A love for whiskey is something that develops slowly. Every connoisseur has a different experience. Between Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt, and everything in between, there is plenty to choose from. What soothes the palette of one might lack appeal to another. Your individual taste is defined by your experience, and grows with every glass.
With this in mind, it’s clear to see why the experience of whiskey is so important. Yes, flavor is an important component. But the experience isn’t defined just by flavor. The story behind a bottle, the anticipation of that first taste, and the affect the experience has on your palette are all significant. A quality decanter may serve a purely aesthetic purpose, but it’s just another way that you can enhance the experience.
Whiskey vs Wine: The Role of a Decanter
According to the scotch whiskey association, a bottle is a finished product. You can’t turn a 12 year scotch into a 13 year scotch just by leaving it on the shelf. Whiskey ages in the barrel. Once it’s bottled, the process is complete.
Wine follows a different set of rules. It’s chock full of tannins – active microbes that actively change the chemical composition (and therefore the flavor) over time. The chemicals oxidize the second they touch fresh air. How much oxidation does it take to open up a wine? Well, that’s up for debate but a good wine decanter will certainly help. But one thing is for sure: scotch will taste the same whether it’s directly from the bottle or stored in a decanter.
Some people interpret this to mean that a scotch decanter is unnecessary. But another way to look at it is that it won’t hurt. If you shop by name and drink straight from the bottle, a decanter may not have any benefit to you. But when you think about trying a new bottle, what do you imagine? Do you value the label, the setting, and the company? Most of us will answer “yes” to this question. If this is true for you, then it’s clear that the experience of drinking plays a major role in your enjoyment. To select a decanter that improves this experience, you want to find something that holds meaning to you.
The Importance of Selection
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or seeking a gift for that whiskey lover in your life, investing in a decanter is something that you won’t regret. But just like your favorite drink, it’s important to select the right decanter. A discount model from your local Wal-Mart is likely to have the same effect as a bottle of Wisers – disappointment.
How do you find the best decanter? It’s all about preference. To help narrow down your choices, we’ve hand-selected our top 15 favorites. From the quality of materials to the history of the brand, each of these decanters offers something unique. While their contents will change, these decanters can offer you a consistency rarely found in the Scotch industry.
Ravenscroft Buckingham Crystal Decanter Set
With the best scotch decanters, we look for two things: history and craftsmanship. This set offers both. Ravensoft employs classic European craftsmanship to create something that can only be described as visually stunning.
The gentle curves and thick, hand-crafted crystal help draw the eye in. As you tip the decanter to fill one of the pristine glasses, anticipation will build while you watch your drink slowly work it’s way up to the neck of the decanter. This design is a classic – and for good reason. It’s easy to hold, giving you a perfect pour every time.
You won’t find any synthetic materials here. This lead-free decanter set is made from ancient mineral deposits that are completely free of all impurities. With no synthetic additives and a hand-crafted manufacturing process, you can ensure that every purchase results in something unique.
Diamond Whiskey Decanter
This modern whiskey decanter is the perfect choice for a connoisseur who values both prestige and design. The handcrafted wooden base provides a raw, organic feel that contrasts heavily against the pristine lines of the diamond-shaped decanter. As you move to pour your most esteemed guests a drink, the eye-catching design is sure to build anticipation for it’s contents. In our eyes, there is no better way to honor the experience of your finest whiskey.
There is much more to this decanter than just the visual appeal of it. The manufacturer used only borosilicate glass to provide unparalleled durability. Every decanter is hand-blown by skilled artisans, ensuring that every single one is both flawless and functional.
Godinger Dublin 3pc Stack Decanter
It’s rare to see convenience and elegance wrapped up in the same package, but the Godlinger Dublin Stacker Scotch Decanter is the perfect example. When assembled, it’s appearance is akin to a decorative wine bottle. But when you reach for the top, you’ll quickly discover that this is, in fact, three separate components.
The decanter sits on top. Below it are two matched glasses. All three components are etched with the iconic Dublin crystal design. These lines create a very busy appearance, so you won’t notice the true functionality right away.
The simple act of pouring a few glasses can almost be described as a parlor trick. As long as you follow it up with a quality scotch, you’ll create an experience that your guests will never forget.
Luna Striped Modern Glass Decanter
Every bourbon lover knows that two seemly simple elements can combine to create something complex. The design of this modern decanter is perhaps the best visual representation we’ve seen of this concept.
The design is simple in nature. A round glass enclosure is decorated with silver striping. But cast one look at it and you’ll see something that looks much more complex than the sum of it’s parts. The striking visual illusion is made possible thanks to the high quality materials used combined with an impeccable manufacturing standard. This lead free decanter can only be described as flawless. Whether empty or full, this is a gift that’s sure to get a strong reaction from it’s recipient.
