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A Guide to Whiskey Decanters and the Best Ones to Buy

Since the beginning of film, it feels, men of substance have almost always had a decanter nearby, ready to pour a tumbler or three of whiskey for themselves, their friends, or even for clients. The decanter itself, usually made from crystal, oftentimes steals the show. You don’t know what is inside, but you can see that the vessel is a work of art.

But, the question is: why use a whiskey decanter?

whiskey decanter
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For wine, there is a definitive purpose: a decanter lets the wine breathe, which allows certain flavors and notes to express themselves after being stuck in a bottle; wine decanters don’t have seals as whiskey decanters do. Decanting wine can also remove sediment that might be at the bottom of the vintage.

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For whiskey, though, there really isn’t a need for oxidizing or removing sediment. What it comes down to is aesthetics. If you want to look particularly badass or in control, then go ahead, put that whiskey in a decanter!

What to Look for in a Whiskey Decanter

When choosing a decanter, there are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Size: A standard bottle of whiskey is 750 mL, which equates to about 25 ounces. If you plan on putting an entire bottle in the decanter, you’ll obviously need something larger than that. If you don’t plan on putting a whole bottle in, you can move right along to the next point.
  • Airtight seal: While whiskey oxidizes slower than wine, it still oxidizes. You’ll want a decanter with a good, sturdy, airtight seal. When you transfer the whiskey from the bottle to the decanter, you’re already taking it out of its optimal environment (the original bottle), so you don’t want to exacerbate anything by providing a constant flow of oxygen due to a faulty seal.
  • Lead-free crystal: Most decanters these days are already lead-free, but it’s good to check anyway. If the crystal contains lead, and the whiskey sits in it long enough, you could chance the lead leaching into the whiskey and doing terrible things to your insides.
  • Price: Finally, how fancy do you want to look? How much do you want to show off? Will you use the decanter in a group setting such as a party, or is it going to be only for you at the end of a long day of work? What you want the decanter for should affect the price you’re willing to pay.

With these points in mind, we’ve pulled together some decanters to fit a range of styles, tastes, and prices. For suggestions on what to put into your decanter when you get one, check out the whiskey winners of The Manual Spirit Awards 2019.

Ravenscroft Crystal Beveled Blade Decanter

A mix of simplicity and beautiful design, this decanter from Ravenscroft is made from crystal and makes it almost look as if there are cubes in the decanter for a nice visual.

Waterford Crystal Lismore Diamond Decanter

Waterford crystal is known around the world for its quality. This decanter is no different and is certainly a showstopper without being too much.

JoyJolt Atlas Five-Piece Crystal Whiskey Decanter Set

No, you haven’t had too much to drink, these glasses and this decanter are actually slightly slanted. The pulled glass makes for a neat, clean presentation that still manages a bit of fun.

Storm Trooper Decanter

It’s shaped like a stormtrooper. Need we say more?

Artland Mixology Whisky Decanter

Pretend you know science with this beaker-shaped decanter. Or, simply give it to the scientist in your life and tell them to make you some science, and by science we mean neat whiskey.

Royal Decanters Globe Decanter and Glass Set

Royal Royal Decanters Globe Decanter and Glass SetDecanters Globe Decanter and Glass Set

Consider yourself a world traveler? Pick up this decanter set from Royal Decanters, which features a globe-shaped decanter with a ship inside. The decanter fits 850 mL, so you won’t have to worry about running out if you have the guys over for whiskey and cigars.

Dragon Glassware Diamond Whiskey Decanter

Dragon Glassware Diamond Whiskey Decanter

Dragon Glassware’s wares are known for their angular approach and this decanter is no different. Sitting in a holder like a diamond that belongs in a museum, this will surely be the star of your bar top for years to come.

Old Fashioned Car Decanter

Okay, so you can’t really see the whiskey in this one, but we dig the old time car that the decanter sits in. If you are worried about pouring, don’t, the glass decanter slides out of the vehicle.

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