whiskey decanter?
A whiskey decanter is a crystal or glass vessel that can come in various sizes and shapes. It acts like a wine decanter, allowing the spirit to interact with oxygen from the air. This oxidation process lets the whiskey’s aromas come to life.
Why should I use a whiskey decanter?
Use a whiskey decanter for visual appeal and to preserve the whiskey’s quality. You may also want to use one for blending whiskeys and to conceal how much the bottle cost.
Most people use decanters for their visual appeal. Sitting in a bar, lounge, or CEO’s office, they make whiskey and scotch look better. While you may want to show off the bottle’s label on a Limited Edition Suntory Yamazaki, everyday brands look better in a generic vessel.
Cheap and nasty bottles are probably best left in their bottle if you’re entertaining. It may give your guests an unpleasant, burning surprise.
2. Preserve the quality
A decanter will help preserve the life of whiskey. Unlike a wine decanter, the ones made for spirits have a lid. This feature helps keep out oxygen when not in use.
A full decanter of whiskey will retain its quality longer. Unlike a half-empty bottle that contains lots of oxygen, a topped-up decanter reduces the head space. Of course, if you’re like me and don’t keep a bottle around for long, this benefit of a decanter won’t be compelling.
Keep in mind that not all decanters are created equally. Look for one that holds the equivalent of one bottle of whiskey. It also needs a functional stopper that does a good job sealing the opening.
3. Bottles don’t help the whiskey age
Whiskey transferred from barrel to bottle will stop maturing. It doesn’t contain tannins that contribute to flavor development. Also, the alcohol content is much higher than wine, so it resists flavor change.
A decanter won’t outperform the original bottle for aging whiskey; however, it won’t do any worse. So feel free to pour a bottle into the decanter without fearing it’ll stop aging.
4. Mix a whiskey blend
While this won’t appeal to some, the more creative drinkers may like this idea. Try creating a delicious new blend using two or three different products. All you need is a decanter or two to make it happen.
5. Conceal labels when entertaining
A decanter is an excellent way to keep your whiskey preferences under wraps. Not everyone wants to be judged on their spirit of choice.
This can work both ways. If you have expensive tastes, you don’t need to seem showy in front of the penny-pinching neighbors. If you’re on a budget and entertaining guests with expensive tastes, they don’t have to know what you paid.
Related reading: Check out how to taste whiskey like an expert.
Commonly asked questions
Is a whisky decanter necessary?
People buy a decanter because they look better than a bottle and help preserve the whiskey. Decanters aren’t needed if you’re fine pouring drinks from the original bottle and don’t keep it long in the house long.
Wine vs. whiskey decanting – what’s the difference?
Wine is decanted to encourage oxidation and “open up” the drink. It also removes unwanted sediment. A cap isn’t usually needed as the wine can be sipped in one sitting. Whiskey is decanted for various reasons, but primarily for visual reasons and to help preserve the quality.
Decanter vs. carafe – how do they differ?
While both vessels hold drinks, a carafe contains alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. It also doesn’t have a stopper, as it is designed for immediate drinking. A decanter has a wider, more stable base and includes a stopper.
How long can I keep whiskey in a decanter?
Whiskey will last in a lead-free decanter for anywhere between six months and three years. The higher the alcohol content, the longer it can be stored before losing quality. Other factors that affect the whiskey’s quality include light exposure, heat fluctuation, humidity, and whether the decanter’s seal is airtight.
What should I look for in a good decanter?
A decanter should be lead-free, stable enough not to tip easily, and have a stopper that doesn’t let in air.
Is it safe to store whiskey in lead crystal?
Whiskey or any liquor should never be stored in lead crystal decanters. Lead poisoning can impact adults, especially those with hyperthyroidism or kidney disease.
How can I tell if a decanter is lead crystal?
To work out what a decanter is made of, tap it gently with a utensil like a knife. A brief, dull sound indicated regular glass, while a longer chime could mean it is lead crystal. You can also ask the seller for information on the materials used.
Which way should whiskey be stored?
Always store whiskey upright in a cool, dark place.
If you enjoyed this article, we recommend you check out our guide on how to use whiskey stones. If you don’t like watered down whiskey from ice, these are well worth the investment.