Back To Basics

Updated: 02 Apr 2015 | By:

As part of Diageo’s commitment to this year’s World Class competitors, a number of hopeful bartenders from Malaysia had the chance to attend the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level One training seminar led by Aubrey Sim of the Diageo Bar Academy Foundation.

The editorial team from Thirst Mag had the privilege to sit in on the class and learn the basics about spirits – a greatly educational experience. The day-long seminar covered everything from the distillation process to the histories and characteristics of different spirits; it ended with a dynamic tasting session featuring samples from Diageo’s Reserve Range, including last year’s newly launched Haig Club whisky.

The information in the course is incredibly comprehensive, benefitting not just the spirits enthusiasts but also (and especially) the bartenders in attendance. Knowing the particular flavour profiles of different spirits means that bartenders can take their cocktails to the next level with new recipes, garnishes, and beyond. Plus, being familiar with the histories and processes behind the Diageo spirit brands means they can share this information with their future clients (who end up benefitting just as much), as well as demonstrate their newfound knowledge to the judges in the upcoming rounds, earning them valuable points as the competition progresses.

For a layperson and regular consumer of cocktails, the WSET Level One seminar was quite an eye-opener – properly learning the production method behind the different kinds of liquor created a real sense of appreciation for the amount of work that goes into it, a fact you’d probably take for granted while out with your friends for cocktails in a dark and moody bar. It certainly leaves you more educated, and perhaps even a little bit more adventurous with your next drink choice – if you’re feeling especially daring, it’ll give you a way to communicate with your bartender to make something off the menu. Pro: you might just collaborate in the creation of the new ‘It’ cocktail. Con: you might have something that you don’t like, and you can give constructive feedback to the bartender so you both can strive to achieve the Perfect Cocktail. Everybody wins!

The WSET Level One certification is only awarded upon passing the exam – a straightforward multiple-choice paper that touches on all parts of the seminar – which was conducted the following day. With this in hand, it’s possible to move on to WSET Level Two (going as high as Level Four), an even more in-depth look into the specifics of production and the particular characteristics behind each spirit, including a more sophisticated breakdown of the theory of tasting technique.

Level Two certification definitely lends an advantage to bartenders who wish to take their knowledge and skills to the next level. At the end of the day, it’s more than just a qualification it’s a valuable tool that’ll help make good bartender even better.  


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