This Is What Happens When You Store Whiskey In A Decanter

Whiskey poured from a fancy decanter just seems so high-toned, doesn't it? Nothing says elegance like a scene where stylish, beautiful couples, perhaps dressed in vintage Mad Men-era early '60s haute couture, sit around their swanky penthouse smoking Cuban cigars while sipping neat whiskey decanted from Baccarat crystal. Basically, decanting your whiskey sure looks sophisticated.

Does it actually do anything for the whiskey, though? While we know there are reasons why some experts recommend decanting wine — removing sediment and encouraging oxidation, according to VinePair — are there similar reasons why decanting whiskey is something everybody should be doing? No, not really.

Why it's ok to leave your whiskey in the bottle

VinePair explains that whiskey, unlike wine, does not really change much when it is exposed to oxygen — for better or for worse. Although it will oxidize, at least in a bottle that's been opened, this change will happen very slowly due to the fact that whiskey has a much higher alcohol content than wine, and alcohol inhibits oxidation.

Whiskey also has very few tannins, so only trace amounts as are picked up from the barrels in which it is aged. Tannins, which wine is quite high in, are something that can lead to changes over time. Whiskey, lacking tannins, is more or less a finished product once it's been bottled, as its character won't change much as it ages.

Whiskey can undergo chemical changes if it is exposed to too much sunlight or drastically fluctuating temperatures, but for the most part, the shot of whiskey you pour when your bottle's first opened will taste much the same as the last shot — and all the ones in between. Should you transfer your whiskey into a decanter, the same thing applies — no change in taste.

The difference between wine and whiskey decanters

If you look at the different types of decanters side by side, you'll notice some obvious differences. Wine decanters may have some kind of complicated business going on at the front end, meant to encourage more air to get into the wine. Whiskey decanters, on the other hand, are just there to look pretty (and not tip over, since spilling good whiskey is not cool). They also, unlike wine decanters, have caps, since encouraging oxidation is not a factor — and since you should probably be taking a lot longer to get through a bottle of whiskey than you would a bottle of wine, even if you do enjoy a wee bit every night for medicinal purposes.

So is there any real reason you should decant your whiskey? Only an aesthetic one. If you want to look suave and debonair, and you have, or wish to acquire, a decorative decanter, then by all means, decant to your heart's content. If you don't wish to be bothered with such fripperies, however, you may rest assured that you're not doing your whiskey any harm by letting it remain bottled.