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Do You Put Bourbon In A Decanter? Pro Tips (2024 Updated)

Do You Put Bourbon In A Decanter

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Putting bourbon in a decanter is a great way to display the clarity of the liquor and boost your home bar experience. However, decanting might affect the quality of your bourbon, especially if you have to open the decanter every so often. 

So, do you put bourbon in a decanter or just leave it be? Let’s find out. 

Should You Put Bourbon In A Decanter?

Whiskey Decanter

It depends. Putting bourbon in a decanter won’t do much to improve the flavor. Rather, the quality will start to degrade due to oxidation, especially if you already had quite a few sips.

It’s all about the appearance and experience, really.

Since most bourbon is stored in dark-colored bottles, using a decanter will give you and your guests a chance to appreciate the texture and color of the spirit.   

Unlike bourbon, wines should be aerated to enhance their flavor [1]. We use decanters for wines to let the wine breathe and to remove any sediments. This softens the tannins to make wine more pleasant to drink.

Such is not the case for bourbon since it has little to no tannins.

Does Bourbon Go Bad When Put In A Decanter?

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

In terms of safety or spoilage, bourbon won’t go bad when put in a decanter as long as it has an airtight seal. However, the flavor and quality tend to degrade due to factors like exposure to air, temperature, and where it’s stored. 

If you open the decanter very often, you expose the bourbon to more air, causing the alcohol to oxidize faster. In situations like this, you can keep the bourbon overnight but make sure to consume it the following day.

When Should You Put It?

If you’re inviting friends over and you’re sure to drink the entire bottle of bourbon overnight, you can transfer it to a decanter. Decanters will make your bourbon look stylish and would most likely improve the perceived value of the bourbon.

It may be a phony move, but sometimes, you just want your guests to focus on the character of the liquor rather than the brand.

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How Long Do You Put Bourbon In A Decanter?

Jim Beam Decanter, Do you put bourbon in a decanter?

You can store bourbon in a decanter for two to six months depending on the environmental conditions, how often the decanter is opened, the amount of alcohol in the bottle, where it’s stored, and if the decanter has an airtight seal or not.

If there’s no airtight seal, the alcohol might oxidize faster, affecting the quality and flavor of the bourbon.

Bourbon shouldn’t also be stored in lead crystal decanters as the lead might leach into the bourbon, making it unsafe to drink.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does bourbon last in a decanter?

Bourbon can last up to six months in a decanter as long as the seal is airtight. But you have to remember that you are dissipating the bourbon’s odors and flavors each time you let fresh air into the decanter. 

Do you put bourbon in a decanter to enhance its flavor?

No, you do not store bourbon in a decanter to enhance its flavors. Bourbon stops aging as soon as it goes out of the barrel. 

Why put bourbon in a decanter?

Putting bourbon in a decanter serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. From a practical standpoint, transferring bourbon to a decanter can enhance aeration and allow the whiskey to breathe, potentially influencing its flavor profile over time. Aesthetically, decanters offer an elegant and visually appealing way to display and serve bourbon, adding a touch of sophistication to the drinking experience.

Does bourbon stay good in a decanter?

Bourbon can stay good in a decanter for a certain period, but the timeframe depends on various factors. While a decanter can enhance the bourbon’s presentation and offer some aeration benefits, it’s essential to consider the potential impact of prolonged exposure to air on the whiskey. If not consumed within a reasonable time, the whiskey in the decanter may experience changes in flavor due to oxidation.

Is it OK to put whiskey in a decanter?

Yes, it is okay to put whiskey in a decanter, and many enthusiasts choose to do so for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Decanters can be made from materials like glass or crystal, which are inert and won’t impart flavors to the whiskey. Additionally, decanters often feature airtight seals that can help preserve the whiskey’s integrity, although it’s important to consume the whiskey within a reasonable timeframe to prevent significant changes in taste due to oxidation.

What type of whiskey do you put in a decanter?

