Whisky course spreads its wings

Online move will allow more students around world to learn more about Scotland’s national drink

BAR staff have a convenient new way to learn more about Scotland’s national drink. What was initially developed as a residential whisky course by Moray College and Gordon & MacPhail, the Elgin-based whisky merchant, and more recently delivered in open learning format via CD-Rom, can now be accessed online.
The new format, which comes in response to growing demand for the course around the world, is reckoned to be more convenient for students and opens the course up to an even broader audience.
The 20-hour course, which can be studied anytime, anywhere as long as there is internet access, covers the history of whisky making, production processes and how the spirit is marketed.
Students are given eight whisky miniatures and three tasting glasses to complete sections designed to develop their ‘nosing’ skills and an appreciation of different whisky styles and characteristics, including blends and malts.


The course is assessed by two question papers completed by students at home and then submitted to the course tutor Jim Cryle. Candidates must also complete and submit nosing and tasting notes for each of the miniatures they are sent, but there are no right or wrong answers for these. Cryle will supervise the course and will be on hand to answer any questions via the online chat facility.
“It is exciting to see more people from different cultures and walks of life developing an interest and enthusiasm for Scotch whisky,” said Michael Urquhart, joint managing director at Gordon & MacPhail.
“By going online, this unique course is helping even more people across the globe learn about its origins and the many different varieties available.
“The increasing international appeal in whisky is also reflected in the growing number of exports of our very own hand-crafted single malt, Benromach, which has seen particular growth throughout Europe, North America, South Africa and Japan over the past year.”
The course, which costs £195 and leads to a Moray College UHI/Gordon & MacPhail certificate, is thought likely to appeal to staff working in the hospitality, tourism, whisky and retail sectors. Campbell Evans, director of government and consumer affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association, said taking the course online would “take Scotch whisky to living rooms and bars around the world”.
“Better informed bar staff will be able to help their customers, and more knowledgeable consumers will be able to expand their appreciation and love of Scotch whisky, whether they are in traditional countries or new emerging markets,” he said.