Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

whisk(e)y decanter: aestetics / lead

All your whisky related questions answered here.

whisk(e)y decanter: aestetics / lead

Postby Edoll » Fri May 05, 2006 8:35 pm

I've been getting into whiskey for some time now and am realy enjoying the whiskey's i'm currently drinking, tullamore 7 and 12yr old and the bushmills 10yr old single malt. Since i dont have decent glasses ive been thinking about getting something realy nice.. like crystal glasses and decanters. such as:

Image

However i found out there are a few issues with decanters i'd like some opinions on.

- Crystal is glass with lead, i have read that the lead disolves in the whiskey resulting in consuming dosages of lead with the whiskey. Is this realy an issue, say with 24$ lead crystal?
- Fittings arent always 100%, well this is a problem but i'm guessing there are also a few decanters that actually do provide a good seal.

So basically i'm looking for some crystal decanters only for aestetics, i'm sure there isnt any practical plus for using them :)

The whole lead-thing has got me a bit scared but basically i'm sitll interested in the decanters.. anyone got some good pro and con arguments for them i should consider before buying anything?
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby Edoll » Sat May 06, 2006 9:17 pm

Thats a horrific idea realy, storing whiskey in a chemistry bottle :D

Glad to hear the lead in the decanter might not be a problem after all. And that teflon proofer seems like the perfect sollution.

Now all that rests is to actualy find a decanter, which as of now seems like mission impossible 4 :)

Thanks for the reply :)
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby Deactivated Member » Sun May 07, 2006 10:42 am

The decanter and glasses sure look good. However, unless you plan to turnaround the content of the decanter within, say, a fortnight, you may find the quality of the whisky challenged. The whisky will be in contact with so much more air than in a bottle. Why not just show off the bottle?

There are several threads on glasses on these boards and the common consensus leads towards Glencairn style glasses. They look good and deliver the whisky in a better fashion than tumblers.

Happy quaffing :D
Deactivated Member
 

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sun May 07, 2006 1:58 pm

Hi Edoll and welcome to the forum.... If you just like to enjoy a whiskey and at the same time have it in a very presentable decanter set by all means go ahead and buy a set. A ships decanter always looks well eventhough they are more associated with brandy as pictured below. But at the end of the day it is a style choice, plain or cut square or round.

Image

If you intend to explore whiskey as a hobby then you should also buy some tasting/nosing glasses. I always say spend the money on the whiskey rather than the glassware :wink: but do get a glencairn glass or a stemed nosing glass.

Something like these

The Glencairn Glass

Image

Typical Nosing Glass

Image
User avatar
irishwhiskeychaser
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:27 pm
Location: Galway, Ireland

Postby Edoll » Mon May 08, 2006 5:38 pm

Well, i've been searching the forums on the glencairn glass after the latest two replies here and i am convinced the glass is a nessecity for finetasting the whiskey. I was lucky enough to find a dealer here who sells them and hence i bought myself a couple of these glasses!

But i still need some nice decanter and perhaps also some tumblers to go with it - its not just glassware its furniture! - To spend the money on the liquid instead of its container is a very good rule of thumb. I'm thinking along the lines of its a one-time purchase i will enjoy pouring lots and lots of nice whiskeys from.

On the "showing off" the bottle part. IMO the bottles the whiskies come in arent that spectaculair, though admitably i havent seen them all :)

Anyway i'm looking forward to the glenncairn glass, the glasses i'm using now are so bloody worthless the difference will most likely be fenominal!
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 08, 2006 5:58 pm

You mean phenol-menal...never mind.

The bottles may not be that attractive to you, but they tell you what's in them. The stuff in the decanter could be anything. That matters to us snobby types!
Deactivated Member
 

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu May 11, 2006 6:39 pm

Maybe buy a couple of decanters and then slap a big white lable and then with big thick black marker state the contents....


that would be very suave :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
User avatar
irishwhiskeychaser
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:27 pm
Location: Galway, Ireland

Postby Edoll » Thu May 11, 2006 8:44 pm

:) I was thinking more along the lines of buying 3 or so nice decanters and remember what stuff went in what bottle, shouldnt be too hard with moderate drinking. Besides, if you cant tell them apart by smell or taste whats the point in knowing what's what?

ps. My Glencairn glasses arrived today and i'm now sipping 16 year old Bushmills from one of them. I can realy smell the whiskey now too instead of just tasting it compared to the horrible longdrink tumblers. Getting these was damn good advice, that and they look beatifully too.

On that note, i was just wondering what the glenncairn glass is made of, is it just that, glass, or is it some form of crystall? By the looks of it i'd say its crystal, but it seems very thick, ordinary crystal glasses i know are very fragile. Not a biggy, just curious, the glenncairn site doesnt mention crystall at all when refering to this glass.
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby rumrunner » Fri May 12, 2006 11:09 am

This thread really got me thinking about this subject so I decided to do a bit of googling.