This decanter won’t be for everyone. It’s narrow neck and 50 Oz capacity means that it can only hold a single bottle, and requires a slow and steady pour. But if you’re the type who likes to savor every glass, this decanter was made just for you.
Amavel Twist Lismore Whiskey Decanter
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For some, the job of a decanter is not to draw attention to itself. Rather, it should draw attention to it’s contents. Very few decanters pull this off as gracefully as the Lismore decanter. Simple clean lines and top-tier craftsmanship are the key components here. It manages to balance grace, elegance, and beauty without any unnecessary complexity.
Best described as minimalist, this decanter uses contrast to stand out. The sharp angles of the lid and the smooth gradient of the glass combine to create something luxurious. Even though it appears like a fine piece of art, this is still one of the more affordable decanters on our list.
It’s 700 ml capacity means that a single bottle will fill it to the top. But no matter how slowly the contents disappear, one thing is certain – it will look great in any environment.
Personalized Whiskey Decanter
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Whiskey is a deeply personal experience. When two connoisseurs get together, the debate can go on for hours. But
there is one thing that we can all agree on – everyone’s taste is personal. With this in mind, why not get a decanter that is unique? This model uses a classic design that is instantly recognizable. There is a good chance that you’ve owned one with a similar look before. Although everyone will recognize it, there won’t be any other like it. This model comes with free personalization. Your name, family crest, or the name of your favorite drink can be etched onto the crystal face of this decanter.
At 23 ounces, this decanter is a little smaller than some. That makes it the best choice for single-batch scotch, or those rare varieties that you save for special occasions.
Prestige Decanters Bourbon Barrel
If you’re looking for a gift that is totally unique, look no further than the Bourbon Barrel. This 1000 ml decanter can hold even the largest bottles of your favorite drink, and presents it in a way that is rife with history.
Crafted after the classic “ship in a bottle” – a hobby that skilled artisans have enjoyed for hundreds of years – this is one of the few times that such a marvel is available without any hard work. The classic version involved painstaking assembly from hand-crafted wood. In this case, skilled glassworkers crafted a stunning ship using pure, lead free glass. When full, you only catch a glimpse of the art beneath. But as you empty the decanter, you’ll see nothing but the finest craftsmanship.
Dublin Whiskey Bar Set
This decanter features a classic crystal design that should be instantly recognizable to any whiskey fan. The intricate
network of intersecting lines is what’s known as the famous “Dublin Pattern.” This design has been the mark of fine scotch for many years, and holds a lot of significance to scotch fans.
This old-fashioned decanter isn’t sold alone, but with a set of matched glasses to go with it. You can select from a set of five, six, or eight pieces. This is a great way to expand on a matching set, or it can serve as the perfect compliment to the gift of a small batch of scotch. Between the iconic design and historic meaning, this is a decanter set that won’t disappoint.
Nachtmann Aspen Decanter Set
Whether you’re catching up with an old friend or discussing business with your partner, pouring a glass of your favorite scotch (on the rocks, of course) can make a big impact. The striking yet sleek look of this decanter set could be the one way to make this interaction stand out, and this three-piece set is the perfect size for private meetings. Why would you choose this set over another? For some, it will be the looks. But personal taste aside, this set offers something that everyone can benefit from: it’s machine washable.
Fine crystal requires a precise and expensive manufacturing process. In most cases, washing crystal in a dishwasher can damage it. But Nachtmann has a patented process that gives you the same prestigious materials with the added benefit of being dishwasher safe. This will save you time in the kitchen, letting you focus on the more important things in life.
Palais Glassware Whiskey Decanter
In todays mass-market, precicely engineered world, flaws are seen as a bad thing. But there was a time when flaws where considered character. They give you an appreciation for the challenges of hand-crafting and end product. They offer a window into the manufacturing process. Simple, but attainable.
This very concept is something that many look for in a scotch. Now, you can get the same in your decanter. This beautiful glass creation is manufactured using classic techniques, creating a design that can stand the test of time. Something like this might not seem out of place on a 17th century end table. If your home has a similar contemporary design, this decanter could make a great addition.
Crystalize Ships Whiskey Decanter
Standing only one foot tall, the slim design of this decanter is surprisingly deceptive. The raindrop-like shape gives it a delicate yet pristine look. Visually, it’s reminiscent of something fragile and fleeting. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Weighing in a 5.5 pounds, this decanter feels substantial. It holds 28 ounces of fluid, the majority of which gathers at the flat base. Light is refracted through the scotch with the sharp angular engravings on the bottom, appearing as ripples on a pristine lake.
In our eyes, this is the mark of fine craftsmanship. It’s durable, but looks fragile. It’s spacious, but looks compact. Its design is simple, but carries significance. This contemplative design offers the perfect accent to a night spent enjoying a glass of your favorite scotch.
