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WSET launches redesigned Level 1 Award in Spirits

Published:  17 May, 2016

As part of a major shake-up of its courses, which includes the separation of wine from spirits in its advanced qualification, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has unveiled a redesigned Level 1 (L1) Award in Spirits.

Employees from bars and clubs in London, including the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and the Churchill Bar & Terrace, were invited on Monday to test the new WSET L1 Award in Spirits pilot course at the WSET head office in Bermondsey Street, London.

In the redesigned L1 Award Spirits course knowledge about leading spirits is addressed in a clear, distinct and concise format with a focus on providing skills to those working in the drinks industry.

The one-day course, which ends with a multiple choice question exam, centres on providing information on each key spirit first, rather than starting with production techniques such as the use of pot stills. New to the L1 Award in Spirits course is a theory section on cocktails.

"Delivery is more based on breaking down the course into digestible parts rather than a mass of information which can be difficult to comprehend," said Nick King, WSET UK's new development manager for spirits, who is responsible for the new format. "The course has been completely reimagined," he said.

The new L1 Award in Spirits course will be officially launched in August this year.

It is part of far-reaching changes to WSET courses, envisaged and developed by Victoria Burt MW, the WSET's Research and Development Manager.

Parallel to the new L1 Award in Spirits course, in a fresh move to separate wine from spirit qualifications: as from August this year the advanced Level 3 (L3) WSET Award in Wine and Spirits will be disbanded and replaced with a new WSET Level 3 Award in Wine, an advanced qualification, which discards spirits and focuses on wine in more depth.

WSET qualifications provide the benchmark for education in the drinks industry worldwide. WSET was created in London 1969 as a charitable trust, and has since expanded, with WSET courses now available in more than 60 countries, in 19 languages. New changes to WSET courses have been made following industry consultation over the past year. Industry feedback included views that students focusing on wine already had too large an amount of information to digest to also learn about spirits.

 "It is about better tailoring courses to meet the demands of the industry. What is the course designed for? What level of knowledge and skills do companies require for their employees?" said Victoria Burt MW.