The results are quite shocking and here is what I've found:

It is ok to store spirits in a lead decanter for a short while, however according to a leading scientist on the subject, one would be "stupid" to drink out of a decanter where the contents have been there for a long time.

Here's a link to the scientific paper: http://www.ehponline.org/members/1996/104-2/graziano.html

Here's a link to a good article about the paper: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n4_v139/ai_9364442

Quote from the above article and from scientist that wrote the paper:

Because a single glass of the contaminated brandy "contains as much lead as you would ordinarily become exposed to in a month from all other sources" -- including air, water, diet and dust -- Graziano contends that consuming such drinks would be "stupid."


Here's another link about the article and the FDA warning:
http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/?q=node/15224

PubMed Abstract:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1670790&dopt=Abstract

In a study of the elution of lead (Pb) from crystal decanters and glasses, port containing 89 micrograms Pb/l was placed in decanters and the Pb content of the wine rose steadily to 3518 micrograms/l after 4 months. Wines and spirits stored in crystal decanters for a long time contained Pb at concentrations up to 21,530 micrograms/l. In a short-term experiment white wine eluted small amounts of Pb from crystal glasses within minutes.


Apparently, since the paper was written, the glassware industry has taken steps to reduce the amount of lead being leached, however I haven't been able to find much more about this, and thus I wouldn't take the risk.

Rumrunner
http://www.thedailydram.com
http://www.thedailyration.com

C_I wrote:Lead leech is not an issue with whisky. Lead does not dissolve that good in water, and in a water/ethanol mixture the solubility of any salts actually decreases. So no hazard when putting whisky in a crystal decanter (almangan tooth fillings are maybe more dangerous than lead crystal)

And indeed, crystal is only for esthetical reasons... The alcohol will evaporate along the not so good closure, so whisky would deterioate faster.

But wait, this is from the chemical industry, to make glass stoppers leakproof. It is a PTFE (teflon) sleeve which can be put around a glass stopper to make a leaktight closure, which can be opened easily afterwards. Could be a revival of the decanter.

Image

Or use this as a decanter :lol: would look great in a cupboard (although not crystal)

Image
rumrunner
New member
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:17 pm

Postby Lawrence » Fri May 12, 2006 3:47 pm

Good comments about lead in decanters, in this part of the world a t auctions etc you cannot give away old decanters for that very reason. I have three or four but use them as door stops.

The Glencairn glasses are not made from crystal.
Lawrence
Matured cask
 
Posts: 5019
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Postby Edoll » Fri May 12, 2006 6:31 pm

rumrunner wrote:This thread really got me thinking about this subject so I decided to do a bit of googling.

The results are quite shocking and here is what I've found:
...


Well dang, guess i should have checked this thread at work today, because after work i bought a very nice crystal whisky-decanter from mikasa! I do hope mikasa has checks for this since the thing actualy is MADE to hold whisky... and that C_I is correct about the lead not disolving very well in whiskey.
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby rumrunner » Fri May 12, 2006 8:49 pm

I think that clearly the acidicity of the solution seems to affect the rate at which the lead leaches. It also depends on the crystal and where it comes from. It is indeed disturbing to read about the levels in the brandy which would have a much closer pH as our beloved single malt, so hopefully you are right and there is something else going on with their sample.

After doing a little more searching I've found that there is quite a range of crystal decanters available now that are completely lead free. I'd say that if you are going to store anything for a long period it would be worth it to go for one of those, otherwise those nice ships decanters are still good as a decoration (or as a door stop :) )

It would be useful to find out which glasswear manufacturers are taking/have taken active steps to prevent this from happening

Rumrunner
http://www.thedailydram.com
http://www.thedailyration.com
rumrunner
New member
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:17 pm

Postby rumrunner » Fri May 12, 2006 11:29 pm

It looks like this company http://www.ravenscroftcrystal.com/index.html makes some nice lead-free "crystal". They must use some other minerals as a replacement to lead oxide.

Here's a quote from their about-me page:

"Pure, Clean Crystal" Over the past four decades, the world of wine has experienced a renaissance in the development of wine and spirits glass design. Most recently, it was discovered that lead in glasses and decanters presents an unacceptable exposure to hazardous toxins. Long-term storage in leaded decanters can result in lead leaching into the contents. The most significant reason lead oxide is added to glassware is to aid in the manufacturing process. Despite increasingly stronger industry warnings, several of the world’s top stemware manufacturers continue to use lead in their stemware production. Lead-free glassware is the future, and the future has already begun with Ravenscroft, the world’s leading manufacturer of pure, clean, lead-free crystal for fine wine and spirits.

