How Long Can Whiskey Stay In A Decanter? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

There’s always scotch whiskey,  gold tequila, wine, dark rum, and other spirits in crystal decanters in one or a couple of movies we’ve seen. It’s aesthetically pleasing. A stylish decanter is also a perfect way to show the clarity of the spirits.

However, it makes one wonder if decanting whiskey makes the whiskey go bad. So how long can whiskey stay in a decanter?

How Long Can You Store Whiskey In A Decanter?

Whiskey Decanter

Whiskeys stored in the decanter can last between two months to three years, depending on how much alcohol there is in the lead-free decanter.

Other factors that can make the shelf life of whiskey longer in the decanter are temperature fluctuations, humidity, light, and if the decanter has an airtight seal. 

Unopened bottles of whiskey can last for a hundred years if stored properly. While these spirits don’t spoil or become unsafe to drink, oxidation changes the flavor profile over time.

Decanter Storage Tips


You expose the spirits to air once whiskey bottles are opened and transferred to a decanter. Exposure to air is the largest factor in making the alcohol stale.

While oxygen won’t spoil a full decanter immediately, degradation will be faster than if you kept the liquor in the original bottle.


Store liquor in an airtight decanter to make the whiskey maintain its integrity. Unopened whiskey in a decanter will last just as long as it would in the original glass alcohol container or bottle.

Ensure that your decanters have an airtight stopper, or else the alcohol will slowly evaporate and oxidize. 

5 Factors That Affect Its Life Span

5 Factors That Affect Its Life Span

1. Decanter Type & Features

If the decanter has an airtight seal, the whiskey in a decanter can last for a minimum of two years. It’s also important not to put the whiskey into leaded crystal decanters because it can leach lead in the whisky over time. 

It can cause lead poisoning, which occurs when lead build-up in the body, often over months or years. Small amounts of lead are detrimental to a person’s health [1].

2. Amount of Alcohol

Glenlivet with Whiskey Decanter

The more air present in the decanter, the faster the whiskey in the decanter will oxidize. If the whiskey decanters have less than half alcohol, then the dissipation of the whiskey will increase.

It’s best to transfer the liquor in a small decanter so that the liquor will fill almost to the top.

3. How Long It’s Been Stored

Unlike a bottle of wine, whiskey doesn’t get better with time. It stops aging as soon as it’s transferred into a whiskey bottle.

Once you open a bottle of liquor and transfer it to the decanter, it’s exposed to environmental conditions that might affect its quality and taste.

Read: Should You Put Bourbon In A Decanter?

4. Number Of Times Its Opened

Globe Whiskey Decanter

You expose the whiskey to air the more you open the decanter. Exposing it to oxygen will deteriorate the quality of the whiskey due to oxidation.

So, if you want to transfer your liquor into the decanter, you can keep whiskey in a decanter overnight but consume it the next day. 

Meanwhile, annexing red wine into a carafe or crystal bottle allows the wine to open up. The wine reacts with air and allows the wine to change and improve its taste.

If you’re asking, does whiskey work that way, it doesn’t. But what’s good to mix with whiskey?

5. Position & Environmental Conditions

Keep the decanter away from light and in a room with a cool temperature to maintain the integrity of the whiskey.

Don’t leave whiskey decanter in places with frequent temperature changes, like on the top of a refrigerator. Also, don’t leave whiskey in areas with high humidity. 

Read: Whiskey Proof Explained

4 Factors That Might Spoil It In A Decanter

4 Factors That Might Spoil It In A Decanter

1. Direct Exposure To Sunlight

Keep the decanter where there is no direct sunlight to keep the whiskey’s character for longer. The ultraviolet light reacts with tannins in the whiskey, which results in unpleasant aromas and a change in the whiskey taste

If exposed to direct sunlight daily, bourbon, for example, will develop a flavor like paint thinner, plastic, and rubber balloon. It’s best to keep whiskey in the dark place. 

2. Exposure To Air

Whiskey Bottles with Decanter

If there’s a lot of headspace in the decanter, more oxygen is introduced to the decanters, and it oxidizes the remaining whiskey.

The alcohol is lighter than the water, which causes the volatiles to evaporate faster. This results in aroma and flavor molecules loss. 

3. Moisture

High humidity exposure causes alcohol to evaporate faster. When there’s moisture, it deteriorates the liquor’s quality and shelf life. It’s best to control the moisture in the room where your whiskey is stored. 

Store whiskey in a room with humidity levels between 50% to 70%.

Read: What’s the Best Bourbon Decanter?

4. Fluctuating Temperature

A glass of whiskey

While oxidation takes place slowly because of the high alcohol levels, it can rapidly increase the whiskey’s expiration faster when the temperature fluctuates.

The frequent change in the temperature changes the composition of the whiskey, affecting its flavor or alcohol content. 

It’s best to place the decanter in a room with temperatures between 59°F and 68°F.


How long can you keep leftover whiskey in a decanter?

You can keep leftover whiskey in a decanter for years as long as the whiskey decanter has an airtight decanter seal. 

Is it safe to keep whiskey in a lead crystal decanter?

No, it’s not safe to keep whiskey in a lead crystal decanter. Lead oxide gives a glass special brilliance and durability. However, lead is toxic and harmful to your health.

When the whiskey is placed in a whiskey decanter for longer periods, the lead from the decanter will slowly dissolve into the whiskey, increasing the possibility of lead poisoning.

In Summary

Whiskeys can last for years provided that it is properly stored and the decanter seal is effective. However, you can’t assure that it will have the same quality as a newly opened bottle of whiskey.

If you’re wondering how long can you keep the whiskey in a decanter, it depends on the whiskey storage.

If you’re asking, “does whiskey age in a bottle like wine,” the answer is “No.” Decanting has an actual function in wine.

In whiskey, the primary reason to decant whiskey is mostly for aesthetic purposes. Glass decanters add a nice look to your liquor cabinet or bar. 

Storing whiskey in decanters can also be used to hide whiskey labels. If there’s whiskey tasting, it allows people to enjoy the drink without knowing its value beforehand.



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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