The look of light refracting through scotch held in a crystal decanter is a vision of gentility. Presenting Whisky in this fashion is conspicuously posh, borderline pretentious but oh-so warm and inviting. Aesthetic statements aside, what is the use of a Scotch decanter? Let’s discuss.
The decanter has a long history that stretches back to Roman times (and depending on who you talk to, decanters were around long before). Originally, a decanter was utilized for wine and served 3 essential purposes:
- Provide an attractive vessel for the dining table
- Let the wine breath
- Separate sediment that had settled in the bottles originally carrying the wine
Eventually, decanters became more artistic in their design and served as an alluring home piece. In the 18th century, an ingenious Brit created “the stopper” which provided a seal for the liquid inside, effectively allowing decanters to keep liquor fresher for a longer duration of time.
Around this time its popularity grew for decanters to start containing spirits, or in this case, Scotch. Previously I alluded to the aesthetic appeal of a Scotch decanter, but there are actually a few interesting reasons why it may be worth acquiring one:
1. Have your friends judge the Scotch by taste – not by brand
Again, I’m going to talk wine for a moment. If you have a spare 3 minutes, check out the below video courtesy of Vox (the online media company that ‘explains the news’… I highly recommend). In short, blind taste testing garners drastically different results than tasting and knowing the brand ahead of time.
If I were to offer you a taste of bottle A, an 18-year old single malt, or bottle B, a blended Whisky at a value price-point, odds are you’d go for bottle A. The interesting thing is, if you remove these prenotions, the blended Whisky may very well come out on top. At your next Whisky gathering, offer up some decanted & unlabeled Scotch as your own social experiment and take note of the results. At the very least, it should offer a few minutes of conversation as you reveal the brand of the decanted spirit.
2. Create your own blends
Have you ever thought about blending Whisky yourself before? Where would you mix it? And then where would you store it? Good luck getting it back in the bottle…
Your decanter is the perfect instrument for adding a splash of a few different Whisky’s to create your own blend. Your grandfathers likely did this without intending to do so as it is significantly challenging to completely rid a decanter of its previous substance.Blending is a dark art and sacrilegious to some of you, but just remember, whatever blend you create is “highly rare” and only exists in one single place – your decanter.
3. Preservation of Scotch
People often forget that Scotch doesn’t last forever. Once a bottle is opened, oxygen will get in there and so begins the process of oxidization which will eventually reduce the quality of your Whisky. The more air, or “head space”, that is in the bottle, the faster the oxidization will occur.
So how can a decanter help you here?
It just so happens that decanters come in all shapes and sizes. Investing in a small decanter (like this one) is a great solution for extending the life of your Whisky currently being stored in a bottle with considerable “head space”. By minimizing the air your Whisky interacts with, you are being a responsible custodian of your inventory and looking quite stylish while doing so.
4. Finite Generosity
Scotch is meant to be shared. It’s another motto we’ve come to know here on the Scotch Journal. But sometimes, guests can carry an unquenchable thirst… especially if your malt is singular and old enough to legally drive. So here’s a tip for maintaining stock control while remaining socially affable, keep your well out of sight and let only the decanter serve Whisky to your guests. As far as they know, once the decanter is gone, so is the Scotch (which is also a classic escape plan from a sub-par evening). Remember, controlling your inventory is key – it’s a lot less awkward to point to an empty decanter than kindly request your party guest to stop pouring a 5 oz. to-go cup of your finest dram.
5. To reiterate… Aesthetic Appeal
There are some seriously beautiful decanters. There’s a reason they’ve been in homes for centuries. And if you have a great Whisky set-up, a decanter could be that final piece to make it perfect. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite decanters that I have come across: