For whiskey drinkers, the ceremony of pouring and then enjoying a dram is sacred. Savoring a fine spirit is a ritual that involves more than just the liquid itself. Just as drinking out of a high-quality whiskey glass can be an indispensable part of the experience, so can serving whiskey out of a fancy decanter.
Using a decanter adds a certain weight, a sense of deliberate purpose, that imparts a hefty dash of joy to whatever you are drinking. Whether you fill yours with your favorite top-shelf liquor or an affordable daily drinker, it's a way to bring a note of extra luxury to your whiskey enjoyment. We scoured the internet looking for fine decanters that you can be proud to put on your bar. Here are the best we've found.
Waterford Lismore Diamond Decanter
Irish crystal-maker Waterford has been world-famous for more than 200 years, and this decanter combines classic and modern. Its tall, triangular shape is fairly old-school, but the intricate pattern carved into the surface is a recent invention designed to add sparkle to the liquid inside. The high-quality crystal is weighty and beautiful, an heirloom that needs to be treated as such: Don't dare put this thing in the dishwasher! At 14 inches tall, it might not fit under cabinets or between bar shelves, but it's also a piece you'll want to keep on display.
Price at time of publish: $375
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 32 ounces | Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 14 inches | Weight: 6.6 pounds
Bormioli Rocco Selecta Whiskey Decanter Set
Includes a set of matching glasses
This decanter set makes a beautiful starter collection for the amateur drinker and elegant addition to any home bar for the seasoned connoisseur. For less than the cost of a nice bottle of bourbon, you get a gorgeous diamond-cut decanter with a 1-liter capacity and airtight lid—plus six matching tumblers. The sturdy, heavy-based glasses are perfect for sipping spirits or cocktails, neat or on the rocks.
Made from fine sands and raw materials in Parma, Italy, this incredibly detailed and durable decanter set should last you through cheers for years to come. It's safe for use in the dishwasher, although hand washing is recommended to ensure a longer life. The heavy glass-topped stopper feels nice, but the part that actually seals in the liquid is plastic and feels a little cheap.
Price at time of publish: $33
Materials: Glass, plastic | Capacity: 33.8 ounces (decanter), 9.5 ounces (glasses) | Dimensions: 11.8 x 7.8 x 4.1 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds
Baccarat Harmonie Round Whiskey Decanter
Synonymous with high-end luxury, French brand Baccarat produces all kinds of gorgeous crystal tableware and barware. Its products are stunningly beautiful but also stunningly expensive; anything from Baccarat should be an heirloom for generations to come. Among the brand's many decanters, the Harmonie stands out for its Art Deco style, with vertical stripes and a tall stopper that kind of looks like an old-fashioned top hat. This decanter can hold a standard 750-milliliter bottle but not much more, so be careful not to overfill or spill—especially considering that you'll probably be filling this very special vessel with some very special liquid.
Price at time of publish: $925
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 26.5 ounces | Dimensions: 7.6 x 6.1 x 15.9 inches | Weight: 4.8 pounds
LSA International Bar Spirits Decanter
Glass walls are delicate
If you want to fill your decanter and not worry about topping it off for a while, this version from LSA International is big enough to hold an entire 1.75-liter bottle—also known as a handle. Made from hand-blown glass, it’s not as heavy as crystal, which is good since the weight of all the whiskey inside will add to the heft when pouring a dram. The crisp, minimalist design will look great on any bar, and at just over 10 inches tall, it can also tuck away in a surprisingly small space.
Price at time of publish: $131
Material: Glass | Capacity: 60 ounces | Dimensions: 5.1 x 5.1 x 10.2 inches | Weight: 3.3 pounds
Jonathan Adler Whiskey Rocket Decanter
Fun, distinctive look
When cocktail hour can’t start fast enough, it’s time to hop on a rocket. This showpiece perfectly captures Jonathan Adler's mix of high design and camp, and it'll bring a smile to even the most cynical whiskey drinker’s face. Crafted from white porcelain and adorned with 16-karat gold detailing, the decanter holds a liter and a quarter, leaving lots of room for smooth pouring even after you load it up with a full bottle. The rocket's nose-cone lid even has an airtight gasket to prevent the alcohol from evaporating into space. The only real downside is that the opaque ceramic means you can't see how full the decanter is and when you need to buy some more whiskey.
For fans of other spirits, don't despair: Jonathan Adler makes similar rocket decanters for tequila, rum, vodka, gin, and more.
Price at time of publish: $198
Material: Porcelain | Capacity: 42.3 ounces | Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 14 inches
Ravenscroft Crystal Taylor 5-Piece Whiskey Decanter Set
Includes four glasses
This surprisingly inexpensive set is a great way to get authentic crystal sparkle without blowing your budget. Handmade in Poland from lead-free crystal, the decanter and glasses have a fairly simple design, but all five pieces feature a mouth-blown bubble in the base that unifies the matching set. The decanter itself holds a full liter, while the heavy-based tumblers are big enough to hold a cocktail or just some Scotch on the rocks. Unlike most crystal vessels, this set is even dishwasher-safe!
