5 Best Whiskey Decanter Sets, According to a Spirits Expert

Make a statement on your bar cart with one of these stunning decanters.

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December 15, 2021
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In order to answer the question: “Do I need a whiskey decanter?” one first must determine their relationship to the word “need.” I spent the better part of a decade working in restaurants with well-executed beverage programs, and a sommelier masterfully transferring an expensive bottle of wine into a fancy decanter was a regular occurrence. In contrast, I’ve never seen anyone professionally decant a whiskey—or any other spirit for that matter. With wine, the decanting process serves a number of vital functions: it aerates a wine that may need to “open up” with some oxidation; it also helps sequester sediment, which is an undesirable element that can befall older wines. Neither of these two issues affect spirits to a significant degree.

If decanters do not serve as vital a function for spirits as they do for wine, then why would someone need one? Well, because they’re nice! When eating and drinking, the experience is influenced just as much by how you’re consuming the thing as the thing itself. An expensive single malt Scotch is not the same out of a paper cup than it is from a gorgeous old-fashioned glass. The same applies for decanters. If transferring your favorite spirit into a beautiful vessel brings you pleasure, by all means. And because decanters do not serve a vital function, you’re far freer to have more fun with them, picking them out for how they make you feel, rather than their technical specifications. That said, if you are planning to use a decanter for long-term storage, make sure you find one with a stopper, and do your best to keep it away from heat and sunlight.

So rather than asking if you "need" a decanter, ask yourself if you want one, and if that answer is yes, here are some great ones to check out.

$1,300

If you want to have (or give) the one decanter to rule them all, this is the one. Produced by the legendary Alsatian glassmaker Lalique, this sturdy-yet-elegant piece is a stunning (if extremely expensive) addition to any home bar. One thing to note on crystal decanters: they contain lead, which can leech when coming into contact with the acidity of wine, so reserve this only for spirits to be on the safe side.

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An extremely accessible price point and classic design makes this one a no-brainer for anyone looking to build out their bar cart for the first time without risking too much.

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This decanter is a clever fusion of form and function. This stackable set is perfect for those of us with constraints on how much of our living space we can devote to recreational beverages. I would advise caution against stacking too high, especially when there’s alcohol involved.

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There is something about this decanter that is so effortlessly handsome. The subtle styling of this hand-blown, lead-free decanter allows it to feel at home in any setting, while its gentlemanly, space-saving design is a welcome addition to an already-crowded bar cart.

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The benefit of being released from the demands of practicality is that you are free to be as absurd and campy as you want. Seriously, who can reject the charms of a reindeer-shaped decanter where the liquid goes down to the hooves and pours from an antler tip? My only reservation with this one is the stopper, which is a conventional cork and may need to be replaced periodically.

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