Take a 10-question
SAMPLE QUIZ HERE to get a sense for the Scotch exam.
See your score immediately. The Bourbon exam has a similar difficulty level.
Not reaching 10/10 yet? Our study guide will prepare you perfectly.

Coronavirus Update:
The Council remains fully operational for all candidates worldwide.
Our popular study & certification programs can be completed 100% remotely.
There are no disruptions to study material delivery, office support or examinations.

The Council of Whiskey Masters is the world’s leading education and certification body for whiskey expertise, covering Scotch and Bourbon.

The Council of Whiskey Masters was established to define and uphold an elevated set of standards among sommeliers and spirits professionals, and to offer certifications in the field of whiskey that are equivalent to the well-established credentials in the world of wine.

Prior to the founding of the Council, there had been no worldwide education and certification body or program dedicated to the wider beverage category of whiskey—the finest of all spirits.

Learn more, and apply for one of our Level I credentials: Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) and Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP).

Upon passing either of the Level I exams, earn the Level II credential covering the whole world of whiskey, beyond Scotland and America: The Certified Whiskey Specialist credential (CWS) covers key regions like Ireland, Japan, Korea, Canada, India, and more.

Demanding Master-level onsite exams (Level III for Scotch, and Level IV for all global Whiskeys) follow the Level I and II self-study / online exams.

The Leading Education Programs for Scotch, Bourbon, and the other Global Whiskeys.Available for aspiring and established spirits professionals located anywhere in the world.Designed, guided and endorsed by the most respected whisk(e)y authorities fr…

The Leading Education Programs for Scotch, Bourbon, and the other Global Whiskeys.

Available for aspiring and established spirits professionals located anywhere in the world.

Designed, guided and endorsed by the most respected whisk(e)y authorities from 4 continents.

Today, active candidates come more than 30 countries. The Council is 100% independent, with the sole focus to create and run the most relevant and accepted study program in the field, based on a rigorous theoretical curriculum that necessitates intensive study and dedication. Our Advisory Board consists of 25+ of the most respected individuals in all of whiskey, making the Council programs an acclaimed set of spirits qualifications. Our remote-friendly learning options allow for effective whiskey education online.

The world of whiskey is rich in the potential for knowledge and ability, and has long needed a legitimate training and career path that a formal study & exam program can best help establish. Interested individuals from around the globe should have access to a viable path that allows starting and building out a career in whiskey. Our tiered study & examination program aims to fill this gap.

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Join a vibrant group of current certification candidates who already cover more than 20 countries, representing 6 continents, all regions of Europe, the British Isles, Asia and all 50 states in the USA. We provide every individual, in all countries, with an unrivaled opportunity to become a legitimate whiskey professional.

On spelling: The Council is aware of the various reasons for the “whiskey” and “whisky” spellings. As an American organization we generally use “whiskey”, but given that our candidates are located anywhere in the world, the diplomas will be issued under the preference of each candidate, e.g., “Master of Whisky” or “Master of Whiskey”, and “Certified Whisky Specialist” or “Certified Whiskey Specialist”. Either title spelling will be recognized by the Council, and the successful candidate can carry it accordingly.

“The Council of Whiskey Masters sets the highest global standard for knowledge and competence in the field of whiskey in general, and Scotch as well as Bourbon in particular. Its study and certification programs are the new standard for aspiring masters.”

Educational Programs and Certifications

Bourbon Scotch GlenCairn Glass Tasting of Whiskey Master

* The Council of Whiskey Masters claims global trademark (™) protection of the terms “Master of Scotch” and “Master of Whiskey”, and the other certification titles issued by the Council. These terms may not be used without the permission of the Council.


“Internationally recognized, respected and endorsed by the best people and institutions in the world of whisk(e)y.”

Statements from Successful Candidates in the CSP, CBP and CWS Courses:

How to Become a Whiskey Sommelier

Learn More . . .

Perspectives from Advisory Board Members at The Council of Whiskey Masters:


Level I

Certified Scotch Professional (CSP)


Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP)

CWM’s challenging Level I certifications are the respected benchmark in professional level Scotch and Bourbon expertise. The Level I program allows candidates to focus either on Scotch or Bourbon—becoming knowledgeable in the great single malts of Scotland, or in the important grain spirits of the United States. Passing either Level I program is a prerequisite for enrollment in Level II.

Enrollment in the Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) and Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP) programs is now open! Review program details, sample questions and registration info here for the CSP and here for the CBP.

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Level II

Certified Whiskey Specialist (CWS)

CWM’s rigorous Level II professional certification is the gold standard credential in global whiskey competence. All Level II candidates must have previously passed either the Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) or the Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP) exam. The Certified Whiskey Specialist (CWS) exam covers both Scotch and Bourbon in detail, as well as important whiskeys from Japan, Ireland and Canada.

Those Scotch or Bourbon professionals who pass the Level II exam demonstrate the theoretical foundations to proceed to master level study (Levels III & IV).

This certification is now open for enrollment HERE.

We realize that the beverage class of “whisk(e)y” is subject to different spellings in depending on the region. For that reason, we allow each successful candidate to choose either the spelling “Certified Whiskey Specialist” or “Certified Whisky Specialist” for their printed diploma. Both spellings are also approved for their use.

