Updated Jan 2015: Added video and additional content.
We have all seen the countless movies where the wealthy business man (or drug lord for that matter!) is sitting in
his penthouse/office, reflecting over the day’s events, reach over to a beautiful vintage liquor decanter and pour him some golden hard liquor.
It is a sign of luxury, sophistication and a statement of one’s wealth. The question is should you use a one, what kinds are there, what does it do and where can you get one?
The where or how to get a decanter for your hard liquor (or any liquor for that fact) is quite easy and we can address that later but what we really want to know is the why.
What is a Decanter?
They come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are cheap, plain and average and others are works of art! Generally Cognac, Brandy and whisky are square in shape.
Traditionally made out of cut lead crystal and were used to avoid the crassness of serving your fine hard liquor from the bottle. As mentioned before it gave a sophistication and classiness to the user.
It will be accompanied by a stopper of sorts that “crowns” the bottle. Hanging from this crown is a label, describing the contents. They come by themselves or in elaborate gift sets and there are some truly beautiful glass gift sets out there.
Why Would You Use One?
The use is to separate the liquid from the sediment in the bottle. Decanting is basically pouring the liquid from one container to another (decanter) leaving the sediment in the bottle.
The other use is to “open up” and aerate the contents of the bottle, adding oxygen to open up the flavor. There are a small amount of people out there who use decanters to hide the low quality liquor they are serving.
So how does this apply to Whisky? Plain and simply put it doesn’t. Decanting applies to drinks like red wine where there is sediment in the bottle and aerating the wine will release flavors hidden within the bottle, changing the flavor.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use one for whisky. For nostalgic or sophistication purposes alone, I think they’re wonderful.
Buying your First Decanter & What to Look For.
Besides the amazing beauty of some decanters out there you need to look for some specific things before you put your chosen hard liquor within its walls.
First off you need to make sure it is the right size. Some vintage decanters were made in some strange sizes so make sure there is enough room for the exchange.
It needs to be air tight so make sure it seals. There will be some aerating during the initial transfer so be mindful when you are pouring. Make sure it has a good seal, just like the bottle it came from.
The shape can change how you use them. Some people like them with a wide base, saying that it allows more open surface for air to contact.
Others complain that this will make it hard to pour. So for this is recommend you try them out and find what suits you.
Lastly and most importantly make sure it is lead free crystal. These days the majority are lead free, but be wary of that old vintage decanter your great great grandfathers, father used.
Leaded crystal decanters can be dangerous as over time the lead can leach into your liquor and when lead reaches high levels it can cause health problems.
Here is a list of glassware that we like:
This decanter is a massive hand cut gem. This is the perfect old world spirits decanter. It will dazzle the most discriminating enthusiast. Brilliant lead-free crystal, hand cut, in by old world European craftsmen. Ravenscroft Crystal Decanters are produced from expensive ancient mineral deposits that eliminate the need to add lead as a clarifying agent. Height: 13 1/2-inch. Width: 5-inch Capacity: 34-ounce.
This decanter comes with a glass stopper and is made out of lead free crystal. It comes in a gift box which makes a nice touch for a gift to that special someone. This decanter has a modern design and is hand crafted. It has a 26 oz capacity. It is 11.5 inches top to bottom and is 4.5” side to side.
This is a reproduction of a design owned by Thomas Jefferson, adorned at its peak by a round top that recalls a lone tree standing triumphant; the Monticello Single Decanter is elegant and enduring. Monticello (or little mountain in Italian) is the name Thomas Jefferson gave to his Estate in the rolling hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. Hand made in Europe of brilliant lead free crystal. Height: 10 3/4-inch. Width: 5 1/2-inch. Capacity: 46-ounce.
If you want more of a complete set then take a look at this beautiful Dublin Crystal 8 Piece Set. A beautiful way to serve your favorite liquor, this decanter and double old-fashioned glass set is made of 24% lead crystal.
The “Dublin” pattern combines diamond and wedge cuts in a beloved Irish style that sparkles brilliantly. The heavy weight of the rich materials feels satisfying in the hand and lends durability to the elegant look.
The crystal glass set features six 8-oz.double old-fashioned glasses and a 3.4×10.6″ square crystal decanter with a starburst-cut ball stopper.
If you are not interested in buying a complete set you will still need some superb glassware to drink from so compliment any of these amazing decanters with a Waldorf “Men’s Bar” Crystal Whiskey Glass (Gift Box Set of 2).
In conclusion they’re are mainly for show and have no real use other than looking dapper and giving you the knowledge on how to drink like a sir!
If you are the nostalgic type (which I am) and like the added class of pouring the beautiful drop from a finely crafted piece of crystal glassware I invite you to take a look at some of the beautiful works of art that are out there.
Stay away from the cheaply made, thin glassware and buy something stylish.
Some of the best lead free crystal glassware sets are priced well and made of quality can be found on Amazon.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any feedback or opinions on the topic then please leave a comment!
Do you use them?
Its a matter of preference and we would love to hear your opinion!