Council of Whiskey Masters Crest

The Council of Whiskey Masters

The Leading Education and Certification Programs for Scotch, Bourbon and all Global Whiskeys

A Subsidiary of Sommelier Capital Advisors LLC
Huntington Beach, California 

+1 310 467 5582

The inaugural Advisory Board of The Council of Whiskey Masters consists of some of
the world’s most respected professionals in all of whisk(e)y.

Advisory Board of The Council of Whiskey Masters:

Steve Beal, Sr. Master of Whisky and Keeper of the Quaich, is an industry-recognized distilled spirits consultant, international wine and spirits judge, and former brand ambassador for some of the world’s most respected brands. He has several decades of dedication to whiskey. Steve is a 2015 inductee to the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. He is based in San Francisco, California.

Dave Broom has been writing, teaching and spaeking about spirits for over 30 years and is the author of The World Atlas of Whisky. Dave is a Master of the Quaich, a Kentucky Colonel, and was voted 2013 Communicator of the Year at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. Dave resides on the south coast of England.

Lew Bryson is the former long-time managing editor of Whisky Advocate and the author of the books Tasting Whiskey, and the forthcoming Whiskey Master Class. Lew is also the Senior Drinks writer for The Daily Beast and regularly contributes to other publications. Lew is a member Member of The Order of the Writ, as well a Kentucky Colonel. He lives in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Martin Duffy is the North American Brand Representative for Glencairn Crystal and is one of the best-connected professionals in the whiskey industry, with past affiliations at Diageo, Bacardi and LVMH. For 14 years, including two years in Ireland, Martin was one of the original Diageo Sr. Masters of Whisky. Mr. Duffy lives in Illinois, where he teaches classes on Irish/Scotch history & production, and for 8 years was the co-producer of the Chicago Independent Spirits Expo. Martin serves as the Chairman of the Council’s Board for 2020.

Rick Edwards, Sr. Master of Scotch, was named “Icon of Whisky” by Whisky Magazine in 2015, and “Highly Commended” Scotch Ambassador of the Year at Icons of Whisky 2019. Rick began his career in 1996 with Johnnie Walker & the Classic Malts, and was recently acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pernod-Ricard for his work on The Glenlivet & Chivas Regal where he served as Master of Whisky and National Ambassador for the past 12 years. Rick currently represents Stranahan’s American Single Malt as National Ambassador.

Andrew Faulkner has spent 14 years with the American Distilling Institute, in his most recent role as a Vice President. He was the architect of ADI’s International Judging of Craft Spirits, the oldest and largest judging devoted to craft producers. For six years, Faulkner was Managing Editor of Distiller magazine — a consumer-facing trade publication promoting the art and commerce of distilling. He has edited numerous books on the distilling process.

Serghios Florides is the Editor-in-Chief of Irish Whiskey Magazine which aims to promote Irish whiskey worldwide through collaborations with industry experts and producers. His publication delivers the authentic history and current developments to enthusiasts and those seeking to gain greater insights into the Irish whiskey sector. Serghios is a member of many leading whiskey societies and he currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

Michael Fraser Milne is a Master of the Quaich, the highest award in the world of Scotch whisky. He has been focused on education through doing over 1200 tastings, consulting globally and started DramFest in 2007, New Zealands premier whisky festival. Michael was born and brought up in Scotland and today lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has owned Whisky Galore for 26 years, the premier whisky-specialty importer and distributor of the country.

Sebastien Gavillet is the author of Discovering & Mastering Single Malt Scotch Whisky. He serves as the Head of Tasting Panel at the International Whisky Competition, where he designed and developed the current set of judging standards. As COO for Wine Aromas - Le Nez du Vin/Whisky, he oversees US operations and consults internationally. Sebastien resides in Colorado and Nevada.

Tobias Gorn is a Panel Chair Judge and Spirit Ambassador at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and other international competitions worldwide. He is an award winning drinks and cigar writer and has had a sommelier career for Michelin-carrying establishments. Tobias lives in England.

Monique Huston is a Keeper of the Quaich, a WSET Spirits instructor, and panel judge at many national and global whiskey competitions. She currently serves as the Vice President of Spirits for Winebow, one of the leading wine & spirits importers. Monique also ran one of the largest whiskey programs in the world open to the public, at the famous Dundee Dell in Omaha, Nebraska. Monique lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Davin deKergommeaux is the leading voice on Canadian whisky today. He authored the influential book Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, and the forthcoming Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries. He founded the Canadian Whisky Awards and has been a judge for the Malt Maniacs Awards and the World Whisky Awards for many years. Davin resides in his home country of Canada. 

