Online whiskey classes are becoming popular for those who can’t attend classes.
Whether you want to become a distiller and make you own whiskey, or are just seeking to have a greater appreciation of the nuances of what you drink, online whiskey education classes are becoming a reality—although developing slowly at the present.
While there is no shortage of classroom courses in whiskey appreciation and production, generally you have to live near a large city to be able to nose them out. Classes in bartending are particularly popular, and WSET also offers formal education in spirits as well as in wine.
For those who prefer to learn at home, here are four institutions—two in Scotland and two in the U.S.—which already have online curricula or plan to have soon.
1. The Edinburgh Whisky Academy
Although the EWA offers courses in single-malt whisky and the art of tasting whisky given at its Edinburgh facility, it also offers a 10-hour online course titled, “Introduction to Whisky.” The introductory course, targeted at “professionals in the industry who cannot visit Scotland,” is given in modules with pop quizzes at the end of each module. No outside readings are required.
The course itself costs £280 (about $370), but in order to receive a formal Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) certificate, it is necessary to first pass an exam given at a Prometric assessment center. This will cost an additional £110 (about $145) for booking and using the center. Centers in the U.S. can be located by going to www.prometric.com.
2. The Distillery University
“We have 47 hours of content material online and will soon be adding to that,” says Rockwell Rutter, CEO of Distillery University, located in Spokane, WA. “We plan it pretty much so that learning is self-paced so that someone can watch for an hour or so when they have an opportunity.”
Distillery U’s approach is to film its on-site classes and workshops and then make them available to those interested in learning the nuts and bolts of distilling in a hands-on manner—without actually being able to do hands-on. Prices are $49 for one month of access to the videos, $249 for a six months usage and $499 for lifetime membership.
“Our classes are mainly for people who want to learn distillation,” Rutter says, “and the knowledge gained can help them whether they are looking for a job or plan to make their own whiskey.” Many of the workshops are conducted by distiller Todd Buckley.
3. Whiskey University
Located in Columbia, TN, Whiskey U has several certificate programs that are offered in classroom settings, and promises that online classes will be “coming soon.” Check out their website and see if you think it’s worth the wait. “These courses are very similar to our tastings,” the website says, “but in a virtual realm. Here, you will be able to witness tastings and information from our instructor, Craig Duncan.”
4. The World Masterclass of Whisky
The interesting thing about World Masterclass of Whisky (WMW) is that it’s not all talk and no taste. A big hurdle for most online classes that are about food and drink is that there’s no lab or tasting room right next to your laptop. WMW solves that in that it has guided tasting modules for more than 100 different whiskies from Glenlivet to Redbreast to Eagle Rare. Just bring home a bottle and cue up the module—or take your tablet with you to your favorite bar and see how many shots and how many modules you can work through at a single sitting. No module exists for Van Winkle, unfortunately.
The cost for the course—which has five levels that cover whiskies made around the world—is $149. The lessons are mostly led by David Broom: a Glaswegian who is probably one of the few whiskey experts to hold both a Kentucky Colonel and a Keeper of the Quiach title.
This is a go-at-your-own pace curriculum with no set completion date.