WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits

A high-level course in spirits, covering a broad range of spirits from across the world and looking in detail at the production and maturation methods that define them.

Course information

This advanced course has been carefully developed by and for professionals working closely with spirits. It also represents the pinnacle of structured spirits education for the serious enthusiast.

The course will open your eyes to new categories and offer you the opportunity to taste an exceptional range of spirits from across the globe, produced by some of the most well-respected names in distillation. You'll take a deep dive into the raw materials and production processes behind the different categories, and our expert educators will work with you to develop your analytic tasting abilities through a carefully selected series of spirits samples.

The course will cover: 

  • The techniques used in spirit production:
    • Processing of raw materials
    • Alcoholic fermentation
    • Distillation
    • Post-distillation practices
  • Factors affecting the style and quality of spirits, studying eleven core spirit categories in detail:

    • Scotch Whisky
    • Bourbon
    • Rye Whiskey
    • Tennessee Whiskey
    • Cognac
    • Armagnac
    • Caribbean rum
    • Tequila
    • Mezcal
    • Vodka
    • Gin
  • The characteristics of 23 additional spirit categories, focusing on:

    • Principal production methods

    • Key styles

    • Key labelling terms
  • How to taste and describe spirits using the WSET Level 3 Systematic Approach to Tasting Spirits® (SAT)
  • Tutored tastings of over 60 spirits from all over the world

Click here to download the full qualification specification.

The course assessment is split into two essential units: Unit 1 focuses on your theoretical understanding of the subject and your ability to communicate this, while Unit 2 focuses on your tasting abilities. Both units are examined in person at WSET School London on the same day, with a short break between the papers.

Unit 1

Unit 1 is assessed by a closed book theory examination in two parts and must be completed in two hours.

  • Part 1 comprises 50 multiple-choice questions designed to assess your knowledge.
  • Part 2 is a question paper requiring written answers. It consists of six 5-mark questions, three 10-mark questions and one 20-mark question. These will assess your description and explanation skills in reference to what you have learned throughout the course.

You must attain a minimum mark of 55% in both parts to pass Unit 1.

Unit 2

Unit 2 is assessed by a blind tasting of two spirits which must be completed in 30 minutes. This is designed to assess your ability to accurately describe a spirit, identify its category and draw a conclusion on its quality level based on your observations.

You must attain a combined mark of 55% across the two spirits to pass Unit 2.

Both units are examined in person at WSET School London on the same day, with a short break between the papers.

Pass marks

  • Pass: mean average mark of 55% - 64%
  • Pass with Merit: mean average mark of between 65% - 79%
  • Pass with Distinction: mean average mark of 80% or above (with no individual examination paper below 65%)

All students who pass the examination will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin.

The Level 3 Award in Spirits is designed to build on an existing level of knowledge, equivalent to the Level 2 Award in Spirits. For this reason, the course is primarily open to students who have studied for the Level 2 Award in Spirits, or the Spirits module of the Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits. If you have not studied for either of these but believe you have the relevant knowledge, you can also gain entry through our Level 3 Award in Spirits online entry test

All classes are delivered in English, and assessment involves the writing of short-form answers. Therefore, a strong grasp of written and spoken English is beneficial.

You must be at least 18 years old to enrol on any of our courses.

This is a highly rewarding yet demanding course which requires a minimum of 60 hours of private study time, in addition to guided tuition hours. We recommend that you book the course in advance so that you can receive your study materials and complete a significant proportion of our private study hours prior to the course start in order to be fully prepared. 

Anyone embarking on a WSET qualification should familiarise themselves with the course specification - this document will help you hugely when preparing for the course and the examination. 

Study options

At present there are two study options available for this course. Please note that this is a demanding course that requires a minimum of 60 hours of private study time, in addition to online/classroom guided learning hours. We advise that you select a study option that allows you adequate self-study and revision time. 

Online course | £550

A nine-week online study programme that works around your existing commitments. You’ll learn through WSET’s Online Classroom, which allows you to study alongside your peers under the guidance of a dedicated educator. As part of your fee, you will be invited to attend a tasting tutorial day at WSET School London to help you prepare for the tasting examination. Other than this tutorial, you will need to source a minimum of 8 spirits samples (not provided as part of the fee, but you will be given guidance on the styles you need to source).

A minimum of 9 hours of study per week is recommended to successfully complete the online course and regular participation is essential to your success. As you work through the course you will be asked to share your learning experience with the rest of the course group, looking in detail at the influences that affect the style and quality of spirits made throughout the world and sharing tasting notes. To use the Online Classroom, you will need a laptop or desktop device.

Please note that the exam must be completed in person at WSET School London on a set date.

The course fee includes your study pack, a year of access to WSET's Online Classroom, a one-day tasting tutorial (spirits included), a dedicated online tutor and your examination. Other spirits samples and tasting glasses are not included. Delivery charges may apply.

Consecutive (intensive) course | £845

Six consecutive days, 9.00am-5.00pm (except last day) 
The course takes place over six consecutive days, with the examination on the sixth day. This allows you to gain the qualification in a short amount of time but requires a significant amount of pre-study.

We strongly recommend booking in advance and completing the majority of the recommended private study hours before arriving on the first day. Be prepared for a fun yet rigorous week with lots of spirits to taste, information to take in and concepts to grasp.

Please note that the exam must be completed in person at WSET School London on a set date.

Course dates

Start date Study option: Availability
21 Feb 2022 Day release 10+ Book Now
11 Apr 2022 Online 10+ Book Now
20 Jun 2022 Consecutive 7 Book Now
11 Jul 2022 Online 10+ Book Now
Anyone with a real passion for spirits and the desire to progress in the industry should get involved in this new qualification.

Ben Gibbins, Hospitality Consultant