The type of whiskey you put in a decanter depends on personal preference and the intended use. Decanters are suitable for various types of whiskey, including bourbon, Scotch, rye, and more. High-quality and aged whiskies, where the presentation and aeration benefits of a decanter can be appreciated, are popular choices. It’s essential to choose a whiskey that aligns with your taste preferences and intended occasion, whether it’s a daily dram or a special bottle reserved for display and occasional indulgence.

Does bourbon need to breathe?

While some spirits benefit from aeration, allowing their flavors to develop and mellow over time, bourbon, being a robust and full-bodied whiskey, doesn’t necessarily need to breathe as much as lighter spirits. However, allowing bourbon to interact with air, especially in a glass before sipping, can subtly enhance its aromas and flavors, making the experience more enjoyable for some drinkers.

What alcohol goes in a decanter?

A variety of high-quality spirits can be stored in a decanter, including whiskey, bourbon, Scotch, brandy, and even certain types of rum. The decision on which alcohol to place in a decanter depends on personal preference, the intended aesthetic, and the characteristics of the specific spirit, as decanters are often chosen for their ability to enhance the presentation and sometimes aerate the chosen beverage.

How long can bourbon sit in a decanter?

Bourbon can sit in a decanter for a limited period, typically ranging from a few weeks to a few months, before potential changes in flavor due to oxidation become noticeable. The time can vary based on factors like the type of decanter, the seal, and the specific characteristics of the bourbon. To preserve the integrity of the bourbon, it’s advisable to consume it within a reasonable timeframe or transfer it back to its original bottle for longer-term storage.

What is the proper way to store bourbon?

Storing bourbon properly is crucial for maintaining its quality. Keep bourbon bottles upright to prevent the cork from drying out and to minimize oxidation. Store the bottles in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations. Extreme heat or cold can affect the flavor and consistency of the bourbon. Additionally, sealing the bottle tightly after each use helps slow down oxidation. While a decanter can be used for short-term storage and presentation, for longer-term storage, it’s recommended to keep bourbon in its original, well-sealed bottle to minimize air exposure and maintain its original characteristics.

Should you keep whiskey in bottle or decanter?

Whether you should keep whiskey in the original bottle or a decanter depends on your preferences and the intended use. Storing whiskey in its original bottle is practical for long-term preservation, preventing excessive exposure to air. Decanters, on the other hand, are often used for short-term storage, serving, and aesthetic presentation, allowing the whiskey to be displayed and poured with elegance.

Can you put Jack Daniels in a decanter?

Yes, you can put Jack Daniel’s or any other whiskey, including bourbon, in a decanter. Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey, not a bourbon, but it can still benefit from short-term storage in a decanter for presentation purposes. However, for longer-term storage, especially if the decanter is not airtight, it’s advisable to transfer the whiskey back to its original bottle to minimize oxidation.

What is the difference between whiskey and bourbon?

The primary difference between whiskey and bourbon lies in their production requirements. Bourbon is a type of whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. For a whiskey to be labeled as bourbon, it must meet specific criteria, including being made in the United States, having a mash bill with at least 51% corn, and aging in new charred oak barrels. While all bourbons are whiskey, not all whiskeys meet the criteria to be considered bourbon.

How do you clean a bourbon decanter?

Cleaning a bourbon decanter involves careful steps to maintain its integrity. Start by rinsing the decanter with warm water to remove any residual whiskey. Use a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water to clean the interior, using a bottle brush or decanter-cleaning beads if necessary. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the glass. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove any soap residue, and allow the decanter to air dry upside down. To prevent clouding or staining, avoid using a dishwasher, and ensure the decanter is completely dry before storing or using it again. Regular, gentle cleaning will help preserve the appearance and taste of the bourbon decanter over time.

Key Takeaways

You put bourbon in a decanter for style rather than purpose. It’s a great way to display bourbon for everyone to appreciate the color and texture. It also allows you to hide the brand so everyone can enjoy different bourbon flavor profiles regardless of labels.

We recommend transferring your bourbon into a decanter only if you plan to consume it in one sitting or overnight. But as long as you won’t store bourbon in a lead crystal decanter, it’s safe to keep it in for around six months.


  1. Why Aerate Wine? Science Behind Letting Wine Breathe
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