Anyway, might be worth checking out, I like some of the designs.

C_I wrote:Crystal without lead is no crystal ;) that is the law. I thought Schott (Zwiesel) had a "crystal"-like glass but instead of lead other metals in it (has a name that looks like crystal).

The brandies I do not trust, their history is too unclear to me, and in an other document there is a difference in the lead concentration.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1585/is_n6_v16/ai_10600032
rumrunner
New member
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:17 pm

Postby Edoll » Sat May 13, 2006 7:04 pm

Well, i just send an e-mail to my "friends" at Mikasa (the factory that produced the decanter i bought) and asked them the lead content of the crystal (which as far as my research led me to believe is 24%) and if they think certain precautions should be used. Obviously this is asking the pope if he believes in God, but perhaps they actualy did some thinking onthe subject.

Also all material i have found on decanters and lead leaching (and the articles posted here previously) are all more then ten years old, and some of them mention that some factories started to use somme kind of coating onthe inside of decanters.

All in all this is quite a damper on the joy of having a very nice looking crystal decanter, so far i'm not *too* worried but i am surprised that since there are questions being raised why the producers (or governments for that matter) don't list some kind of disclaimer for this. I guess if i get lead poisning from this bottle i could sue the factory for quite a nice retirement fund :)
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sun May 14, 2006 10:29 am

C_I wrote:Crystal without lead is no crystal ;) that is the law. I thought Schott (Zwiesel) had a "crystal"-like glass but instead of lead other metals in it (has a name that looks like crystal).

The brandies I do not trust, their history is too unclear to me, and in an other document there is a difference in the lead concentration.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1585/is_n6_v16/ai_10600032




Part of the article reads.....

They found that lead began entering the liquid within inutes after being poured. Fortunately, the lead content of wine in a crystal glass usually goes up relatively little in the first half hour. During this interval, lead in wine from Irish and French crystal glasses did not exceed 50 micrograms per liter, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's current upper limit for drinking water. (The agency is in the process of lowering this level to 20 micrograms or less, however.) A set of Yugoslavian crystal glasses released lead more rapidly, exceeding present EPA limits within about ten minutes. Prolonged storage in a decanter was another story: after five or more years, lead levels in brandy had reached 8,000-22,000 micrograms per liter.

To put this in perspective, consider that lead intake from dietary sources is normally around 60--100 micrograms a day (down from 100-300 a decade ago). About one-tenth of ingested lead is actually absorbed. A cutp of wine that stood in the Yugoslavian crystal for half an hour would contain about 20 micrograms of lead -- not likely to be major hazard to the guests at even a very slow dinner party. And if glasses were rapidly emptied and refilled, alcohol would be the problem, not lead. An ounce of brandy from the most contaminated sample, on the other hand, would contain over 600 micrograms of lead -- as much as ten times the normal daily intake.


As I can only speak of the irish rystal I can only assume that the quality of the glass is also a reflection on the lead leaching. Irish crystal is considered amongst the best in the world so I would imagine it's a 'you get what you pay for' scenario. Buy cheap crystal you get a mout full of lead :wink:
User avatar
irishwhiskeychaser
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3644
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:27 pm
Location: Galway, Ireland

Postby Edoll » Wed May 17, 2006 7:11 pm

Got a reply from Mikasa which seemed pretty honest, also stating long term storage is probably not a good idea :) here goes the reply:

As for now, the whiskey i had already poured in my decanter has gone back to the bottle, and the decanter is now storing the suggested vinegar mix. After that i think i'l fill the decanter again with the stuff. I thought about keeping it filled for max 50% at a time, but i guess that wouldnt slow down leaching since the lead per cc would still be the same. Last is the beautiful Mikasa decanter and the great glenncairn glasses of which i'm beginning to think they actually ARE crystal, or at least nog regular glass.

Thank you for contacting Mikasa regarding your decanter.

Lead crystal decanters should be filled with 50% vinegar and 50% water
solution and left with this liquid for a 24 hour period. The acid solution should then be poured out, the decanter rinsed and dried before first use. This process "pre-leaches" the decanter and removes

most of the "available lead ions" from the interior surface of the decanter. This is also a very effective method for removing any dust or dirt which may be present in the decanter.

We agreed to recommend against "long term" storage of beverages in lead crystal decanters when we were negotiating our first steps with the FDA. This recommendation still appears on their website.

"Long Term" is not specifically defined, however a reasonable time frame
would be one to two months.

Decanters are not generally air tight and the "beverage" will evaporate
if it is left for lengthy periods of time.

The prolonged contact may also damage the glass surface.

If you may need further assistance, please feel free to contact me
again.

Have a wonderful day!


Image
Edoll
New member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:10 pm
Location: Netherlands

Return to Questions & Answers

Whisky gift and present finder