Charles MacLean has been writing about Scotch whisky for 40 years, and has published 17 books on the subject. He was described by The Times as “Scotland’s leading whisky expert” in 2014. In 2009 he was elected Master of the Quaich, in 2012 won the I.W.S.C.’s ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ and in 2016 was inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named ‘International Ambassador of the Year’ at the Spirit of Speyside Festival. He lives in Edinburgh.

Joseph V. Micallef is a wine and whisky educator and the author of the book Scotch Whisky: Its History, Production and Appreciation. He serves as a judge for various wine and spirit competitions including the IWSC, World Drinks Awards and Irish Whiskey Awards. He is a contributor at Forbes and International Editor of Irish Whiskey Magazine, and has written extensively on wine. Joe lives in Oregon.

Andrew Moldenhauer is a WSET Diploma Student and Master of Wine candidate. Currently working for Remy-Cointreau as a Beverage Development Manager, he is also an Independent Whisky Consultant & Educator, and panelist for the Beverage Testing Institute. Andrew was a former Ambassador for Pernod Ricard and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Peter Mulryan is an author and broadcaster whose most recent book is The Whiskeys of Ireland. He has published and spoken on Irish whiskey extensively around the world, he also blogs on the subject. Peter also serves as the CEO of Blackwater Distillery, which started production of Irish whisky in the year 2019. 

Arthur Nägele is a respected spirits expert and demanded trainer and advisor for alcoholic beverages. His Spirituosenakademie is one of the leading learning centers on whiskey in continental Europe. He’s a member of the technical Spirits Judging Committee and Chair Judge at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. Based in Switzerland, covering all German language areas of Europe.

Eddie Nara is a renowned spirits industry leader and Whisky Ambassador lead tutor for HK, Macau and China. He is a Certified Spirits Educator accredited by the Society of Wine Educators, an International Spirits judge for IWSC and HKIWSC and an esteemed cocktail judge. Eddie’s commitment to education is invaluable to the industry and he is a mentor and inspiration to many aspiring professionals across Asia.

Fionnán O’Connor is the author of A Glass Apart: Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey. He has served as a consultant and lecturer for distilleries across Ireland and was the recipient of a 2018 research PhD grant to investigate the history of lost Irish mash bills. He lives in Dublin and continues to contribute articles to books and magazines within the trade.  

Hans Offringa is the author of more than 20 books about whisky, among which the bestseller A Field Guide to Whisky, and has been contributing editor of Whisky Magazine and American Whiskey for a number of years. He is a Keeper of the Quaich, a Kentucky Colonel, Lifetime International Ambassador of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Founder of International Whisky Day, Honorary Ambassador of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Patron of the Whisky Festival North Netherlands. He resides in The Netherlands and in South Carolina.

Josh Peters is the author of The Whiskey Jug, one of the top websites in the world focusing on whiskey reviews and whiskey commentary. He’s one of the featured narrators in the forthcoming Water Of Life documentary, author of a forthcoming book on American Whiskey and co-organizer for the largest whiskey club in California: the Southern California Whiskey Club.

Liz Rhoades is a technical distiller with over a decade’s experience, working across a variety of spirits, and sites spanning Europe and the Americas. Having spent the majority of her career at Diageo, Liz is now the Principal at Spirit Safe Consulting LLC, specializing in distillery technical process support, innovation, and education. Liz holds her Diploma Distiller through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and has served in organizations such as the American Malting Barley Association and the Society of Distilling Scientists and Technologists.  

Dominic Roskrow has been a professional writer since 1982, and has been editing drinks magazines for nearly 30 years. He has written 16 books, the majority about whisky. He is a Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of The Year, and has received awards from The Press Gazette, The Beerwriters’ Guild, and Gourmand. He specializes in whiskies from non-traditional regions, and he holds his own ‘New World' whisky awards to promote them. He is a Keeper of the Quaich and a Kentucky Colonel. 

Marcy Rudershausen, one of the original Diageo Sr. Masters of Whisky, Marcy was inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich in Scotland in 2010. Active in whiskey judging and conducting educational whisky seminars, Marcy has worked around the world as the principal of her whiskey-specialized consulting firm. She lives in South Florida.

