Published: 30th August 2022

To Decant or Not Decant?

I’m sure you’ll agree there’s something inherently magical about opening up that finest bottle of Irish whiskey for the first time and sampling what lies within. However, once opened should you decant?

It’s one of the biggest debates in the world of whiskey, so what are the pros and cons?

Whiskey decanting has long been considered by some experts, as a method of enabling the whiskey to have a richer taste. Indeed, for wine lovers the decanting of wine allows both for the removal of any sediment and for more oxygen to contact with the liquid. This process enables heightening of the aroma therefore establishing more flavour in the wine. However, with whiskey it doesn’t tend to react in the same way when exposed to oxygen.

Pouring your finest bottle of Irish whiskey into your decanter will lead to no notable or positive change in the flavour. If you were to keep a decanter one quarter full of whiskey, thereby exposing the whiskey to considerable air contact, over a prolonged period, then the impact of oxidisation over that period may eventually have an effect on the flavour of the whiskey. This process will take much longer than with wine.

In essence whiskey decanters are for presentation or aesthetic purposes. Whilst a wine decanter will traditionally be open, ensuring that the wine is routinely exposed to the air, a whiskey decanter will typically be square and more importantly have a stopper at the top minimising air contact.

Why Use Decanters then?

Whiskey decanters were initially introduced due to the unavailability of bottling whiskey. Decanters would be taken directly to barrels to be filled. However, due to whiskey now being bottled on-site the necessity for decanters, beyond their aesthetic purposes, are in a sense redundant.  Of course, there’s still a certain allure to seeing a whiskey decanter glistening in the corner of a living room filled with the golden colour of one of your favourite whiskeys.

If you do decide to use a decanter, it’s important to ensure that it has an airtight seal, thereby reducing oxygen contact. It’s also important to use crystal, lead free decanters due to the potential of lead leeching into the whiskey.

However you decide to store your whiskey, we hope that you enjoy it and savour the taste.

Interested in things like this?

To Join In with Whiskey Club, you can follow us on social media, visit our website, attend our events or subscribe to our free monthly newsletter. All newsletter subscribers will automatically be entered into our draw to win a whiskey gift or experience each month.