The effect of crystal whiskey glasses and decanters on the quality and taste of whiskey has been the subject of debate among alcohol enthusiasts for quite a while now. No one has come up with a definitive answer other than “yes and no”, partly because quality is subjective.
It has been established that, unlike wine which improves as it ages, the taste of whiskey doesn’t change that much when exposed to oxygen or stored in a different container. If there is some kind of chemical improvement, it would be very subtle to the point of being almost indistinguishable.
The Case for Crystal Whiskey Glasses
Those shiny crystal whiskey glasses that people use for tasting are quite helpful in terms of enhancing the “experience” of drinking whiskey. Just to be clear, it doesn’t change anything in the drink. There’s just a significant sensory improvement when you drink from a properly-shaped glass that is wide enough for whiskey to breathe and allow for a pleasant and ‘neat’ swirling experience.
Even those old-fashioned crystal whiskey glasses can do the trick as they are usually designed to make your senses more accessible to the flavor and scent. Plus, they’re always big enough to hold oversized ice cubes if you like your whiskey on the rocks.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to buy crystal whiskey glasses, make sure it’s a lead-free glass. Lead is a chemical that can leach into the whiskey over time and is known to be very dangerous.
Do you like smoking cigars while drinking whiskey? Then you’re probably going to love this glass.
The Case for Whiskey Decanters
Decanters for wine have a functional purpose. They allow the wine to come into contact with air, which is important and beneficial as it enhances a wine’s flavors and softens it while releasing some of the aromas that have been trapped in the bottle for many years. In short, you can never make any wine worse if you transfer it into a decanter.
Whiskey decanters, on the other hand, are more decorative than functional. You don’t need to “open up” whiskey or pour it into another storage container, especially if you’re not going to consume it in the next 8 hours. Keeping a whiskey decanter airtight is important, but then again, using a decanter isn’t a necessity in the first place if we’re talking about quality.
A decanter does look very good on your bar counter, doesn’t it? Some people like having a different, more sophisticated-looking container on display rather than showing the actual brand of the drink. If your purpose is to store whiskey in a prettier crystal container, then decanters can be your best friend.
Want to delve deeper into the art of making, tasting, and enhancing whiskey? Check out this Best Whiskey Books: Buying Guide and Review.
If you sum up all the information about crystal whiskey glasses and their effect on whiskey, the most likely verdict is that it all boils down to aesthetics and presentation, not the flavor. But if your objective is to enhance the feel of the drinking experience, then go for a whiskey glass or a decanter that does exactly that.
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