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

View 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

We have three study options available for this course at WSET School London.

Please note that this is a demanding course that requires a minimum of 51.5 hours of private study time, in addition to guided learning hours. We advise that you select a study option that allows you adequate self-study and revision time.


1. Day release course | £875

  • Where: WSET School London
  • Duration: 9am-5pm one day a week for six weeks (includes exam)
  • Private study: 51.5 hours. We recommend reading the relevant chapters of the textbook ahead of each session
  • Samples: In-class spirit samples included
  • Includes: Your workbook, 58 spirits samples, six tasting glasses, 30 hours of tuition, a mock exam, your examination, and exclusive offers via our Student Deals Card
  • Who: Those with the flexibility to attend classes for one day per week. A popular choice for employers looking to train staff with minimal disruption to their working week


2. Consecutive (intensive) course | £875

  • Where: WSET School London
  • Duration: 9am-5pm for six consecutive days (includes exam)
  • Private study: 51.5 hours. You will be unlikely to pass if you’ve not done the home study in advance
  • Samples: In-class spirit samples included
  • Includes: Your workbook, 58 spirits samples, six tasting glasses, 30 hours of tuition, a mock exam, your examination, and exclusive offers via our Student Deals Card. You will also have access to WSET’s Online Classroom to complete nine modules with flashcards and homework exercises
  • Who: Those who want to complete the course as quickly as possible. This is our most intensive study format, requiring the most preparation and private study before the course begins


3. Online course | £605

  • Where: Online via WSET’s Online Classroom, with exam in London
  • Duration: Nine weeks self-guided study to be completed around your schedule
  • Private study: A minimum of nine hours a week is needed to pass the course
  • Samples: Wines not included. You will need to taste a minimum of eight spirits and receive guidance on what styles to taste
  • Includes: Access to WSET's Online Classroom for one year (where you can participate in online lessons, activities, tests, forums and discussions with other students), a dedicated online tutor who is available to answer your questions during the course, in-person tasting tutorial in London, your exam, and exclusive offers via our Student Deals Card
  • Who: Those who need a flexible study option, international students or those far away from our classroom centres. Students will still need to travel to WSET School London for their tasting tutorial and exam
  • Technology requirements: We recommend that you use a laptop or desktop device and have a reliable internet connection

Online study FAQs


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Course dates

Start date Study option: Availability
10 Apr 2023 Online 10+ Book Now
15 May 2023 Consecutive 6 Book Now
3 Jul 2023 Consecutive 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