The Council of Whiskey Masters is the world’s leading educational and certification body for whiskey expertise.

The Council of Whiskey Masters (CWM) was established in 2019 to define and uphold an elevated set of standards among sommeliers and spirits professionals, and to offer classifications in the field of whiskey equivalent to well established credentials in the field of wine.

Prior to the founding of CWM, there had been no worldwide education and certification body or program specifically dedicated to whiskey—the finest and most complex of all spirits.

Learn more and apply for the Level I: Certified Scotch Professional (CSP) program here.


“The Council of Whiskey Masters has set the highest global standard for knowledge and competence in the field of whiskey in general and Scotch in particular. Its study and certification programs are the gold standard for aspiring masters.”

Educational Programs and Certifications


* Protection of the terms “Master of Scotch” and “Master of Whiskey” is pending with the US Patent and Trademark Office. These terms may not be used without the permission of the Council of Whiskey Masters.


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Level I

Certified Scotch Professional (CSP)


Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP)

CWM’s challenging Level I certifications is 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 greatest 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) program is now open! Review program details and register here. The Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP) program (CBP) will be launch in late 2019.



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 will be offered starting in late 2019.


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.

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 on other global whiskeys, in addition to a complete understanding of Scotch and its distillers and bottlings.

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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 (Level III) and 2021 (Level IV). For the first two years of the program, exam panels will be overseen by Keepers and Masters of the Quaich, 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.