Price at time of publish: $130
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 34 ounces (decanter), 11 ounces (glasses) | Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 7 pounds
Best Conversation Piece
Chef's Star Etched Globe Decanter Set
Includes glasses, funnel, and whiskey stones
This decanter set wouldn't look out of place on the set of a Nicolas Cage movie, but you don't have to be an international treasure hunter to make it a fun accent in your study, office, rec room, or secret underground lair. The spherical decanter has a glass ship inside and is etched with a map of the globe. It and the four matching glasses fit into the custom stand when not in use, and the set also includes whiskey stones for chilling your spirit without diluting it, as well as a steel funnel to fill the narrow-necked vessel with no spillage.
Keep in mind that the decanter is fairly small. It can hold the contents of a full 750-milliliter bottle, but that will fill it up almost to the top and make pouring kind of awkward. Its round bottom means it can't sit on a bar or table and must be placed carefully back into the stand. The walls of the decanter and glasses are also fairly thin, so you need to treat everything with care in general. On the other hand, the price is low enough that you could replace a broken set multiple times for less than the cost of a fancy crystal decanter.
Price at time of publish: $60
Materials: Glass, wood, steel | Capacity: 28 ounces (decanter) | Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 6 inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds
A beautiful creation from an all-time classic maker, the Waterford Lismore Diamond Decanter gets our top recommendation. For amazing quality and a full set of glassware on a serious budget, try the Bormioli Rocco Selecta Whiskey Decanter Set instead.
What to Look for in a Whiskey Decanter
Judging capacity can be confusing because bottles are measured in metric but decanters are often measured in imperial. Most decanters are built to hold a full "regular" bottle, which is 750 milliliters, or a little over 25 ounces—you might also know it as a "fifth" because it's roughly a fifth of a gallon. For a larger-capacity decanter, consider that whiskey also comes in 1-liter (33.8-ounce) and 1.75-liter (59.1-ounce) bottles. It's a good idea to leave a bit of room in the decanter; if you fill it up all the way to the brim, it's awkward to pour from and liable to spill.
In whiskey, as in nearly all food and drink, oxygen is the enemy of flavor. If you plan to store spirits in the decanter for the long term, look for one with a stopper than makes a fairly airtight seal. This protects from oxygen exposure and keeps the spirit from evaporating into the air. But remember that no decanter can stop time; any whiskey's flavor will start to fade within a year or two after breaking the original bottle seal.
Crystal is a form of glass made with added minerals for extra strength and density. It's heavy, durable, and able to carved into intricate shapes, plus it reflects more light than standard glass for a more sparkly look. Crystal is a classic material for whiskey decanters, but it's quite expensive. In addition, some forms of crystal—especially older ones you might find in vintage decanters—are made with lead and not suitable to use with food and drinks.
Standard glass is cheaper to manufacture and lighter in weight than crystal, but it's also more fragile. A decanter with thin glass walls is more prone to shattering if it bumps against a table or bar top. (When it comes to cleaning, glass is sometimes dishwasher-safe, while crystal rarely is.)
There are also decanters available made from porcelain and other types of ceramic. Clay can be molded into intricate shapes and glazed in all kinds of colors, but it makes for an opaque decanter.
Why do you put whiskey in a decanter?
For looks. Unlike decanting wine, which introduces oxygen to improve taste, texture, and aroma, pouring whiskey into a decanter doesn't affect the flavor. It is solely for presentation.
How long does whiskey last in a decanter?
Because of its high alcohol content, whiskey doesn't exactly "go bad" and become unsafe to drink, even after decades in a decanter. However, exposure to air and light both cause whiskey's flavor to fade over time. No decanter is as airtight as the original seal on the bottle, and even if you store your whiskey in complete darkness, the spirit will have lost most of its vibrance after a year or two in the decanter.
Is there lead in whiskey decanters?
In the past, lead was a common ingredient in crystal because it makes for extra-sparkly material. Most crystal made today is lead-free, but vintage crystal—especially if made more than about 30 years ago—is likely to contain lead. If you're not sure about your decanter, there are cheap and easy-to-use lead tests available to get a final answer.
Alcohol leaches lead out of glass over time, so it's a very bad idea to store whiskey (or any other spirit) in a decanter made from lead crystal for more than a few hours. However, the leaching process happens very slowly; if you only use the decanter to serve whiskey for an evening and then empty it, you should be okay.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ease of use, material, or price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Nicholas McClelland is a passionate whisk(e)y drinker who has written about spirits for Men’s Journal, Fatherly, and InsideHook. His bar is deep with rare single malts, hard-to-find bourbons, and ryes, but he doesn't believe there's anything too precious to share with friends.
The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn updated this roundup. His very first published story as a professional food writer—as an intern at the now-defunct Chow.com—was called "Whiskey 101," and he's been writing about booze ever since. His favorite Scotch is Caol Ila.