Here's How Long Your Whiskey Will Last In A Decanter

A whiskey decanter is a great way to bring class to your home bar or bourbon collection. Instead of looking like you're picking bottles off the liquor store shelves when you get home, you get to crack open a quality piece of crystal that's built to showcase the deep ambers and golden hues of your favorite sipper. But while decanters are an excellent addition to your living room, they do come with some small additional storage needs – namely, you'll want to keep track of how long your whiskey has been sitting in there.

On the bright side, storing whiskey in a decanter isn't all that different from storing whiskey in a bottle. The primary factor you need to be paying attention to when storing whiskey in either case is how much interaction the liquid has with the air. The amount of whiskey left in the bottle matters because the less whiskey there is left, the more air has floated in to take its place. More air means a greater rate of oxidation, which is the reason your whiskey goes bad.

There's one big difference between the bottle and the decanter, though, and that's what happens when you first fill it. As you pour the bottle out and into the empty decanter, the whiskey is going to swirl around. This creates a lot of play between the whiskey and the air, essentially kickstarting the oxidation process from the start. For this reason, whiskey only lasts around three months in a decanter.

To decant or not to decant your whiskey

If you're careful about how you fill the decanter, don't open it up very often, and leave it nearly full, you can drag those three months out to as long as three years – but you shouldn't bank on having a full three years of storage. If you're planning on keeping your whiskey on the shelf for a long time, it's probably better to simply leave it in the bottle. Whiskey decanters are better suited for something that you drink regularly and won't have trouble finishing before those three months are up. No need to throw away the whiskey after three months, just keep in mind that its flavor will start to noticeably deteriorate by that point.

Another thing to keep in mind is that whiskey decanters are not the same as wine decanters. They share the same name, but that's where the similarities end. Wine decanters are designed to aerate the wine quickly, essentially rushing the oxidation process so that the wine can breathe before you take a sip. But we don't drink wine the same way we drink whiskey. A wine decanter can comfortably hold roughly five glasses of wine, which is easily finished in one night with a group. A whiskey decanter holds roughly 25 fluid ounces and, since a traditional serving size is 1.5 ounces, that means you have a hefty 16 servings in there. You'll want to decide which whiskey you want to store in your decanter with this in mind.