Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 99
  1. #1
    wripvanwrinkle
    Guest

    Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decanter Glazing

    Recently, I have been intrigued as to whether or not lead glazed whiskey decanters contaminate their contents. As these discussions have been mixed throughout a number of threads, I thought that I would consolidate them all here.

    My interest began with the purchase of a Wild Turkey Lore decanter from 1980. The 8 year old 101 proof contents were absolutely amazing. With this one purchase my Wild Turkey preference shot from "admirer" to "fan boy". I had heard rumors of lead leaching into the spirit from the decanter's glazing, but as a natural skeptic I dismissed the thought.

    But then I read a post here that stated that a Wild Turkey tour guide had warned against the consumption of alcohol from early decanters for this very reason. Was this a valid warning? Or fodder for the "Things that tour guides say" thread? I visited a couple of web pages and found the lead contamination dangers for alcohol stored within a lead glazed container. In brief, if the glaze was compromised then there appeared to be a valid risk of contamination. (By the way, I also learned that eating spoonfuls of lead glaze is a very bad idea...but who would have thought?)

    I went out and bought a few lead test kits designed to test water. Unfortunately, they were all inconclusive. The mechanical mechanisms on these kits assume a water substrate...and it appeared as if the alcohol was preventing them from working.

  2. #2
    wripvanwrinkle
    Guest

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    Time went by. I purchased a bunch of 1970's Wild Turkey "Series 1" decanters at a very good price. They all decanted well, the contents were very good, but the question remained...were they safe to drink?

    I started researching "mail in" water test kits. While doing so I found Pro-Labs. Their kits are available at Home Depot for about $5, and consist of a vial and a mailer. For a $30 lab fee, they use an atomic absorption spectrometer to detect lead levels as low as 1 part per million. Surely these were my guys!

    I started to have my doubts when filling out the paper work. The forms asked questions like "what kind of faucet do you own?". I wondered whether or not they would actually perform the test... Ultimately, my curiosity got the best of me and I dropped the sample in the mail. On the form I simply wrote "Alcohol Solution, 50-60%". Before sealing the envelope I added "WT101 1973.". That might just be cryptic enough to get someone's attention.

  3. #3
    wripvanwrinkle
    Guest

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    Today my phone rings. The voice on the other end said that they were calling from Pro-Lab in Florida. My Negative Nancy imagination started to spin the inevitable rejection story regarding dangers to their testing equipment and missing technical procedures for handling my material of choice.

    Instead he continued with: "Eric, today I received your sample and don't know if I should test it or drink it". Suddenly, this was sounding promising. He asked me to explain what I was looking for. I gladly shared my story and he seemed amused.

    It turned out that he had his "Chief Scientist" on speaker phone with him. The Chief Scientist shared a very interesting opinion. I had to follow up his statements with web research...so I'm probably getting this a little wrong. He said that he would call back with the results, so I will double check this understanding with him then.

    In brief, he expressed doubt that Bourbon could leach the lead from the glaze. The thought was that the Bourbon was not acidic enough to do the job. There might be danger with a lower PH acid...like citrus or vinegar. He went on to say that other substances might change that, the biggest suspect being Tannin. Apparently Tannin is very effective in wrenching metal out of it's container. Although a high PH acid like alcohol should not leach the lead from the glaze, a high concentration of Tannin might.

    The Tannin content in wine is very high from the grapes. Apparently these Tannins evaporate with the alcohol during distillation, and also exist in the final spirit (Brandy/Cognac). From his perspective; while a grape based spirit might leach the lead from the glaze, a grain based spirit should be fine.

    So how much Tannin was extracted from 8 years of interaction with alligator char? To me this is an interesting question.

    I am very hopeful that they will call with the results tomorrow.
    Last edited by wripvanwrinkle; 07-06-2011 at 19:19.

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Columbia. South Carolina
    Posts
    867

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    I can't wait to hear the results. I know a place with many decanters but have not bought any for this very concern.

  5. #5
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Northern Indiana
    Posts
    1,661

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    Keep us posted of the results. As an engineer, I'd love to get a copy of the lab report if you don't mind.

  6. #6
    wripvanwrinkle
    Guest

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Boiler View Post
    Keep us posted of the results. As an engineer, I'd love to get a copy of the lab report if you don't mind.
    I would be happy to post it. I was very excited to receive their phone call. So often when faced with an unusual request, it seems corporate nature to simply trash it.

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    232

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    This is encouraging news for everyone here, I feel.

    I've had some whiskey from ceramic decanters before and never thought twice about the glazing.

    Eric

  8. #8
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Chicago 'burbs
    Posts
    1,084

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    I'm staring at two old Beam decanters from the 70's. To drink, or not to drink. Thanks for sharing your research!

  9. #9
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    458

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    I never put a lot of thought into the lead, I always thought evaporation on decanters was worse than with glass. Many that I have picked up seemed a little low from gently shaking them. This and being Beam has typically steered me away from them. I did however pick up a few Michter's ceramics and drank some of those. I'm still here. Whether or not lead negatively impacted me is debatable.

    Eric: I know you put all of those into glass bottles. Can you give an estimate of the percentage lost to evaporation for the average of all of them?

  10. #10
    wripvanwrinkle
    Guest

    Re: Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decater Glazing

    Quote Originally Posted by BradleyC View Post
    I never put a lot of thought into the lead, I always thought evaporation on decanters was worse than with glass. Many that I have picked up seemed a little low from gently shaking them. This and being Beam has typically steered me away from them. I did however pick up a few Michter's ceramics and drank some of those. I'm still here. Whether or not lead negatively impacted me is debatable.

    Eric: I know you put all of those into glass bottles. Can you give an estimate of the percentage lost to evaporation for the average of all of them?
    For those decanters that were sealed with an intact cork, evaporation was negligible. If the cork was broken but dry, there was maybe 5-10% loss. if the broken cork was wet, the loss was significant (50%)

    Environment must play a significant effect. My father in law just gave me an Ezra Brooks decanter from 1968. The cork was intact, but the loss was about 33%. The decanter had spent most of it's life in Arizona.

    As far as determining loss, I think that shaking is a bad indicator of evaporation. The decanters are usually designed to store much more than the 4/5 quart stated contents...so they almost alway sound half empty.

    In general decanters are probably not the best buy, but they are kind of fun.

    Personally, I perceive no real danger of lead poisoning...for me it is more about the nerdy and foolish quest for approximated reality.
    Last edited by wripvanwrinkle; 07-06-2011 at 22:39.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Lead Mine Rye
    By Jono in forum History
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-29-2009, 20:42
  2. Lead Crystal PSA
    By fussychicken in forum Paraphernalia
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 07-18-2008, 08:16
  3. Ceramic Bottles
    By birdman1099 in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-06-2008, 14:50
  4. Evan Williams Ceramic Jug
    By tmas in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 06-16-2005, 04:19

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top