Bernhard Schäfer, Master of the Quaich, is a whiskey journalist, industry consultant, and panel member of various whiskey competitions across Europe as well as the United States, including the International Wine & Spirits Competition and the World Whisky Awards. He is a co-founder of the European Network of Spirit Experts and resides in his native Germany, where he also lectures on spirits extensively.

Jack W. Smith, Jr., Keeper of the Quaich, is the founding President of the Metro Atlanta Scotch Club. He is an experienced seminar leader on whiskey and holds the Certified Spirits Specialist designation. Jack leads aficionado groups on full-immersion tours to Scotland annually.

Michael Veach is the foremost authority on bourbon history today. Michael was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2006. He has written and contributed to five books, including the widely acclaimed Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. His career’s achievements have been featured in publications such as The Bourbon Review and The Louisville Encyclopedia.

Monica Wolf is the Founder and CEO of The Spirits Group, a distilled spirits consulting firm, focused on whiskey related business strategy and operations, quality control and distillery engineering. Monica serves as a whiskey judge at the American Distilling Institute and American Craft Spirits Association and is a board member for Bourbon Women and Historic Locust Grove where she lives in Louisville, Kentucky.


Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I become a Master of Scotch, or a Master of Whiskey?

A candidate passes either the Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) or the Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP) exam—both part of Level 1—to advance to Level 2. Once passing the Level 2 Certified Whiskey Specialist (CWS) exam, a candidate applies to sit for Level 3, the Master of Scotch (SM) exam. The SM title is the highest qualification in Scotch whisky in the world. Masters of Scotch who want to gain global expertise in whiskey can sit for Level 4, the Master of Whiskey (WM) exam, which also includes Bourbon and all other whiskeys from around the world.

How are the exams organized?

Level 1 and 2 are self-study programs that are tested via a 1-hour 100-question online exam, with weekly exam date availability. The study materials are provided to each student upon registration, so that the program is fully self-contained and the exam can be prepared and taken anywhere in the world, only internet and phone connection are needed. Levels 3 and 4, the master-level programs are examined once a year on-site in front of a panel of examiners, in both Inverness (Scotland) and Lexington (Kentucky). Once you enroll, you can choose any upcoming exam date you like, as long as you set a date within 18 months of enrolling.

What are the benefits of the Master of Whiskey study program, and its various certifications?

Several reputable certifications for wine, and also for spirits in general, already exist. No credible whiskey education program (covering all major whiskey categories) is currently offered by any global organization that allows sommeliers, beverage professionals, trade members and enthusiast to build and demonstrate knowledge in whiskey, or scotch in particular. The certifications and diplomas for all 4 levels offer authentic evidence of the most highly achieved experts of whiskey in the world. The certifications signal to employers and the public that the person has reached some of the highest standards in the profession. The Level 1 Certified Scotch Professional represents the new standard in the field of whiskey professionals.

What is the difference between the “Master of Scotch” and “Master of Whiskey” programs as compared to the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine programs?

Both the “Master Sommelier” and “Master of Wine” programs are currently the most reputable titles in the field of wine, and they are offered by separate organizations. The “Master of Scotch” and “Master of Whiskey” programs respect the two other titles and offer a credible program dedicated to whiskey, as opposed to wine.

How much prior experience is necessary to enroll into
the study program and be successful?

Our study program is designed to build out your knowledge without prior expertise requirements. Level 1 offers a clear introduction to the world of whiskey, with emphasis on either Scotch or Bourbon. That basis is gained through reading our clear and comprehensive study guide. No tasting competence must be demonstrated at this stage, but tasting major styles during your studies will be a great advantage. Level 1 is a great review for experienced and educated candidates as well, as we work with the best textbook in the industry that covers all important parts of the field.

As you move up in the study program, Level 2 builds on the whiskey basics of Level 1 and finishes your solid knowledge on the major whiskeys of the world. As candidates enter Level 3, they will need to demonstrate practical tasting competency, thereby integrating theory and practice to reach the master level. While Level 3 specializes in the world of classical Scotch producers, Level 4 will cover the whole world of whiskeys, in theory and blind tasting.

Is the Council dependent on any large companies, including producers or distributors of whiskey?

The Council of Whiskey Masters is 100% independent.

THE COUNCIL OF WHISKEY MASTERS is a subsidiary of Sommelier Capital Advisors LLC.

For private wine & whiskey tasting events, the Council recommends:

For coffee education, the Council recommends the certification programs of: