In the old days, every serious whisky drinker used a beautiful decanter to take their drink from the barrel where it was aged. So, what’s the benefit of using one today?
Decanting some drinks is advisable as it improves the texture or flavor. Red wine, for example, collects a sediment over time, and decanting helps to separate this gritty solution from the wine itself. There’s also an argument that aerating the wine in a lidless vessel opens it up pleasantly and improves the flavor, though this is hotly debated in expert circles.
For whisky decanters, though, it’s all in the aesthetics. Unlike wine, the decanting process doesn’t improve whisky, but it doesn’t harm it, either. The combination of having a higher alcohol content and lower presence of tannins than wine means whisky is much less likely to change flavor when exposed to oxygen. Although this will happen eventually, which is why decanters come with airtight stoppers, it’s a much slower process; think years rather than hours.
The long and short of it is that using a decanter won’t (and shouldn’t) change the properties of your favorite dram of Scotch whisky, but it will bring an extra touch of class to the moment of serving. Displaying your whisky in a glass decanter gives your guests the chance to admire both the clarity and the warm color of the liquid, creating a full sensory experience, while you feel every inch the cool and collected 1960s New York business tycoon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Glass Whisky Decanter
- The Size
The size of the decanter – or more specifically the amount of whisky it can hold – is an important thing to consider when selecting one for your home bar. As a general guideline, a 750 ml decanter will hold a 25 oz bottle, and a liter decanter will hold a 33.8 oz bottle.
- The Lead Content
Although the sparkle and timeless elegance of a lead crystal glass whisky decanter is appealing, it’s best to steer clear of them. Though beautiful, they can cause problems as the lead from the glass gradually seeps into the liquid over time.
- The Design
The look and feel of the decanter are vital, so make sure to choose one you’ll enjoy using and that also works with your home bar’s existing decor. You may prefer a sleek, tall shape or a wider, shorter style, or the showmanship of a spherical bottle suspended in a frame may appeal. Traditionalists meanwhile favor a decanter with a personalized etching. Let your personality come through in your choice of decanter and, if you can, feel the weight of it in your hand to ensure that you’ll enjoy the pouring experience.