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Should You Decant Whisky? Here's Everything You've Wanted To Know

By: Neelanjana Mondal

whisky decanter

Whether or not you drink whisky, you will surely have come across the different glassware and crystal bling-a-ling that cradles the beautiful amber liquid, echoing the warmth of a hearth.

We would like to draw your attention to one particular glassware—the decanter that almost always finds its way into movies. Whether found in the study or living room, as the action hero uncorks and pours the whisky into one glass to drown his sorrows or into two glasses to share booming laughter and exploits of a day’s hunt.

What is a whisky decanter?

A whisky decanter is nothing but those big jar-like glass or crystal bottles that store whisky after unbottling them. There is no right or wrong when it comes to them, it all boils down to your preference. The decanter has a tight lid or a plug, made from the same material as the bottle, rendering the whole bottle airtight. This prevents the whisky from evaporating, exactly how bottles of polish or removers work. A decanter exists for the heck of it, to elevate the aesthetics and make a statement, more than anything else. Its functionality is as good as your next tattoo or piercing.

Does it really have zero functionality?

Not exactly; well, not at least for the believers who believe there is a purpose behind the flawless decanter. One being taste, decanters are supposed to enhance the taste of the whisky within. It is quite different from wine, which uses the decanter to remove the sediments and oxygenate the drink. But for whisky, it only just stops the drink from evaporating and stops the air from interacting with the whisky. Whisky will not age like wine, period.

wine decanter

How Do Decanters Work from Whisky vs Wine?

Wine contains significantly higher levels of tannins compared to whiskey. Tannins are naturally present in grapes and can also be imparted from the oak barrels used for ageing. Whiskey, on the other hand, has no inherent tannins and only acquires a small amount from the barrels during the ageing process.

Tannins play a crucial role in the potential evolution of wine over time; they can cause changes in flavour, either mellowing or intensifying, as the wine ages. A wine that initially tastes too tannic might become smoother and more approachable after a few years of bottle aging, or vice versa. In contrast, whiskey's low tannin content means there is little potential for significant flavour changes once bottled. The taste of a finished whiskey is expected to remain consistent over time, as long as it is stored properly.

Storing whisky in a decanter

How Does One Store Whisky?

Whisky is perfect in its own bottle but you should know how to store it whether you are an enthusiastic drinker or a collector. If you are the latter person then of course you will love to keep them in the bottle, and that makes more sense. But if you are the sampler or drinker kind, then a decanter is a good option to store whiskey in, at least the bottle you have opened and are currently drinking. Decanters have a wider opening, which makes it a pleasure to pour the whisky into glasses. If you love hosting drink parties or cocktail parties a decanter is a must-have, for aesthetics sake.

Picking Your Own Decanter

Selecting the perfect whisky decanter is akin to seeking the ideal bottle of scotch—it should align with your personal preferences and style. While all decanters serve the same fundamental purpose, they can evoke distinct vibes and suit different decors and occasions. When choosing, consider the material (lead-free crystal or glass), design (from classic to minimalist, which can impact aeration), capacity (to accommodate your needs while minimizing oxidation), functionality (narrow necks for controlled pouring but potential cleaning challenges), and purpose (everyday use, special occasions, or decorative display). The right decanter should seamlessly blend form and function, enhancing your whisky-drinking experience

Whisky decanters can be useful for vintage whisky collectors

To Decant or Not to Decant

The choice is completely yours, and if you love whisky or trying to foray into collecting vintage whisky bottles, a decanter is well worth a buy. If you have a whisky bottle that has been opened and you won’t be drinking it for a while, store it in the decanter. However, the decanter can keep it good for a maximum of two years. Pick yours wisely and show it off to your fellow drinkers. 

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