A Laid-Back Guide to Liquor Decanters
Sure, liquor decanters had been around, in Neil Simon plays and movies from the 60s, but nobody in my family ever used one. They always seemed like something from the past, too stuffy and impractical for modern use. However, I’ve realized the error of my ways, and now use wine decanters, liquor carafes, and crystal bottles for just about every type of alcohol I serve at home. So why do you put whiskey in a decanter? What does putting alcohol in a decanter do? Which decanter do you use for which liquor? How long does whiskey stay good in a decanter? Here’s a laid-back guide, guaranteed to be enlightening and unfussy, just like a nice bottle of whiskey.
The Ultimate Guide to Decanters and How to Use Them
Why use a liquor decanter?
The main reason to use a decanter is for appearance and style. It’s the same reason baristas bring your milk in a tiny little pitcher at an upscale coffee shop instead of sitting the carton on the table. Polish and good taste are always necessary, and a sleek alcohol decanter brings both of those qualities to your home bar. Using the bottle from the store is understandable if you are serving Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey and want to show off the label, but for everyday spirits, a stylish decanter is the way to go.
Another fundamental decanter purpose is to show off the clarity of the spirits. Many brands of alcohol use dark colored glass that obscures the color and texture of what is inside. For liquors like whiskey, dark rum, and gold tequila, transferring the liquid to a carafe or crystal bottle enhances the beauty for everyone to appreciate.
In addition to these two aesthetic reasons, decanting liquor opens up the flavor in some instances. Red wine is the prime example. When you uncork a bottle of any dark red variety of wine, you want to expose it a little bit of oxygen to help open up the flavors. The act of pouring the wine into a decanter itself will give it a chance to “breathe,” but 30 minutes or more in an unsealed glass wine decanter is even better. Some argue that decanting whiskey, gin, and tequila has similar benefits, although the difference is much more subtle.
How long does liquor stay good in a decanter?
If you’re using a decanter with an airtight seal, the spirits inside will last just as long as they would in the original glass alcohol container. For wine, that means only a few days, but vodka, brandy, and other spirits could last for years. Some types of decanters have a loose fitting glass stopper, which means the alcohol will slowly evaporate, but can still be stored worry-free for months. Other carafes and decanters don’t have a stopper at all. For this type of container, pour only the amount you plan to drink that day.
A striking whiskey decanter is the perfect way to make a bold statement about your drink. The hefty glasses combined with the classic decanter create a refined set that makes a perfect drinking set for strong flavors, as well as being a strong centerpiece for any home or home bar.
Which decanter shapes for which liquor?
When it comes to shapes, sizes, and materials, the options are practically endless. Possibilities include large, small, round, square, teardrop, glass, crystal, wood, stainless steel, new, old, and everything in between. As long as you follow the suggestions above for keeping your alcohol sealed, the choice is yours, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind.
When choosing a gin decanter, look for clear glass and smooth surfaces. Gin is typically colorless, but some varieties will have subtle blue or golden hues. Untextured glass has a magnifying effect that will slightly enhance those delicate variations. However look for subtle cuts in the glass to enhance the look of the liquor when choosing a gin decanter.
A crystal liquor carafe will give your bar a vintage vibe. Since antique cut lead crystal was a symbol of luxury for hundreds of years, many people still associate this look with the salons and parlors of yesteryear. Until the 20th century, most glassware makers used only round shapes. An intricately cut square glass decanter such as this will give you the nostalgic feel with a modern twist.
For the world traveler, this unique round world globe shaped decanter is an excellent choice. Shaped like a world globe with the continents etched on it, it rests on it’s base so it can spin. This liquor decanter is great for whiskey, rum, vodka, bourbon, or gin and very eye-catching.
When presenting a wedding or anniversary gift, a crystal bottle for liquor is a trustworthy companion for the alcohol itself. With its gently twisted shape this decanter is quite elegant. Yes, I always value the gift of Grey Goose, but an heirloom serving piece will be far more memorable in the long run.
Novelty decanters like this adorable Labrador add a fun and unique feel to your home bar. Whether you’re a dog lover, a fan of Labs or you just want to get something no one else you know will have for their home bar, this unique dog decanter is one of the coolest whiskey decanters. Plus, you’ll definitely enjoy the custom rocks glasses it comes with which are sure to be yet another great addition to your barware.
A dedicated tequila decanter is essential, especially if you host lots of parties. Since the flavor of tequila can be intense, the aeration provided by pouring it into a decanter will take away a bit of the sting. It’s also useful if you want to buy a mid-priced bottle, but avoid letting people think you are a cheapskate.
Novelty decanters are always fun to have! This spooky skull decanter is a must-have for Halloween, but it’s also cool enough to keep in your home bar year-round. The skull glasses will have you feeling like a ruthless Viking drinking the blood of your enemies from their skulls as you watch the newest season of Vikings. Rum or whiskey is best for this type of liquor decanter so that you can enjoy all of the details of the skull design, but clear liquors will look awesome too!
Decanters can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This unusual triangular decanter is quite the conversation piece and is great for serving drinks because its geometric shape makes it easy to grip and pour from. It even has matching triangular glasses to make a complete set! For those of you with modern decor, this interesting decanter is perfect for your home bar.
Turn your hunting lodge or home bar into a badass hang out with this incredible shotgun whiskey decanter! Perfect for displaying on the mantle or on the bar itself, this large decanter belongs front-and-center in the room. You and your friends will enjoy using the shotgun shell-embedded glasses to take shots or enjoy some Bulleit bourbon.
Grab a stogie and your finest bourbon because this decanter set is perfect for enjoying the perfect pairing of cigars and whiskey. The decanter is a reverse design of the Glencairn glass so that flavors are more concentrated at the top rather than the bottom. This means you can taste even the most subtle of flavors and enjoy all of the wonderful aromas with ease. Ideal for whiskey tasting or casual drinks, this whiskey decanter is sure to impress any whiskey lover who drinks from it!
Thick glass is best for vodka decanters. Whether you are taking shots or mixing martinis, you’ll want to chill the vodka before, and thin glass is brittle when it gets cold, more likely to shatter. Look for thick walls and a flat base that will sit firmly on a bed of ice.
You may want to swap out different sets of glassware from time to time, so don’t get hung up on finding pieces that are an exact match in terms of shape. When putting together a full set of glassware, don’t be scared to pair a square whiskey bottle with round lowballs. Just make sure all pieces were made from a similar color of glass. This set comes with a decanter and matching glasses so you don’t have to worry about them not matching. There are endless variances in the clarity of clear glass, but when you look at individual pieces side-by-side, the differences are usually noticeable.
This whiskey decanter comes with a set of unique glasses to create a seamless experience when you are enjoying cigars and your favorite bourbon, whiskey, or scotch. The cigar glass will leave your off-hand free, which makes pouring a friend a refill from the matching decanter a breeze.
Finally, remember that appearance is the most important consideration with liquor containers. Whatever you decide on, make sure it represents your taste and style. Your drinkware assortment should be a reflection of what inspires you and makes you happy, and that will, in turn, will bring the same qualities out of your party guests.