Fact Checked

How Do I Choose the Best Whiskey Decanter?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A whiskey decanter is different from wine decanters, since whiskey does not typically need to be decanted in the same way as wine. Wine is decanted to allow sediment to settle and to allow oxygen to help the flavors of the wine become bolder. Whiskey does not have sediment, and oxygen exposure may affect the flavors in a negative way, so a good decanter will serve an entirely different purpose. Choosing the best decanter for whiskey starts with determining how large of a unit you need, and then finding one that fits within your budget. Crystal and glass are the two most common materials for such a decanter.

The purpose of a whiskey decanter is primarily decorative: it is usually a far more attractive vessel than the original whiskey bottle, so the it makes a great presentation vessel. A cut glass decanter will feature distinct patterns and cuts in the glass to form the aesthetic, and a cut crystal decanter will do the same. Crystal tends to be clearer than glass, allowing a person to see the whiskey's tone and color more clearly. Crystal also has a special distinction as a fine material, so for entertaining purposes, it's hard to beat. The problem with crystal is the price: it is likely to be quite a bit more expensive than glass.

A crystal whiskey decanter.
A crystal whiskey decanter.

One of the most important aspects of any whiskey decanter is the stopper. This piece will help prevent oxygen from entering the decanter and affecting the flavors of the whiskey. While cork stoppers are a great way to keep oxygen out, this material is not especially durable and is likely to break down over time. Glass and crystal can both be used to make a stopper, though they will both need to be carefully formed to ensure a good seal between the stopper and the mouth of the decanter. Some stoppers feature a rubber gasket to further prevent oxygen from entering the decanter. This is a good way to combine fine aesthetics with functionality.

Some decanters come in sets that include glasses for serving the whiskey. When choosing a set, consider purchasing one that includes glasses cut in the same pattern as the decanter itself. This will provide continuity of the aesthetic. The size of the glasses matters, too: choose a set that includes rocks glasses, which are the most appropriate vessels for serving whiskey.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Isn't storing whiskey or any alcohol in crystal decanters a health risk due to the lead?


@Sara007 - I think a nice whiskey decanter set would make a great gift for your husband if he enjoys sitting down for drink now and again. It is great that you are looking for ways to fit a nice set into your budget.

If you are not sure if the seal is good, just take the decanter to the bathroom and fill it with a bit of water. Put the lid on and you should be able to tell if there is a good seal or not when you turn it over. I know most consignment shops are pretty friendly with you testing their goods.

Also if you want to really make an impression, you can get a personalized decanter holder. Just go to someone who does woodworking and they can create a nice platform for you.


My husband is a whiskey lover and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to get him a crystal whiskey decanter set for his birthday?

I came across a gorgeous antique whiskey decanter when I was out browsing in the consignment shop near my home. Usually they have OK second hand glassware, but sometimes there is a real gem thrown in.

I am wondering how I can tell if the seal on the decanter is still good, without having to buy it. I know that the store doesn't have a return policy so I wonder if there is a simple way to check?

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A crystal whiskey decanter.
      By: Constantinos
      A crystal whiskey decanter.