Should a Decanter Be Airtight?

Liquor decanters are a stylish way to store or serve liquor. They come in a variety of shapes and styles to suit any taste, yet some features are useful depending on what you’re going to put inside. If you’re looking to purchase a decanter, you may be wondering if an airtight seal is necessary. 

A decanter should be airtight if you plan to store the liquor in the decanter. If you’re only using a decanter for aesthetic and immediate serving purposes, an airtight seal is unnecessary. Airtight decanters can be used to replace an original container for long-term storage.

The rest of this article describes when you need an airtight decanter, the purpose of using a decanter, how long you can keep liquor in a decanter, and a guide to the best decanting techniques based on the liquor you plan on keeping inside. Keep reading if you want to give your home bar a major upgrade!

airtight decanter

When to Use an Airtight Decanter

An airtight decanter has an airtight seal that is beneficial for storage, as it offers the same protection and storage properties as the original liquor bottle.

Suppose you want to preserve the quality of liquor. In that case, you need to minimize oxygen as much as you can, as oxygen interacting with liquor can influence the drink’s flavor and integrity.

Having an airtight seal on your decanter will minimize the amount of oxygen that gets through to the liquid inside. In this way, you can store and present your liquor stylishly while maintaining quality.

How Long To Keep Liquor in a Decanter

If you’re using an airtight decanter, the spirits last an equal amount of time as in the original container. Uncorked wine will only last a few days, but spirits can last for years. 

If the stopper doesn’t seal airtight, the spirits will evaporate. However, you can still store spirits in these kinds of decanters for a few months. If your decanter has no stopper whatsoever, it’s advised to only pour the amount you plan to drink. 

Also, be sure to keep the decanter out of direct sunlight and any heat sources, as heat can disturb the alcohol and impact freshness. The best place is inside a cabinet or cupboard.

The Purpose of a Decanter

The primary purpose of a liquor decanter is its appearance and style. A nice decanter also shows off the clarity of the spirit inside. In some instances, decanting liquor opens up the flavor.

Notably, if you’re strictly using a decanter for aesthetic purposes and are only pouring the amount you plan to use that day or that evening, an airtight seal is not necessary.

For alcohol such as whiskey, the main reason for using a decanter is to make the presentation of the liquor more polished and upscale.

Using a decanter instead of pouring from the bottle is similar in concept to a barista giving you a small pitcher of milk to use instead of handing you the carton. Using a decanter is more aesthetically pleasing, which can improve the overall experience of drinking.

There are a wide variety of decanters at many price points, and in a myriad of designs, so you can get a decanter that matches your style and interests.

If you like more classic decanter designs, I recommend the Maketh The Man Whiskey Decanter Set (available on I like the European design of these decanters and that the tumblers are large enough to add water or ice to whatever alcohol is inside.

Another reason to serve liquor in a decanter is to show off the color of the liquid inside. Many liquor bottles are opaque or have some colored glass that warps the true tint of the liquor, whereas if you transfer the liquid to a decanter, everyone can appreciate the color and texture.

In some circumstances, decanting liquor can influence the flavor of the alcohol inside. This is most common with red wine. Exposing red wine to oxygen helps open up the flavor, so the act of pouring the wine into a decanter exposes it to this oxygen. Additionally, keeping wine in an unsealed decanter allows it to breathe even more.

Some claim that decanting certain kinds of whiskey, gin, and tequila can also influence the flavor of these spirits. However, it’s important to note that the difference is subtle.

Another reason to transfer alcohol from its original bottle to a decanter is to separate the liquor from whatever sediment may be in the bottle. Notably, bottle sediment is more common with wine than with spirits, especially locally made bottled wines.

non airtight decanter

A Decanting Guide

Your options for liquor decanters are endless. You can get a large or small size, with a round, square, or crystal shape, made with glass, crystal, wood, or steel. When shopping for decanters, it’s best to consider your style, the decanter’s purpose, and the type of liquid you’re putting inside, but ultimately, the choice is up to you.

However, here are some suggestions based on what kind of liquor you plan on keeping inside:

  • Gin. The best decanters for gin are made of glass and have smooth surfaces. This smooth surface will allow you to pick up on any blue or golden hues in the gin.
  • White wine. Decanting white wine isn’t necessary, but it does help release the aromas and create a pleasant drinking experience. White wine decanters should be small and chilled.
  • Rose. Rose should be decanted similarly to white wine in a small chilled decanter. It also shouldn’t be poured into the decanter more than five minutes before drinking.
  • Light-bodied red wine. Light-bodied reds, such as Pinot Noir, should be poured in a small to medium-sized decanter 15-30 minutes before drinking.
  • Medium-bodied red wine. Medium-bodied red wine, such as Merlot, should be poured 30-60 minutes before serving in a medium-sized decanter.
  • Full-bodied red wine. A full-bodied wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon, is best in a large wine decanter, poured 1-2 hours before drinking.
  • Whiskey and rum. Whiskey and rum are best in a thick, lead-free crystal decanter with a solid base. The crystal helps the liquor cool for longer preservation, and the crystal looks nice for presentation. A solid base helps keep the decanter stable and from tipping over.

Related Article: Do You Aerate Rose or White Wines?

Final Thoughts on Airtight Decanters

Decanters are great for functional storage purposes and for adding personal flair and style to your at-home bar or liquor cart. However, if you plan on storing liquor in a decanter for more than a few days, it’s best to use one with an airtight seal so as to preserve the quality of what’s inside.

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