Decanting is a familiar process that you do with wine. Doing so would help all the great flavors and aromas to be released from the wine so drinkers can enjoy it to its fullest potential. Apparently, wine is not the only beverage that can be decanted. Whiskey, of different forms, is perhaps the most well-known liquor that is stored in a decanter. You can see it in the movies, where usually a rich businessman opens a gorgeous glass of golden whiskey and pours it into a matching short, wide glass. But, does it serve the same purpose as the wine decanter? Keep reading and find out.
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What is a Whiskey Decanter?
Basically, a whiskey decanter is a vessel with a stopper used to store and serve your whiskey or bourbon. It is usually square-cut with intricate etchings that make it look sophisticated. They are either made of glass or crystal. Crystal whiskey decanters add a gorgeous sparkle that accentuates the amber color of the whiskey but there have been notions that lead in the crystal is quite hazardous to the health. Nowadays, decanters made from glass or lead-free crystal are preferred. If you buy a decanter, it usually comes with matching whiskey glasses to complete the look of the set.
What is Wine Decanter?
Decanters are actually made for wine. Ever since wine was invented, the process of wine decanting soon followed in the pursuit of finding out the best way to highlight and enhance the wine’s flavors. Wine decanters come in various elaborate designs and shapes and have no stoppers. There are two things that a wine decanter is supposed to do: separating the sediments from the wine and introducing air to the wine to let it breathe and open up the flavors and aromas.
So, How Do They Differ From One Another?
By the names, you can easily distinguish both decanters because they are intended for the specific drink for which they are named. But, there’s so much more than this especially when it comes to the purpose. So here are the differences between the whiskey decanter and the wine decanter:
Size and Weight
When it comes to whiskey decanters, they are smaller in size compared to wine decanters. You drink whiskey in little amounts only so with this, a decanter that has a smaller capacity is understandable. They often have a capacity of 25 ounces, the standard bottle of whiskey. Moreover, the decanter is filled up three quarters of the way or full because it doesn’t need air for the flavors to be enhanced. In fact, air does not improve or open up the liquor’s aromas and flavors because it is pretty much a finished product already the moment it was bottled to the time it is transferred in the decanter. Whiskey decanters also tend to be heavier because they are built for stability and it could also depend on the material it is made of. Those that are made from the crystal will be denser than those made from glass.
In the case of wine decanter, they are designed to have a bigger capacity to give room for the air to interact with the wine. Usually, when a whole bottle of wine is transferred into a decanter, it will only be half full. They are also usually made from glass rather than crystal because crystal contains lead. The wine stays in the decanter for some time and so, lead can leach into the wine which could ruin its taste and may be harmful. Since they are bigger, making them with crystal would just result in them being more expensive. Wine decanters need to be light but durable so they can be carried and lifted around tables without a struggle.
Wine decanters have numerous and fabulous shapes. Some are simple but others can be really complex. Whatever the shape, they are guaranteed to be elegant and help in highlighting the quality of the wine. If you want to take a glimpse of some of the wine decanter shapes, check this article out, it will also give you pointers should you decide to buy one.
Most whiskey decanters are square cut with intricate etchings including the stopper. Others have a smooth surface that is great for showing off the great caramel-like color of the liquor. If they are not square cut, they take the form of an item such as a globe or a diamond. No matter the shape, they roughly have the same size. Take help from this article if you want to purchase a whiskey decanter.
Wine is a delicate drink. It’s one of those things that go better with time. A wine decanter is one of the tools that can help the wine create a better flavor profile. When wine is transferred from the bottle to the decanter, the sediments will remain in the bottle and so the decanted wine is already smooth and sediment-free. If you want to learn how and when to properly use a wine decanter, visit this article. Additionally, a more important purpose is to encourage air to the wine as this can have a huge effect on the wine’s taste and smell.
Whiskey, on the other hand, does not have all those processes needed to attain a better-tasting drink. So, whiskey decanters are mainly for aesthetics purposes. No doubt, when whiskey is stored in a decanter, the liquor has a heightened vibe or look that entices people and makes them feel sophisticated.
Wine needs air, right? So, they have no need for a stopper or a cap. In contrast, they need to have a wide mouth to introduce as much air as possible to get the decanting process working and be effective and transforming the wine into a divine liquid. The same cannot be said for whiskey. It doesn’t need air because it is already as delicious as it is. Whiskey can still oxidize but slower than the wine and will hardly do anything to improve it so it’s better off with a stopper. Besides, it serves more of storage rather than preparation and you can’t be expected to finish the whiskey in one sitting. So, stoppers also serve as protection from any unwanted particles like dust that may get into the decanter and be incorporated into the liquor.
Effect on the drink
Two huge factors that go along the oxidation are alcohol content and tannins. Tannins are organic compounds present in the fruit, wood and leaves of plants and trees including barley, nuts, berries, spices, dark chocolate, tea, oak and grapes. They are responsible for making a drink taste bitter and astringent. Grapes, the main ingredient for wine, happen to have tannins in the skin, stem and seeds which normally would result in high tannin content. Whiskey also has traces of tannins given the fact that whiskey is aged in oak barrels but not as much as wine. Tannins have a huge impact on wine in the sense that it can produce a dry sensation in the mouth. But, with the help of decanting, those unpleasant flavors can be mellowed out and can ultimately make the wine taste better by way of aeration. Since whiskey has lower tannins, the flavors are retained since its removal from the barrels.
Conversely, wine has a lower alcohol content with only an average of 12% whereas whiskey has a minimum of 40%. Basically, when a liquor has a higher alcohol content, they are resistant to change in their composition and taste. That is why decanting doesn’t do much to the whiskey but can greatly affect the wine in terms of flavor and smell. However, this doesn’t mean that whiskey has a permanent flavor profile. There are still factors that can change its taste in a bad way, especially whilst in a decanter and you can learn all about it right here.
Wine is often served at dinners or parties with a lot of people. So, normally, a decanted bottle of wine can be easily finished in one event especially since the standard serving of wine is 5 ounces. Compared to the whiskey, since it is stronger, a standard serving of it is only 1.5 ounces, so it will be in your decanter for a longer time. Whiskey is also more suitable as a drink you have to yourself or with a couple of friends or colleagues during a casual gathering.
There you have it, folks. When you think about wine decanters, just remember that they are used not just for holding wine but also for preparing the wine before they are served. The main purpose is to allow the wine to open up its flavors and aromas with oxygen. The wine’s composition is also a factor in making the change happen. Whiskey decanters are mainly for looks because its composition is pretty much stable already making it less susceptible to change. They also have a number of differences and based on the looks alone, they are pretty much distinguishable.
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