Art Deco Whiskey Decanter Set
Very few decanter sets capture both modern and contemporary design elements as well as this Art Deco set by Maketh the Man. From the prestigious packaging to the articulate design, every aspect of this set exudes culture and class. The Art Deco styling appears modern, capable of engaging even the trained eye. But this isn’t just a simple trend. This style has been around since the 30s. Capturing it tastefully is challenging, but this is a perfect example.
This is the decanter for consumers who want something unique, but who value history. Both the decanter as well as the matched glasses are made from lead-free crystal and manufactured with precision. These aren’t the kind of glasses that will chip or break at the slightest touch. This is something that you can keep in your family for generations, even if you only save it for the right occasion.
Atterstone Whiskey Decanter
A decanter can add to an existing décor, or it can add a whole new dimension to a room. While most options are quite simple in design, the Atterstone decanter set is capable of capturing a gaze even from across the room.
There are two components to this set: the obvious and the subtle. The obvious is what draws you in first. The globe design has a worldly feel to it that would look fantastic in a room decorated with treasures from across the globe. Inside, you’ll find an expertly crafted glass ship. Whether you’re examining it up close or from afar, this decanter offers something no matter where you stand.
This is the perfect gift for somebody new to whiskey. It includes two glasses, subtly matched with the hand-etched continental design. Also included are two whiskey stones. This allows you to keep your drink cool, without watering it down.
Fitz and Floyd Bridgeport Crystal Whiskey Barware
Known for their exclusive dinnerware collection, this decanter set from Flitz and Floyd is the perfect choice for the discerning consumer. As a member of the Bridgeport collection, this set offers a throwback to a classic design.
If you do some searching, you’ll likely come across other decanter sets with a similar design. But it’s not the unique appearance that draws people to Fitz and Floyd barware. It’s the craftsmanship. They use the finest crystal available. This offers an impeccable shine even after decades of use.
This kit is available in five or six piece sets. The included glasses are the 10-ounce “double old fashioned” design. For aficionados to like to indulge in a stiff drink, the substantial capacity provided us second to none.
The Savant Ship Decanter
If you can have a beer on tap, why not have your favorite whiskey on tap? This table-top decanter is the perfect addition to your kitchen island. It stands above the clutter with a handcrafted wooden stand, providing 1 liter of capacity for your favorite drink. The side-mounted cylindrical design helps it stand out, while the stainless steel tap helps you get a perfect pour every time.
This decanter was designed with adaptability in mind. From whiskey to scotch to wine, you can serve up your favorite drink with ease. Thanks to the fine glasswork, your dinner guests can’t help but be drawn to it.
Factors to Consider Before Selecting a Decanter
Whether you’re purchasing for yourself or selecting a gift, there are a few key factors you should consider when making your choice.
Most modern whiskeys come in 750ml / 25 Oz bottles. Most decanters can hold this capacity. For the majority of users, this is the size you’re going to want. When you open a bottle, you pour the entire thing into a decanter. This minimizes exposure to oxygen, and helps keep it fresh.
However, this isn’t the only choice. If you’re investing in fine whiskey, you might not want to enjoy the whole bottle right away. There are many smaller decanters that allow you to pour a little, enjoy it, then move on to another bottle.
Fine whiskey is rarely sold above 1L, but some decanters have excess capacity. If you want to use it for other types of alcohol, it may be worthwhile to get a large model.
Crystal: Leaded or Unleaded?
Generally, most crystal glass products sold in the united states are lead free. However, many imported decanters still contain lead. In fact, if you select a decanter that uses a historical manufacturing process, you’re more likely to find that it contains lead. Leaded glass has a much higher index of refraction, and creates that distinct “crystal” look you’ve come to be familiar with. In fact, if glass doesn’t contain any lead it can’t official be referred to as Crystal.
This is still legal, and generally considered to be safe. However, leaded decanters are not meant to be used for long term storage. If you’re keeping them full for a few days (or even weeks) they’ll be fine, but for any longer period of time you’ll want to select an unleaded model.
It’s important to remember that not all lead is the same. When you’re talking about crystal, the “lead” they refer to is actually lead oxide. This material is much less harmful, and rarely found in concentrations beyond 24%
Sets or Individual Pieces
Although this might not seem like an important decision right away, it can certainly matter later on. When shopping for a single decanter it’s best to select a classic design. Since the visual appearance is so important with decanters, you’ll want the look to match your glasses. Trying to hunt down a matched set of glasses for that one of a kind decanter you tracked down can prove to be impossible. Many of these options are limited edition, and won’t stay on the market forever. If you want a gift that will last, get the set. More often than not, you’ll find that the sets don’t really cost that much more than an individual decanter. With that in mind, the value of a gift that can last a lifetime is almost immeasurable.