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Master of Whiskey and Master of Scotch Lapel Pin

Levels III & IV

Embarking on the CWM’s two master-level programs represents a life-long commitment to Scotch or to whiskeys in general. Passing the exams constitutes the most challenging achievement in the professional life of a fine spirits expert.

The main difference between the Level II: Certified Whiskey Specialist program and the two master-level programs is the intimate knowledge the latter requires of the most important producers and their leading bottlings. While Level II requires outstanding knowledge of theory, Levels III & IV require significant experience in blind tasting and individual producer and bottling styles.

Master of Scotch™ (SM)

In addition to a rigorous written exam, candidates for the Master of Scotch designation must demonstrate the ability to recognize classical selections in a rigorous blind tasting—including their region, aging and finishing. Candidates’ blind tasting findings are presented orally to a panel of examiners, which also assesses the candidate’s communication skills and use of appropriate terms.

Those who would like to specialize in Scotch only will have reached their final designation after passing the Level III exam. For those who would like to reach the pinnacle of CWM’s certification programs, the Level III: Master of Scotch credential serves as the prerequisite to the broader Level IV: Master of Whiskey program.

Master of Whiskey™ (WM)

The Master of Whiskey designations builds on the Master of Scotch program by demanding mastery of Bourbons and the other global whiskeys, in addition to a complete understanding of Scotch and its distillers and bottlings.

Some candidates may choose the spelling “Master of Whisky” instead of “Master of Whiskey”. We will issue the graduation diploma according to their preference.

* * *

All master-level examinations are in-person and on-site in Lexington, Kentucky, or Inverness, Scotland.

Master-level study programs will be offered starting in 2020. For the first two years of the program, exam panels will likely be overseen by individual Keepers and Masters of the Quaich (among other senior whisky experts) who have earned significant honors in the world of Scotch. Once the first ten Masters of Scotch have been certified, they will join the Council of Whiskey Masters and lead subsequent examinations.



New Scotch and Bourbon Study & Certification Program Announced

The Council of Whiskey Masters, based in Los Angeles, is introducing a dedicated certification program for whiskey professionals. Two separate Level 1 tracks, Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) and Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP), are now open for student enrollment.

While several organizations offer credentialing programs for spirits, no specialized and rigorous self-study program has been available globally for Scotch or Bourbon, nor for whiskey in general. The new whiskey credentialing program provides a value that was missing so far, and adds to the range of already well-known and respected wine specialist and sommelier credentials. 

With growing interest in Scotch and Bourbon, beverage professionals and hobbyists can demonstrate their dedication to and expertise in whiskey through a demanding course of study and examination, from anywhere in the world. 

To prepare for the exam, candidates enrolled in the CSP or CBP programs (Level 1) receive a detailed 100-page study guide. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, with an exam time of one hour. To pass the exam, candidates must achieve a score of 80% or above. Exam dates are offered weekly via a secure online option, and the exam can be taken anywhere in the world as long as internet and phone access are in place. Candidates receive a diploma and a lapel pin upon passing the exam and may carry the corresponding post-nominal after their names.

Passing either Level 1 exam (Scotch track or Bourbon track) allows candidates to register for the comprehensive Certified Whiskey Specialist (CWS; Level 2) exam, and they can later proceed to the Master of Scotch (SM, Level 3) and Master of Whiskey (WM, Level 4) levels. 

Program and registration information as well as curriculum overview and sample exam questions can be found at Contact email:

Master of Whiskey — Study and Certification Program

Level 1: Certified Scotch Professional™ (CSP) OR Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP)
(open for enrollment now)

Level 2: Certified Whiskey Specialist™ (CWS)

Level 3: Master of Scotch™ (SM)

Level 4: Master of Whiskey™ (WM)


COUNCIL OF WHISKEY MASTERS Announces Inaugural Advisory Board Members 

THE COUNCIL OF WHISKEY MASTERS, a U.S. education and certification body for expertise in whisk(e)y, has published the full list of individuals joining the organization’s Advisory Board.

THE COUNCIL OF WHISKEY MASTERS has recently launched a 4-level study & certification program for aspiring and established whiskey professionals. Level 1 of the program provides an introduction to the world of whiskey, via a Scotch track or a Bourbon track. After earning either the “Certified Scotch Professional” (CSP) or “Certified Bourbon Professional” (CBP) designation of Level 1, candidates can pursue comprehensive and global whiskey knowledge by sitting for the Level 2 exam leading to the “Certified Whiskey Specialist” (CWS) designation. Level 2 will provide a detailed treatment of Irish, Canadian and Japanese whiskey, in addition to full coverage of Scotch and American whiskey. From there, candidates can move to the “Master of Scotch” (SM) and “Master of Whiskey” (WM) levels to demonstrate their lifetime dedication and highest competence in the beverage class. 

Within the first month of program launch, close to 100 candidates from 14 countries have enrolled in the study program. The study materials and exam content for the program are derived 100% from the written works of Advisory Board members. Registration for the Level 1 exams as well as the Level 2 exam is now available. All study materials are provided by the program, and the exams can be taken anywhere in the world through an efficient online process.

Creating the best chances for this program to become a gold standard in demonstrating and signaling whiskey competence, the organization has called upon some of the world’s most respected authorities in whiskey to provide guidance, share relationships as well as best practices, and to support ongoing stability. Members share a vision of achieving an integrated education path for the wider world of whiskey, based on independent, relevant and objective knowledge standards.

The list of inaugural Advisory Board members can be found on our ABOUT page.