Some joys of life are simple and beautiful items that mark little luxuries, and one of those little luxuries is a well-stocked bar cart topped with a stunning crystal decanter set. Like the bar cart itself, choosing to keep and pour whiskey, cognac or brandy in decanter crystal is a stylistic choice that has nothing to do with changing the flavor or profile of the liquor itself.
Once bottled, liquor is a finished product that will not change when it is exposed to air, unlike wine. This means decanting liquor is simply a sign of sophistication and panache. With some insight, understanding decanter types and how to decanter liquor is an easy feat to undertake to elevate your happy hour.
Types of Decanters
There are two main categories of decanter types, though both are made from cut crystal. The first type is for liquor and the second is for wine. Liquor decanters are traditionally square or rectangular and have a stopper to cap off the bottle. Though the seal on the stopper is often looser than the original bottle cap, the minimal air that will pass through the seal will not affect the taste of the liquor within a reasonable time frame of several months.
Today, there are many shapes, colors and designs of decanters from which to choose. Perhaps you prefer a globe or a pyramidal decanter that sits in a base. Whatever decanter you choose should be a reflection of what you like and a style that works well with your interior design.
When wine is exposed to air, it undergoes a chemical reaction known as oxidation, which changes the flavor profile of the wine. This is why wine decanters are round and have an opening to allow air inside the decanter. Allowing the wine to be exposed to the air will help it to "breathe" and reach its full potential.
How to Decanter Liquor
To decanter liquor, begin by thoroughly washing and drying your decanter. There should be no residual water in the vessel. Remove the stopper from the top of the decanter. Next, open the bottle you plan to decanter and carefully pour it into the vessel. Be careful to avoid chipping or breaking the crystal or glass.
If the opening is quite small, use a funnel to pour the liquor into the decanter. Remember to replace the stopper tightly when all of the liquor has been poured into the vessel or when the decanter is full, leaving at least an inch or two at the top.
Serving From a Decanter
To serve from a decanter, prepare the barware or whiskey glass as you or your guests so choose. This could mean adding a chilled whiskey rock with a pair of tongs or adding a splash of water to the bottom of the glass before adding the liquor. Those who drink it neat can simply pour the liquor into the glass.
Whiskey pairs well with orange, so try shaving a bit of orange peel and swipe it around the glass rim to add an aromatic flare to the drinking experience. Another option is to light a bit of wood, such as maple. Make sure the fire is out but that the wood is smoking. Place the glass over the smoking wood and allow it to sit there for a couple of minutes before dispensing the whiskey or bourbon for a nice smoky flavor.
Decanters Are Unsuitable for Whiskey Tastings
If you are planning to hold a whiskey tasting, you likely will not want to decanter your liquor. Those comparing the complexity, notes and flavors of several different whiskey brands will likely want to look at the labels for information. A tasting should include enough glasses for each of the different brands with the bottles displayed for everyone to review.