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What Is A Whiskey Sommelier? & How To Become One? (2024)

What Is a Whiskey Sommelier

Do you own a bar, want to know more than your friends, be a whiskey expert or want to get paid high with your whiskey knowledge? Then be a certified whiskey sommelier. 

But what is a whiskey sommelier, and how do you become one? Here’s the deal

What Is A Whiskey Sommelier? 

Whiskey Decanter & Glass

A certified whiskey sommelier title is something earned and not bought. While you must pay certain fees to become one, you don’t enter a whiskey school, pay, and then get your certificate. 

Being a whiskey sommelier takes time-just like whiskey.

Finishing each level in a “whiskey school” is not a destination but a beginning to a new path. You can be a highly paid whiskey expert, make more money at your bar, and fall in love more with whiskey. 

What Whiskey Sommeliers Do 

Whiskey sommeliers can make your whiskey more enjoyable because they are knowledgeable whiskey experts.

They make recommendations in whiskey and food pairings to enhance your whiskey experience. 

Since whiskey sommeliers study whiskey history, discover the culture, and find the stories within every whiskey, their expertise will help boost your sales or amp up any event. 

Can Anyone Become A Whiskey Sommelier?

Bourbon Whiskey Bottles

Yes, anyone can become a whiskey sommelier. You read it right. You don’t need to be a degree holder to learn and be a whiskey expert.

Your love for whiskey can be your fuel to become a whiskey sommelier, but you also need some money because programs can be expensive [1]. 

You need to complete different expertise levels to become a certified whiskey sommelier, most of which revolve around public speaking.

However, there’s more to storytelling and public speaking than tests and facts, so you must do your homework. 

How To Become A Whiskey Sommelier 

Before the founding of different whiskey schools, no education, program, or certification was dedicated to whiskey.

Today, different whiskey schools offer different levels or programs to help individuals become whiskey sommeliers, and some you can even finish over one weekend. 

However, the certification and programs are more than a weekend seminar because students should demonstrate knowledge and a high level of experience in the “fundamentals.”

It is highly recommended to wait for six months at each certification level. 

Different Expertise Levels

Dewar's Blended Scotch Whisky

The whiskey world is rich in potential for ability and knowledge, and it may take a longer training and formal study to establish expertise. All you have to do is start.

Different schools offer different levels of expertise where you can start your journey to become a whiskey expert. 

In Whiskey Marketing School, there are five levels of certification that you need to complete, and in each level, you will be tested. You will be trained in public speaking, storytelling, and palate competency and are required to pass written tests. 

However, in some whiskey schools, you will be taught by communication and marketing people, not by people with decades of experience in the industry. 

Whiskey Schools You Can Try 

Whiskey Schools You Can Try 

Edinburgh Whisky Academy 

Edinburgh Whisky Academy is a prestigious school where you can get legitimate certifications. It is endorsed by reputable organizations. The EWA educators are whisky experts that are passionate and experienced in the industry. 

EWA offers different courses and lessons like Certificate in Scotch Whisky (97 lessons: around $139), Certificate in Irish Whiskey (72 lessons: roughly $139), Diploma in Single Malt Whiskey (8 lessons: approximately $1160), and many more. 

The Council of Whiskey Masters

Scotch Whisky

The Council of Whiskey Masters sets a great standard for knowledge and competencies in whiskey appreciation.

It offers study programs and certification exams in a remote format so candidates worldwide can master the spirits in their comfort.

However, master-level examinations are held on-site and in person in Glencoe, Scotland, or Lexington, Kentucky. 

The CWM offers Level 1: Certified Scotch Professional (roughly $395), Level 2 Certified Bourbon Professional (around $395), Level 3: Master of Scotch (approximately $5700), and Level 4: Master of Whiskey (undisclosed amount).

Whisky Marketing School

Whisky Marketing School focuses on public speaking, and whiskey sommelier is a term used by marketing folks to run this “Wizard Academy.” They offer certifications you can obtain in a weekend, and each level is recommended to be spaced half a year apart. 

The five levels include storytelling, public speaking, deductive tasting, palate training, and written test.

They offer Level 1: World of Whisky (around $4,000), Level 2: American Whiskey (roughly $2,000), and Level 3: Irish and Scotch Whisky (shy of $2,000). 

Then we have Level 4: Craft Distilleries and Cocktails and Level 5: Distillery Operation in development. 

Also Read:

How Long Does It Take To Become One? 

Whiskey Globe Decanter with box & glass

It will only take you two days to become a whiskey sommelier. Yes, a two-day seminar can make you a whiskey sommelier, but if you plan to complete the five levels, it may take 30 months. 

However, allow us to remind you that you will be taught by marketing people and not by those who have been in the whiskey industry for decades. 

If you can pay at least $4,000, you can get the “lazy certification” to assume a new experience. But it can be a mockery for actual sommeliers who dedicated long years to earn the title. 

How Much Do They Make? 

Based on ZipRecruiter, as of July 18, 2022, the average annual pay for Whiskey sommelier jobs in the United States is $52,135 [2]. 

You can be paid roughly $4,345 per month, approximately $1,086 per week; that is shy of $27 per hour. 


Do you need certificates to be a Whiskey Sommelier?

No, you don’t need certificates to be a whiskey sommelier. However, if you want to be a certified Whiskey Sommelier, you have to finish certain programs and spend over $12,000 for the certificate. 

Can you hire a Whiskey Sommelier?

Yes, you can hire a whiskey sommelier. Your special event can be more special if you have a whiskey sommelier to guide you and your guests during wine tasting.

You can also hire a whiskey sommelier to train your staff or design a whiskey menu. 

Key Takeaways 

A whiskey sommelier is a whiskey expert that can help you and guide you in the whiskey world. You can obtain certification as a Whiskey Sommelier after a weekend course, but it is only the beginning of your journey in the whiskey industry. 

You can learn from people with decades of experience or be taught by marketing people, but one thing matters – your love for whiskey.

Like whiskey, it takes time to build your palate, absorb learning, and experience tasting and presenting. 


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