WSET: Spirits in need of brand neutral knowledge

17th October, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has highlighted a need for “brand neutral knowledge” in spirits ahead of the launch of its dedicated Level 3 Award next year.

WSET will launch its Level 3 Award in Spirits in August next year

The education provider says the new qualification, which will launch in August 2019, follows “significant global growth in spirits” and meets demand for “brand neutral knowledge”.

Candidates who have completed its Level Two Award in Spirits can progress to the Level 3 Award, which builds on the previous content by explaining how base materials and production techniques impact the quality and style of a broad spectrum of spirits.

Level 3 will also introduce new content, including Asian spirits such as baijiu, soju and shōchū.

According to Nick King, WSET spirits educator and product development manager – spirits and sake, there is a “gap in knowledge between practitioners and science on the one hand, and those who work in predominantly customer facing roles, as well as consumers”.

He adds: “The consequence is that spirits are at the same time both familiar and distant. If you walk down a supermarket aisle you will see many products that are heavily branded and promoted. However, beyond the veneer what is known about these products: how they are made and how or why they differ from their competitors? The answer is, all too often, rather little.”

According to King, “it is only right” that people with a “burning interest” in the topic should “have access to clear and accurate information that truly satisfies their curiosity”.

Furthermore, greater education around spirits would “support clearer and better-informed communication about brands”, he claims.

“Branding and promotion are fun and are essential to the spirits industry, but consumers also deserve to be in position where they can, should the want to, make more informed decisions about what they buy and why,” King says. “Education is the route to achieving this.”

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