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For whiskey drinkers, the ceremony of the cocktail hour is sacred. Pouring a dram to mark the waning of another brave day sinking into the night is a ritual that celebrates what you have accomplished in those precious hours and the promise of tomorrow.
Much like a nice glass, 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, here are the best decanters that you can be proud to put on your bar.
Best Overall: Bormioli Rocco Whiskey Decanter Set
This decanter set from renowned glassware company Bormioli Rocco makes a beautiful starter collection for the amateur drinker and elegant addition to any home bar for the seasoned connoisseur. For less than a nice bottle of bourbon, you get a gorgeous diamond-cut decanter with a 33.75-ounce capacity and airtight lid to keep your booze fresher for longer. You also get six matching 9.5-ounce tumblers, each with a sturdy, heavy base.
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.
Best Classic Design: Waterford Crystal Lismore Diamond Decanter
An update to a classic from the venerable Irish maker, the Waterford Lismore Diamond Decanter is a beautiful piece that's perfect for whiskey. Cut from fine crystal, the diamond pattern sparkles will give your spirit’s color an added pop—but don’t dare put it in the dishwasher. This one is hand wash only. At 6 inches in diameter and 11 inches tall, this decanter is a nice size, though it does clock in at over 6 pounds, so you’ll want to have a steady grip when you pour a drink.
Best Large Format: LSA International Bar Spirits Decanter
If you want to fill a decanter and not worry about topping it off for a bit, this 60-ounce version from LSA International is big enough to hold 1.75 liters of whiskey—also known as a handle. Made from handblown glass with thick walls, it’s not quite as heavy as crystal, which is good since the weight of the additional spirit will add to the heft when pouring a dram. The simple and crisp, handmade design standing 10.24 inches tall and roughly 5 inches wide will look great on any bar.
Best Splurge: Baccarat Harmonie Round Whiskey Decanter
Baccarat is one of the finest makers of crystal on the planet. Synonymous with high-end luxury, the French maker produces a number of stunning decanters, but Harmonie stands out for the whiskey connoisseur. Vertical stripes give the vessel texture and depth, while a large stopper that, when paired with the decanter’s mouth, takes on the look of a top hat. Altogether, the piece stands 12.6 inches tall and will hold a full 750-milliliter bottle of any whiskey you choose.
Best Conversation Starter: Williams Sonoma Shade Skull Decanter
For whiskey drinkers with a penchant for goth, this Shade Skull Decanter from Williams Sonoma is sure to add personality to any bar. Certainly, the highlight of this piece is the modern, skull-shaped stopper, but the decanter is also made from lead-free crystal for clarity and brightness. It's a substantial bottle at 5 inches wide and 11.5 inches tall, boasting a 1,200-milliliter capacity, which is plenty enough to hold a full bottle of whiskey and then some. So, you can whip up a large batch of brooding cocktails, and since it’s dishwasher safe, you can pop your decanter right into the machine when it's empty.
Best Gift: Jonathan Adler Whiskey Rocket Decanter
When the cocktail hour can’t start fast enough, it’s time to hop on a rocket. The Jonathan Adler Rocket Decanter will bring a smile to even the most cynical whiskey drinker’s face. This showpiece is crafted from white porcelain with the name of the spirit printed vertically down the fuselage and is adorned with 16-karat gold detailing. A 42.3-ounce capacity can handle more than a standard bottle, and a working gasket prevents the alcohol from evaporating into space.
Best Set: Ravenscroft Crystal Taylor 5-Piece Whiskey Decanter Set
This decanter and four glasses complete a stunning set at a lovely value. Handmade in Poland from lead-free crystal, all five pieces feature a mouth-blown bubble in their bases. The decanter itself has a 35-ounce capacity, more than ample to hold a full bottle of Scotch, bourbon, or rye. Size-wise, the decanter is 10.5 inches tall with a 5-inch diameter, while the old-fashioned glasses are 4 x 3.25 inches—perfect for a nice pour of your favorite whiskey or hefty cocktail with ice. Plus, you can have it engraved with your initials if that fits your personal aesthetic.
What to Look for in a Whiskey Decanter
For the occasional whiskey drinker, a decanter that holds a 750-milliliter bottle of whiskey might be enough; otherwise, there are decanters with large capacity, holding up to a handle of whiskey (1.75 liters).
A whiskey stopper needs to be more than attractive. It needs to create a seal that is as airtight as possible to keep the whiskey fresh and prevent the spirit from evaporating.
Crystal decanters are classic and stylish, but they can be quite heavy. Handblown glass or porcelain is a lightweight alternative.
If convenient cleaning is important to you, choose a dishwasher safe decanter that does not require handwashing.
If you don’t already own tumblers, or for a well-rounded gift, consider a decanter set that comes with glasses (usually four).
Why do you put whiskey in a decanter?
Unlike decanting wine to introduce oxygen to improve flavor, texture, and aroma, decanting whiskey has no functional purpose. It is solely for presentation.
How long does whiskey last in a decanter?
The opinions of whiskey aficionados on this topic vary, ranging from leaving the whiskey in the decanter only overnight to two months maximum. Whiskey should not be decanted for more than a few hours in a decanter made of lead crystal, as the lead leaches into the liquor over time.
Is there lead in whiskey decanters?
It depends on whether it’s lead free or lead crystal. Most crystal decanters are lead free these days, but some manufacturers still use lead oxide to give the crystal more heft.
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.