Diving Deep: WSET's new Level 3 Spirits Award



10 February 2020

Scotch, bourbon, tequila, rum, vodka, gin, cognac, shōchū and beyond: WSET’s new Level 3 Award in Spirits covers it all in detail. Imbibe snagged a seat on the first-ever UK course

Since the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) announced the development of its Level 3 Award in Spirits qualification in 2018, the spirits industry and on-trade alike have been abuzz.

With 50+ hours of personal study suggested, 30 hours in the classroom and a final exam that includes a blind tasting, the course is said to be the most intense and comprehensive look at spirits offered in the UK right now. So naturally, when Level 3 officially arrived this side of the pond this past autumn, Imbibe couldn’t resist getting booked in.

Book your spot

It’s time to get schooled. Find your local course provider and book a Level 3 Award in Spirits course near you at, and check out all of the WSET’s upcoming courses at wsetglobal.


Imbibe took the course over six days in October 2019. We started off with a refresher session on tasting technique.

‘We need to think consistently, and WSET’s approach to tasting is a structure to help with that,’ explained WSET new product development manager Nick King, who developed the curriculum and taught alongside the course spirits educator (and Imbibe Educator of the Year 2019) Hannah Lanfear of The Mixing Class.

Soon, we were fully immersed in the gritty details of spirits production. From the traditional stills used to make baijiu, to the ageing options for scotch whisky, we learned all about the techniques that give the world’s spirits their distinct characters. ‘That’s one of the joys of the course – to show different traditions and approaches to making spirits,’ said King.

Level 3 is a big step up, but it's well worth the effort

After every lesson, we put our tasting technique to the test, connecting the processes of production with particular aromas and flavours. It was all in preparation for the final exam, a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as – shiver – a blind tasting.


Of course, all that study was also preparation for scenarios that the on-trade experiences every day. Choosing a rum for your Painkiller? Then it’s important to understand what distinguishes the many rums of the Caribbean. Recommending a sipping tequila to a customer? Being able to explain the traditional methods of production and flavour profile can really help you sell.

Having taken the Level 2 Award in Spirits this past spring, we can confirm that Level 3 is a big step up, but it’s well worth the effort. Anyone looking to gain a detailed understanding of the vast array of spirits available today – and learn how to communicate that understanding to their customers – will find this much-anticipated course an invaluable tool.

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