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Ask any expert, and they’ll tell you that there’s an art to finding the perfect whiskey decanter. “A decanter is meant to be displayed, so it should fit your home decor and represent your style,” says Clay Whittaker, freelance journalist and whiskey expert. “But, it should also be functional—your decanter shouldn't be needlessly difficult to lift or pour from, and you should consider how difficult it will be to clean or dust.”
Where glass is concerned, safety is always an important factor. Aside from durability, Whittaker says, you’ll want to make sure that the decanter is made from crystal and is lead-free. “Leaded crystal will leach lead into alcohol over time." He adds, "That may not be an issue for glassware, which you're only using for a few hours, but a decanter holding whiskey for a few days, weeks or months will make whatever is inside fairly toxic.”
With that said, here are some of the best—and safest—whiskey decanters on the market.
Best Overall: Bormioli Rocco Whiskey Decanter Set
Made from premium materials
Plastic stopper looks cheap
Bormioli Rocco's whiskey decanter set is both affordable and high quality. As one of Italy’s top glassware brands since 1825, this is a trusted name with a wide variety of glasses and accessories for any occasion. This set from the Selecta Collection is an excellent value with six matching 9.5-ounce, diamond-cut rocks glasses and a stunning glass decanter with a 33.75-ounce capacity, sealing stopper, and intricate starburst pattern cut into the glass. These pieces are crafted from fine sand and other premium raw materials. Plus, both the glasses and the decanter are dishwasher safe.
Best Personalized: Home Wet Bar Draper Decanter
Made from lead-free crystal
Personalized glass items can oftentimes come off a bit tacky, but Home Wet Bar’s Italian-made Draper whiskey decanter is anything but. Choose your single letter, which will be laser engraved in an elegant, Olde English typeface on the decanter’s front panel. Holding up to 24 ounces of the liquid of your choice, this personalized decanter makes for a great gift and is made from lead-free crystal. Note that it is dishwasher safe, and there's also the option not to monogram the decanter.
Best Minimalist: Nambé Vie Decanter
The classic scientific beaker gets a modern upgrade with the Nambé Vie Decanter, designed to hold either your favorite spirit or wine. Featuring an acacia wood topper, this glass decanter has a nicely weighted base, giving it a luxe, high-quality feel to match the appearance. Made in Poland and designed by Chris Granneberg, a revered product designer, this whiskey decanter holds 24 ounces and is dishwasher safe (just be sure to hand wash and immediately dry the wood stopper to avoid damage or compromising the seal).
Best Budget: Paksh Capitol Glass Decanter
Easy to grip
Smaller than other options
This simple whiskey decanter is actually on many a best-of list. It's a bit small, holding 23.75 ounces (about 2 ounces short of a full bottle). But with an airtight, plastic-tipped glass stopper and thick Italian glass, this glass decanter is a surprising bargain. The smooth sides make it easy to personalize with an engraving: a thoughtful gift for any whiskey enthusiast.
Good to Know:
“The best ways to use a decanter are for home blends and infinity bottles; basically, it's the ideal vessel for displaying a whiskey you've blended yourself," says Whittaker. "A decanter is really a statement piece—a way to create a little mystery." He also adds, "Aaron Goldfarb has a great book on the subject called 'Hacking Whiskey,' but trial and error is just as entertaining.”
Related: The Best Gifts for Whiskey Lovers
Best Modern: Nude Glass Malt Whiskey Bottle with Wooden Tray
Made from lead-free crystal
Includes a wooden tray
The soft, clean lines and thinner but durable lead-free crystal glass take this decanter in a welcomed direction away from those thick, beveled-edge square decanters of yore. Thanks to the purity and clarity of the handmade Turkish glass, you'll be better able to enjoy the way the light dances through your whiskey. This timeless design created by award-winning Finnish furniture designer Mikko Laakkonen will complement most any bar cart style, from midcentury modern to industrial. Its 37.2-ounce capacity can accommodate a bottle and a half of the good stuff. And the accompanying wooden tray has enough room for both the bottle and your favorite tumbler.
Related: The Best Ice Cube Trays
Best Set: Ravenscroft Buckingham Scotch Decanter Gift Set
Includes satin bags for storage
Made from lead-free crystal
The scotch connoisseur will appreciate the four single-malt scotch tumblers in this set. They're reminiscent of Glencairn glasses, a favorite at whiskey festivals and tastings. The tulip shape with a round bowl and narrow opening concentrates the aroma of the whiskey at the top of the glass, allowing the drinker to nose it and better appreciate the layers. The classically designed decanter can accommodate 30 ounces of scotch and features a glass stopper. Both come with their own satin bags for safekeeping and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Related: The Best Whiskey Books
Most Unique: Norlan Raif Whisky Decanter
Made from hand-blown glass
Aluminum stopper isn't air-tight
You'll want this futuristic-looking decanter not only because it reminds you of Superman's memory crystal, but also because it's a work of handcrafted art. Its glass is hand-blown, cut, sanded, polished and oiled to a soft finish, while its aluminum stopper is digitally sculpted and sprayed with a matte surface. Measuring 14.3 inches high, 3.7 inches wide and 3.5 inches deep, this mini monolith can hold a liter of whiskey. But because its aluminum stopper isn't airtight and sits on the lid of the vessel, use the decanter for presentation, not storage.
Related: The Best Whiskey Stones
There's really no beating the Bormioli Rocco Whiskey Decanter Set (view at Amazon) for its price and quality. Most sets only come with two or four glasses (see the Ravenscroft set in this list on Amazon), but this one comes with six stunning 9.5-ounce rocks glasses with a diamond-cut design. The fact that the Italian glass set is dishwasher safe makes it easy to elevate your whiskey experience without being too precious about it. And although this glassware doesn't have the heft of crystal, it exhibits sturdiness and solidity for such a great price.
How do you clean a whiskey decanter?
Finally emptied your decanter and want to clean it? With that skinny neck, forget about using dishwashing soap and a scrub brush. Instead, fill it up with warm water and vinegar or baking soda and let it soak for at least half an hour. Afterward, cover the opening with your hand and shake up the cleaning solution in the vessel. Empty the decanter and then rinse it thoroughly.
How long does whiskey last in a decanter?
It depends. If the decanter is made of lead crystal, the whiskey needs to be consumed within two days before the lead leaches into it. If the glass stopper has a loose fit, the spirit will evaporate over time. Opened whiskey will oxidize like wine, albeit slower (between six months to two years), and affect the taste.
Why use a whiskey decanter?
Since whiskey is already aged, there is no need to decant it. But a whiskey decanter can dress up your bar cart, make cheap whiskey look really good or help control how much your guests drink. Instead of offering them a full bottle, throw some into the decanter. Not only will it help prevent them from overdrinking, but you'll still have some left over in the original bottle after they've gone.
What to Look for in a Whiskey Decanter
Since a whiskey decanter should be used as a serving vessel as opposed to long-term storage, it's OK to prioritize looks. This bottle will dress up your home bar or bar cart, as well as take your hosting skills to the next level. Next, consider if you want a decanter that can fit a whole 750 mL bottle of whiskey or just a bit at a time. Make sure it's lead-free if you plan to keep whiskey in there for a while, and that it's equipped with an airtight seal.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Longtime wine and spirits writer Céline Bossart is a big fan of form meeting function, hence her affinity for keeping multiple decanters around the house. In her opinion, no bar cart is complete without one.
This roundup was updated by Caroline Pardilla, a cocktail writer and Instagrammer who appreciates a well-made, high-quality decanter, especially when it looks good on the 'gram.