Do You Put Bourbon In A Decanter? Pro Tips (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 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

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.


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. 

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.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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